The Maryland Master Gardener Program was started in 1978 as a means of extending the horticultural and pest management expertise of University of Maryland Extension to the general public.
The program is designed to train volunteer horticultural educators for University of Maryland Extension- the principal outreach education unit of the UMD. Participants receive 40-50 hours of basic training from UMD professionals and then agree to work in their communities to teach Marylanders how to cultivate garden spaces and manage landscapes sustainably using research-based information. This environmental horticulture approach reduces fertilizer and pesticide use resulting in improved soil and water quality.
Master Gardeners typically work in group-directed teams and committees with trainees matched to senior Master Gardeners. Typical activities include
- Environmental gardening demonstrations and classes
- Plant clinics where plant and pest problems are diagnosed and residents learn least-toxic solutions
- Individual phone consultations
- Composting classes and demonstration sites
- Youth gardening
- Community gardening and greening
- Information booths at fairs and festivals
- Advanced training/continuing education