About Master Gardener Program
The DC Master Gardener volunteer training program trains volunteers in sustainable urban gardening practices. Residents who graduate from the program become certified Master Gardeners and go on to volunteer in their communities providing support to a wide range of garden-based projects and activities.
After going through the Basic Training and getting certified, Master Gardener volunteers become representatives of UDC, and work towards building a healthier city in partnership with DC residents.
To train volunteers on effective and sustainable horticultural practices, landscape problem solving, and vegetable and ornamental growing.
The content is driven by the priorities of DC residents. It is DC-centric, urban-based, and most importantly, accessible to residents in all 8 Wards.
The program will be guided by UDC’s Equity Imperative and the sustainability goals of the District of Columbia.
Who can become a Master Gardener?
Any District of Columbia resident, 18 years of age or older, who wants to volunteer in their community. They should like working with people and plants and have a thirst for knowledge.
Why join the program?
The number one reason to join the program is to help people! You’ll also have the opportunity to learn new gardening skills as well as hone your existing skills. You’ll also learn how to solve gardening problems, and be able to teach others to do the same. Best of all, you’ll meet new people who enjoy gardening just as much as you do!
What are the steps to become a Master Gardener?
- Application Process |Participants submit an application form to the Master Gardener Coordinator. Names are entered into a lottery. The applicant is notified by the Master Gardener Coordinator whether or not they have been selected as a MG Trainee. Click HERE for more information about the application process.
- Trainee | The next stage of the program is 48 hours of basic training. Master Gardener Trainees are taught about a variety of horticultural subjects by specialists, educators, and other horticulture professionals. Once the course has been completed, participants take a Final Exam. If they pass the exam (75%), participants move on to the next phase of the program and are considered a Master Gardener Intern.
- Intern | Once a Master Gardener Trainee has completed the Master Gardener Basic Training and passes the final exam, they become a Master Gardener Intern. Interns must complete at least 40 hours of approved volunteer service over a twelve-month period to achieve the status of Master Gardener.
- Certified Master Gardener | After completing those golden 40 volunteer hours, participants become Certified Master Gardeners. In order to remain active, Certified Master Gardeners must:
Provide at least 20 hours of certified volunteer service each calendar year.
Complete at least 10 hours of continuing education each calendar year.
Fall 2021 Basic Training
Fall 2021 Session Q&A
*** We will host a Q&A session on Zoom on June 7 at 7pm to provide information about the fall training session, the application process, and the Master Gardener program as a whole. This would be a good time to ask any questions you may have about the program. If you would like to participate, please register for the session by clicking HERE.***
DC Master Gardener Basic Training
The DC Master Gardener Basic Training trains volunteers in sustainable urban gardening practices. Participants who graduate from the program become Certified Master Gardeners and go on to volunteer in their communities providing support to a wide range of garden-based projects and activities.
What the Master Gardener program IS:
The mission of the Master Gardener program is to train volunteers.
What the Master Gardener program IS NOT:
The Master Gardener program is not a workforce/vocational training program, or a horticulture course for home or professional gardens.
Please only apply to the program if you would like to train to become a volunteer in your community.
About the Volunteer Training
The DC Master Gardener Basic Training will give students an overview of sustainable urban gardening theory and practice. The training is divided into two phases: the first is 48 hours of online learning; the second is 40 hours of volunteer experience. The curriculum is focused on sustainable urban gardening concepts and techniques that have practical application to the DC setting.
The first phase of the training will run for 16 weeks, starting on Wednesday, September 1st. Classes will be held weekly on Wednesday evenings from 6 to 9pm. Classes will be held online, with recordings made available to participants. During this period, we may also schedule some extra-credit workshops, labs, field trips, or other activities to expand upon the knowledge taught during the training (dependent on health and safety restrictions). At the end of the 16 sessions, students will take an exam which they are required to pass with 75% or more in order to go on to the next phase of training.
The next phase of the training is practical and hands-on. The aim is for students to have practical, hands on experience and develop manual skills. We believe that students will develop a deeper understanding through practice. Students will select a couple of topics they are most interested in and would like to develop a deeper understanding. They will build a plan to volunteer at different projects around the city to gain more knowledge and put their skills into practice. The plan must be submitted to the Master Gardener coordinator and approved before participants begin their volunteer activities.
Once the participants complete their volunteer activities satisfactorily, they become certified Master Gardeners. In order to maintain an active status, MG volunteers are required to complete 20 volunteer hours and 10 continuing education hours per calendar year.
Participants will graduate from the DC Master Gardener Basic Training with sufficient skills to volunteer at various garden projects around the district. They will have a good understanding of sustainable urban gardening theory and practice. At the end of the training, students should feel confident in their ability to answer questions from the public about different aspects of gardening. They should also have a deep understanding of a handful of chosen topics and will feel confident in leading activities and delivering short workshops and classes on these subjects.
The curriculum includes:
- Urban Ecology
- Garden planning
- Soil Composition
- Compost and soil health
- How to build an ecosystem
- Urban friends and foe
- Woody plants and Trees
- Water management and conservation
- Urban agriculture
- Vegetable gardening and garden calendar
- Seed saving
- Season extension
Volunteer organizations include:
- School gardens
- Community gardens
- Urban farms
- Public parks and gardens
- Non-profit organizations
- Youth groups
Applications for the fall session of 2021 DC Master Gardener Basic Training will be open from June 14 to July 18, 2021.
All candidates must complete an application form. The application form may be completed online, or it may be printed and submitted as a paper copy. Deadlines for submission are:
- July 11 (postmark deadline) for paper copies
- July 18 for online applications
Applicants must be over 18 years of age and be residents of the District of Columbia. Applicants must also have a clear understanding of the mission of the program and a desire to volunteer in their community. Applications will be screened to see if candidates meet these requirements.
Applicants will be entered into a lottery system. Information about the live-streamed lottery will be sent out to all applicants by email. We will select an equal number of participants from each Ward. Selected names will be posted on the DC Master Gardener website by August 2nd.
Applicants who are drawn in the lottery will be contacted and offered a spot. They will have one week to register, otherwise their spot will be offered to the next person on the list.
Please click HERE to apply online or HERE to download the application form and send it in by mail (please note the application forms will only up available as of June 14; check back later if links do not work).
The cost of the DC Master Gardener Basic Training is $300, to be paid by check or money order. This amount covers program materials and payment for the instructors.
Financial aid will be offered to those who require assistance. Please indicate need by checking the appropriate box on the application form.
Computer Loaner Program
This year we are also initiating a Computer Loaner Program. If anyone would like to take the course but does not have access to a computer or mobile device, they may be eligible to borrow a computer from the Center for Urban Agriculture and Gardening Education at UDC CAUSES for the duration of the course.
The computers loaned by the program do not come with internet access (like a hotspot). Users will need to have access to a wifi network in order to access the course content.
If you do not have access to wifi at home, you may access public wifi networks throughout the District at key community anchor locations including public schools and public charter schools, public libraries, parks and recreation centers, senior centers, community pools, community health clinics and social service sites, public housing campuses, public safety sites, and District government administration buildings. Please check HERE for a map of free wifi in DC.
DC Master Gardener Coordinator
Phone: 202 941 7923