If you are interested in becoming a Master Gardener, please
We are a group of dedicated gardeners who enjoy volunteering our time and knowledge by providing gardening advice to the public. We meet formally nine times a year on the second Wednesday of the month during which we try to either bring in speakers or go to horticultural establishments for more ‘hands on’ activities. We exchange ideas, plants and knowledge within the group and are always keen to keep up with the rapidly changing face of horticulture. We also visit gardens and interesting nurseries and occasionally organize horticultural bus trips. We all attend at least one Master Gardener technical update seminar a year. Volunteer activities include:
- Answering email queries
- Writing media articles
- Master Gardener Advice Clinics
- Making horticulture presentations
- Organizing educational programs for adults and children
- Developing and staffing displays
The Peterborough and Area Master Gardener group was formed in 1990 and the first Coordinator was Kathy Pimmett. By the spring of 2005, our membership grew to approximately 35 and the area encompassed Apsley, Norwood, Indian River, Lakefield, Young’s Point, Omemee, Port Hope, Cobourg, Gore’s Landing as well as Peterborough. In September 2005, with the support of the Peterborough group, about ten of our members from the Port Hope, Cobourg and Gore’s Landing areas formed the nucleus of the Northumberland Master Gardeners.
How to Become a Master Gardener
Prospective Master Gardeners (MG Trainees) complete an application form and sit an eligibility test in May or June. If they score a minimum of 50% in the test, they may then be asked to make a short presentation about themselves, their gardening experience and reasons for wanting to become a Master Gardener to the group prior to our September meeting. We are looking for people who can use their skills and knowledge to make a positive contribution to the group.
Trainees also required to complete an educational component. There are 3 options for this: Complete 3 required courses at the University of Guelph, 4 courses at Dalhousie University or pass a certification exam that will ensure that the prospective trainee has the horticultural knowledge required of a Master Gardener. If the last option is chosen, the trainee will be provided with an outline of the scope of knowledge, suggested reference materials and practice questions of the exam. Two years are allowed as preparation for the exam, although it is possible to take it at any time. The group will assist by acting as mentors and offering workshops. All costs for courses are the responsibility of the trainee, although there are some funds available from the Peterborough MG group to assist once the accreditation has been attained.
For more detail: How to Become a Master Gardener in Ontario
Both MG Trainees and accredited Master Gardeners are required to complete a minimum of 20 advice hours and 10 administrative/education hours per year.
History of Master Gardeners
The Master Gardener program began in Washington State in 1972 in response to the overwhelming number of requests for gardening information. Volunteers were trained in horticulture to provide gardening advice to the public. Master Gardener Programs now operate in 45 states and 4 provinces in Canada.
Ontario MG Program
In 1985, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs reviewed ways to provide horticultural information to the public. One of the ideas presented was the American Master Gardener Program model. It was investigated, adapted to the Ontario situation and the first pilot sites began in 1985. The program was directed by a provincial steering committee and sponsored by OMAFRA and the Ontario Horticultural Association. Experienced gardeners were recruited by local horticultural societies. The volunteers were introduced to the program at an orientation session, wrote an eligibility test, received local training on soil management, communication skills, pest and disease diagnostics and control as well as enrolling in the Horticulture Independent Study Courses from the University of Guelph. Ontario’s program was unique because of the Horticultural Independent Study Courses which made it possible for the volunteers to learn at home and gain credits that eventually could count towards an Ontario Diploma in Horticulture.
MGOI: Master Gardeners of Ontario Inc.
In May 1996, it was announced that OMAFRA would no longer fund the Master Gardener program. In February 1998, the Master Gardeners of Ontario Inc. was formally incorporated as an independent not-for-profit charitable organization, Master Gardeners of Ontario Inc. (MGOI.) At the time of incorporation there were 36 Master Gardener groups with over 800 active volunteers who were contributing nearly 35,000 hours of volunteer time to the program.
Mission of MGOI: Master Gardeners of Ontario Incorporated develops the knowledge and the leadership skills to enable volunteers to provide balanced, scientific horticultural information to Ontario communities.
The Master Gardener organization in Ontario is committed to:
- Excellence in its training and certification program for volunteers
- Providing accurate and current information
- Meeting community needs
- Working in partnerships
- Developing and involving volunteers
- Conducting ongoing evaluation to determine future directions for the organization
Benefits of being a Master Gardener
- Increase your horticultural knowledge
- Develop personal leadership skills
- Help your community
- Receive recognition as a Master Gardener
- Meet and work with new people