Master Gardener Association History

Cape Cod Master Gardeners assist in the Children's GardenEstablished in 1993, the Master Gardener Association of Cape Cod is a collaborative effort between trained community volunteers and the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension staff to provide unbiased horticultural information to the residents of Barnstable County.

The first Master Gardener program in the United States was initiated in 1972 by Cooperative Extension Agents in Washington State, in response to high public demand for answers to urban plant problems from home gardeners. The concept of recruiting and training a group of volunteers to assist with community outreach--titled Master Gardeners--caught on and spread rapidly. Within a few years, Cooperative Extension soon maintained Master Gardener programs in all 50 states.

The University of Massachusetts Cooperative Extension managed the Master Gardener Program in Massachusetts until 1989. At that time, lack of federal support resulted in its termination. Support for the Cooperative Extension in Barnstable County still existed however, so the county office remained. Roberta Clark, Barnstable County Extension Educator, and a group of Master Gardeners organized Cape Cod’s first Master Gardener Class in 1990. Russell Norton, Horticulture Extension Educator, currently advises the Master Gardeners Association and helps it continue its mission.