Master Gardener Program
Since 2002, the University of the District of Columbia has offered the DC Master Gardener Program. Active in all 50 states and Canada, the program was established to assist Cooperative Extension in reaching the consumer horticulture public. The program’s mission is to train and educate participants on effective and sustainable horticultural practices, landscape problem solving, and vegetable and ornamental growing, on a small and large scale.
The DC Master Gardener Program is open to DC residents only. No prior gardening experience is needed to participate in this program.
Becoming a Master Gardener
The winter offering is the first Tuesday in February to the last Thursday in March. The fall offering is the first Tuesday in October to the first Thursday in December, with no classes on the week of Thanksgiving. There are 45 spaces in each cohort that will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Two weeks before the first class, participants must attend a mandatory orientation.
Classes take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for 8 weeks.
The fall offering, October to December 2019, is filled and the waitlist is closed. The next program is February 4 to March 26, 2020, with a mandatory orientation on January 23, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. The application will open November 6, 2019, at noon.
Participants will need to bring a check or money order for $206.00 payable to the University of the District of Columbia, for the Master Gardener Program fee, to orientation. The fee covers the cost of the fact sheets, class supplies, and speaker fees. Participants will need to purchase the Master Gardener Manual for $69.00 from the University of Maryland. Applicants will receive further information in the acceptance letter.
Classes are held at the University of the District of Columbia, 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. The university is located at the Van Ness/UDC Metro on the Red Line. Participants must provide their transportation to and from classes, as well as other activities. A confirmation email will include directions to class, parking information, and other pertinent information.
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Classes meet for 2 ½ hours, 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., twice weekly for eight weeks. Curriculum topics include:
- Soils and Fertilizers
- Plant Diseases
- Pesticides: IPM
- Plant Propagation
- Herbaceous Plants
- Turfgrass Management
- Landscape Design
- Fruit and Vegetable Gardening
Upon completion of all coursework and 50 hours as a volunteer intern, each student is issued a Master Gardener Certificate. The 50-hour requirement is designed to provide each student with an opportunity to learn from professional gardeners while volunteering. Listed below are some typical activities:
- Environmental Gardening Demonstrations
- Junior Master Gardener Program/Youth Gardening
- Community Beautification
- Technical support for the School Gardens Program
- Community Garden Advisors
- Teaching at UDC Food Hubs
The requirements for certification as a Master Gardener of the District of Columbia are:
- 75% attendance of class sessions and field trips.
- Satisfactory completion of all activities and assigned projects.
- Passing of the open book, final exam.
- Fulfillment of the 50-hour volunteer requirement.
Students who miss must account for that absence and are responsible for all work.
More than 400 DC residents have been trained in the Master Gardener program since the program was revitalized in 2002. Nationally, Master Gardeners volunteered more than 5 million hours in 2009. In 2010, 187 active Master Gardeners gave a total of 9,350 hours valued at $306,119. Currently, there are a total of 226 active Master Gardeners in the District of Columbia.
Sandra Farber Bandier
Extension Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator