Master Gardener Program Information

About Us

Master Gardeners are community volunteers who have received extensive training in gardening and environmental principles. Certified Master Gardeners are required annually to:

  • Volunteer 25 service hours approved by Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County
  • Obtain 10 hours of horticultural related education

Volunteer opportunities are numerous and present a broad range of areas from which to choose. These include the following, and more:

  • Volunteering in the Earth Center’s Butterfly House, Rain Garden, Shade Garden, Children’s Garden, Food Bank Garden, Herb Garden, Veggie Garden and other new projects as they are conceived and developed
  • Answering questions from the community on our Garden Help Line
  • Conducting composting & recycling, or other demonstrations
  • Making presentations on a wide variety of horticultural topics in response to requests from community organizations to our Speakers Bureau
  • Participating in events such as Rutgers Ag Field Day, Middlesex County Fair, Earth Center Plant Sale, Earth Center Open House, and other RCE approved events
  • Writing for the Master Gardener Newsletter “The Garden Spade”
  • Horticultural Therapy with the VA home, nursing homes or special needs schools

Master Gardener Training

Certification training for Master Gardener students is divided into 3 semesters. The fall and spring semesters (September through April) include 3-hour lectures given once a week. Each week features a new topic given by qualified Rutgers staff on topics such as:
  • Plant selection & care
  • Disease, insect & weed control
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
  • Soils, Composting and Fertilization
  • Conservation of natural resources
  • …and more. A complete list of this year’s classes and schedule can be found under the Class Schedule tab of this website
The summer semester (May through August) consists of applied learning where Master Gardener students create and maintain two demonstration gardens located at the Earth Center in Davidson Mill Pond Park (the Circle of Thyme herb beds and the Demonstration Vegetable Garden). These gardens are the Master Gardeners’ outdoor classroom and are open to the public to promote community awareness, interest and education.

As a Master Gardener student, completion of the above training program is required to obtain Master Gardener certification as well as

  • 60 additional volunteer hours at the Earth Center or other RCE sanctioned service
  • 3 hours volunteer service at each of 5 events specified by RCE

Is the Master Gardeners / Environmental Stewardship program for you?

Join in the efforts if you are:

  • Interested in learning more about plants and gardening
  • Eager to gain knowledge on using or utilizing natural resources wisely
  • Willing to share your knowledge with residents by assisting them in gardening projects or programs
  • Looking for fulfillment resulting from community involvement

Apply Today

You may apply online for Middlesex County on our site here: Online MG Application

...or download the application from the Rutgers' website: http://njaes.rutgers.edu/mastergardeners/pdfs/mg-application-2011.pdf

If you would like more information regarding the program, please call the Middlesex county Ag Extension office at 732 398 5262.

History of the Master Gardener Program

The Master Gardener program was founded in Washington by Washington State University Cooperative Extension to meet a high demand for horticulture and gardening advice from the surrounding communities. The concept then spread to other US states and Canadian provinces. According to the 2009 Extension Master Gardener Survey, there are nearly 95,000 active Extension Master Gardeners who provide approximately 5,000,000 volunteer service hours per year to their communities.

The program is affiliated with the land-grant university in each state and its affiliated cooperative extension office. In New Jersey that is Rutgers University, founded in 1766, through the Rutgers Cooperative Extension. The Hatch Act of 1887 and the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 provided federal funds that allowed for campus-based academic programs to be complemented by experiment station research and that research to be disseminated to the public through extension educators in all 21 New Jersey counties. In Middlesex County, we have a close relationship with the County and our community through the Board of Chosen Freeholders and enjoy their support at our ideal location in Davidson Mill Pond Park where we have been since 2005. The NJ based Master Gardener program celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2009, and its 20th anniversary here in Middlesex County.