About the Master Gardener Program

The Master Gardener program provides University of California approved training in the latest gardening research, including integrated pest management (IPM) and water conservation practices. In turn, Master Gardeners share their knowledge with their community. The primary role of the Master Gardener is to educate the community in the latest gardening research. We do not provide basic gardening services.

Characteristics of Master Gardeners:

  • Enjoy sharing their knowledge
  • Want to give back by volunteering in the local community
  • Have an interest in learning about sustainable gardening practices
  • Have a passion for gardening
  • Have an eagerness to provide educational support to local home gardeners
  • Intend to make a long-term commitment to the program.

About the program

  • The UC Master Gardener program is open to individuals with or without gardening experience who wish to increase their knowledge and horticultural skills. They must have a desire to serve their community via our volunteer programs.
  • These programs are the cornerstone of the Master Gardener concept and provide important outreach to the community from the University of California’s division of Agriculture & Natural Resources.
  • These outreach activities includes plant and disease/pest hotlines, tabling at local community events, workshops, presentations, community gardens, and much more.
  • The Monterey Bay Master Gardeners non-profit provides grants to local projects such as school gardens, gardening-related groups, and community gardens.
  • About the Training

    After submitting an application and being accepted into the program, each UC Master Gardener will then receive over 50 hours of training.

  • Class topics include botany, composting, integrated pest management (IPM), soils, water management, entomology, plant pathology, fruit and ornamental tree culture, and sustainable landscape practices. Other subjects may also be included.
  • Training is by lecture, demonstration, and hands-on activities.
  • Instructors are University of California scientists, UC Cooperative Extension staff, professionals in the Agricultural and Landscape industries and certified Master Gardeners.
  • The training classes span an average of sixteen weeks.
  • The provided texts are published by the University of California and are based on research from UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  • Monterey Bay Master Gardener classes are held every two years. The next available session starts in January 2016.
  • Monterey Bay Master Gardener classes are held at the University of California Cooperative Extension at 1432 Freedom Blvd, Watsonville, CA 95076.

What is required for your appointment as a Master Gardener the first year?

  1. Reside in Santa Cruz, Monterey or San Benito County. The Monterey Bay Master Gardener chapter accepts only residents of these counties.
  2. Attend training over 16 weeks with only one unexcused absence. Training is held three Saturdays a month for 6 months. Classes are generally 5 to 7 hours a day.
  3. Pass an open text book exam
  4. Complete 50 hours of volunteering in the first year after completion of training by volunteering for Master Gardener approved projects
  5. Pass background screening (fingerprint clearance)
  6. Sign the Code of Conduct and the Annual Agreement
  7. Pay the one-time materials fee ($175 for the 2014 class).  (Fee covers texts and other educational materials).

How do you keep your Master Gardener Certification each year?

After successful completion of the Master Gardener training class, to maintain certification, you must:

  • Complete 25 hours of volunteering a year
  • Complete 12 hours of continuing education a year.

The Master Gardener program is looking for people with a variety of skills

You don’t have to be an expert gardener to become a Master Gardener. The Monterey Bay Master Gardener program is looking for people with these skills who would enjoy sharing them for the benefit of the community.

  • leadership
  • customer service
  • training
  • management
  • event experience
  • web design
  • software
  • public speaking
  • public relations
  • program development (gardening)
  • community liaison
  • volunteer coordination
  • fund development
  • telephone support (answering local gardening questions)

How to apply

The 2014 Master Gardener training class is FULL. Thanks for your interest. Monterey Bay Master Gardeners holds MG training classes every other year. Watch our website for information about the next class — January-June 2016. You can also email or call the Master Gardener Hotline: hotline@mbmgs.org / 831-763-8007


Monterey Bay Master Gardeners