Fair Photo
Planting Photo

About Us

We are dedicated volunteers who have completed the Rutgers Master Gardeners Program and volunteer our expertise throughout the County. We also provide assistance to Horticultural Therapy programs in hospitals, nursing homes, mental health facilities and schools.


Greenhouse Photo
Meeting Photo

Our Mission Statement

To expand the research and educational capacity of Rutgers Cooperative Extension in order to provide research-based information through a network of trained Master Gardener volunteers.   Develop and enhance community programs related to horticulture, environmental improvement, horticultural therapy projects, community and school gardening projects or other programs as determined by local need.   To design and present educational programs to the public that address critical issues such as integrated pest management, water quality protection, yard waste management and composting, reduction of exotic invasive species and increase the use of native plants.

Laurelwood Arboretum
Abmas Farm Photo
Lilacs with Edith Photo
Secore Farms

History of the Master Gardener Program

 The Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862 gave every state a huge tract of federal land to endow at least one college that would offer courses in agriculture, in addition to regular academic programs. Rutgers is New Jersey’s Land Grant College.

In 1887, a cooperative bond was established between the USDA and the nation's land grant colleges providing funding for experiment stations in each state.  Funding for County Agents was allocated; the agents were charged with disseminating horticultural information to farmers - and later, to urban and suburban home gardeners, as well.  The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 established the Federal Cooperative Extension System.

In the early 1970s, interest in home gardening grew rapidly. County Extension offices were over-whelmed with requests for horticultural information.  In Washington State, Dr. David Gibby proposed training gardeners to respond to the demand. Volunteers would receive extensive horticultural training in return for helping the Cooperative Extension provide the public with information.

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) Master Gardener program was initiated in 1984 in Bergen County to increase horticultural skills, environmental awareness and stewardship utilizing research¬ based education.  Active in 19 New Jersey counties, this "train the trainer" program meets the needs of local communities and individuals through a trained volunteer base.  Educational outreach includes "Garden Helpline" inquiries, horticultural therapy projects, garden clinics, and speaker bureaus. Youth programming includes schoolyard habitats, water conservation, urban gardening, 4-H programs and county fairs.  RCE Master Gardener volunteers have addressed public health and safety through presentations on controlling mosquito and tick populations and habitats.  Other volunteer efforts include composting, natural resource assessment, assistance at various RCE research facilities, and gleaning fields for food banks.  The success of Bergen County’s Master Gardener program has served as a model for the 18 other Counties in New Jersey.