After extensive training, Master Gardeners provide free or low-cost programming and information to the public by staffing help desks, answering gardening questions, speaking at public events, teaching classes, writing articles, and partnering with other community organizations, gardens, and educational facilities. Our projects include:
- Horticulture Help Desk – Get answers to your gardening questions at the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) office on Stagecoach Road, at farmers markets, and at community events. Find details in Gardening Resources or visit our Facebook page to find answers to frequently asked questions in the “Ask a Master Gardener” section.
- School and Community Gardens – Student gardens at two area schools, Clark Elementary and Jackson-Via Elementary, benefit from Master Gardener expertise and teaching. Master Gardeners consult on community gardens and assist with On Our Own Charlottesville, the Virginia Institute of Autism, and other organizations with educational programming around gardens.
- School Garden Grants – The Piedmont Master Gardeners annually offers grants to grade K-12 educators for programs related to horticulture or gardening in the city of Charlottesville and Albemarle county. Applications for 2020 will become available in January 2020 and the deadline to apply is February 28, 2020.
- Healthy Virginia Lawns – This statewide Master Gardener program offers property owners customized, scientific-based information for improving lawns while minimizing the environmental impact of lawn care. Find details in Gardening Resources.
- Demonstration Gardens – See best gardening practices applied at two locations created for public education: the Center Rose Garden at 1180 Pepsi Place off Greenbrier Drive, and the Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital Amphitheater garden adjacent to the hospital.
- Educational Exhibits – Look for our exhibits on gardening and environmental horticulture at area fairs, festivals, and other one-time educational events. Submit your best home-grown produce to the Albemarle County Fair; where Master Gardeners accept, display, and judge entries.
- Classes & Speakers – Hear well-known speakers on current gardening topics during our Spring Lecture Series; online registration is available closer to the event. Our Garden Basics classes are two-hour workshops on gardening topics of seasonal importance offered each month. Our Monthly Membership meetings, which are open to the public, feature speakers on garden-related topics. See Events for details.
- Speakers Bureau – Our Speakers Bureau matches Master Gardener experts to the gardening interest of other community organizations. Contact Judy Reigel at firstname.lastname@example.org if your group would like a knowledgeable speaker.
- Garden Guides – Master Gardeners serve as docents for “Through the Garden Gate” tours of private garden, held each month from April to September, in partnership with local garden clubs. Volunteers enlighten visitors from around the world each April during Virginia’s Historic Garden Week and act as ambassadors in the Monticello gardens from April through November. See Events for dates and details.
- Spring Plant Sale – Buy affordable plants from our members’ own gardens and greenhouses and from ethical growers of native plants at our annual Spring Plant Sale in May. See Events for details.
- Newsletter – Piedmont Master Gardeners write on garden topics for newsletters and regional gardening magazines, including a monthly online newsletter called The Garden Shed. To be notified when news issues are available, sign up here.
Master Gardener programs are designed to incorporate our five main goals of community outreach:
- Environmental Horticulture – utilizing and understanding the importance of sustainable landscape management practices
- Youth Gardening – developing horticultural awareness and gardening skills for community youths
- Value of Landscape – understanding economic and aesthetic benefits of good landscape design
- Food and Nutrition – developing interest in nutrition and home food production beginning in the garden
- Quality of Life – experiencing the positive effects of home gardening and landscape management on physical and emotional health