The Master Gardener Association of Cape Cod was established in 1993 and is a non-profit (501c3) organization run by a Board of Directors. On Cape Cod, the Master Gardener Program is a cooperative effort between community volunteers and the Extension staff to provide unbiased horticultural information to the residents of Barnstable County. The efforts of the Master Gardeners increase the ability for Cooperative Extension to reach a greater number of people using the expertise gained during training. The Master Gardeners “Help Others Learn to Grow” by engaging in a number of programs, including the Horticulture Clinic and Hotline, the Demonstration Garden, the Children’s Garden and many others.
In 1972, a Cooperative Extension Agent in Washington State, inundated with questions from home gardeners, decided to train a group of volunteers to help him handle the outreach of information. This was the beginning of the Master Gardener Program and the idea rapidly spread across the country. The Cooperative Extension soon maintained Master Gardener programs in all 50 states.
The University of Massachusetts Cooperative Extension ran the Master Gardener Program in Massachusetts until 1989. At that time, the loss of county based Extension personnel throughout much of Massachusetts resulted in the termination of the University of Massachusetts Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program. However, support for Extension in Barnstable County still existed and the county Extension office remained. Roberta Clark, Barnstable County Extension Educator, and a group of Master Gardeners organized Cape Cod’s first Master Gardener Class in 1990. The Master Gardener Association of Cape Cod maintains a strong relationship with the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension. That relationship is served by the Horticulture Extension Educator who advises the Association in continuing its mission to assist the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension in meeting the horticultural needs of Cape Cod’s population.