People working in Vegetable Garden


The Master Gardener Program is a cooperative effort between community volunteers and Cape Cod Cooperative Extension staff to provide unbiased horticultural information to the residents of Barnstable County.  Working with Master Gardener volunteers, Extension can expand its ability to provide quality information to the residents of Barnstable County through an array of horticultural programs.

Master Gardener Program Overview

2024 Master Gardener Application available here.

Candidates for the program will be chosen through an interview process from the pool of applicants.  Once selected the candidates will participate in a training program that will prepare them in becoming Master Gardeners.  Upon graduating from the program the candidates will then be required to give back to the program in volunteer hours (largely spent on the plant clinic and hotline).

Master Gardener Programs Include:

  • Annual Plant Sale
  • Ask a Master Gardener
  • Autumn Joy
  • Backyard Horticulture
  • Children’s Garden
  • Demonstration Garden
  • Hydrangea Festival
  • Master Gardener Scholarship
  • Plant Clinic & Hotline
  • School Garden Program
  • Soil Test Clinics
  • Speakers Bureau
  • Spring Horticultural Conference

School Garden Program – Master Gardeners Assisting in School Gardening

  • Click here for the School Garden Program Brochure.
  • Click here to request a Master Gardener to come to your school.

Click here for the Master Gardener Speakers Bureau brochure and a comprehensive list of topics.

To make a request for a speaker to present to your organization or group, please fill out the form.

The Master Gardeners often staff tables at various events to answer community questions and provide information to the home gardener. You may find the “Ask a Master Gardener” table at your local farmers market.

The Master Gardeners may participate at community events where our Horticultural message can be an integral part of the event theme. We reserve the right to cancel within one week of the event if staffing by the Master Gardeners is not available. 

Click here to send your request for having a Master Gardener present to your group or host a table at your event.


People in vegetable garden

Master Gardeners enhance the economy and environment through horticultural education.

Testing PH of water

Master Gardeners use applied research and the research resources of the University of Massachusetts.

Master Gardner Outdoor Class

Master Gardeners connect people with their environment by helping them find sound management practices for home and urban natural resources.

Residentail Backyard

Master Gardeners create and maintain an aesthetically pleasing environment.

Young boy working in a garden

Master Gardeners promote well-being through people/plant interactions and horticulture therapy.

Master Gardeners contribute to a safe, abundant food supply through home fruit and vegetable production.


The Smith-Lever Act was passed by Congress in 1914. This act initiated the formation of the Cooperative Extension and is often referred to as the Cooperative Extension Act. The Act provided the funds for Land Grant Universities to develop practical applications of research knowledge and the means to demonstrate those applications to the public. By 1918, each county had at least one Extension Service agent who was responsible for disseminating this information to the public.

The purpose of the Cooperative Extension is much the same today as it was 100 years ago; to provide educational opportunities for all, to conduct research for the benefit of mankind, and to disseminate knowledge and information to the public. Traditionally, this information and knowledge has been provided in the areas of: Natural Resources, Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences, and Youth Development.   In 1972, an 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 was established in 1993 and is a non-profit (501c3) organization run by a Board of Directors.

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.

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.