Santa Barbara County
University of California
Santa Barbara County

Master Gardener Program

Master Gardeners working in the community

UCCE Master Gardeners of Santa Barbara County are volunteers who are trained to provide science-based information, workshops, and educational programs for home gardeners. Resources offered by Master Gardeners include plant and pest identification, best practices for problem-solving, soil health and compost production, and cultural guidelines for growing a wide variety of edible and ornamental plants suitable to Santa Barbara County.

The Master Gardener Program is sponsored by the University of California Cooperative Extension, a division of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

About the Master Gardener Program: Master Gardener volunteers are recruited and trained to support land-grant universities throughout the United States and Canada. Local programs are administered through University of California Cooperative Extension offices in each county throughout the state with a primary goal to answer a myriad of questions brought to them by home gardeners. Master Gardeners extend to their communities the benefits of scientific research conducted by recognized experts in their respective fields.  Master Gardeners are a vital connection between the University of California campuses and the residents of the state.

Purpose: The University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program is an educational outreach program performed largely by highly trained volunteers. Their purpose is to teach sustainable gardening and landscaping practices and to effectively extend research-based information produced by the University to the residential gardening public.  A primary focus of Master Gardener education is in the area of Integrated Pest Management, or "IPM."  

History: The concept of Master Gardeners was created in 1971 by two extension agents in Washington state as a way to help them answer the increasing number of questions from home gardeners that was making their jobs impossible.  They came up the idea of recruiting and training a corps of volunteers to serve the gardening public.  Pilot programs were first introduced to California in Riverside and Sacramento Counties in 1980, and the Santa Barbara County program was organized in 1990.

Today there are Master Gardener programs in all 50 states and four Canadian provinces. Last year in California, 6,055 UC Master Gardeners serving in 50 counties provided close to 400,000 volunteer service hours to their respective communities.  This represents a collective contribution from California Master Gardeners valued at $10,000,000!

Master Gardeners Make a Difference!

In 2015-2016, Santa Barbara Master Gardeners contributed 4,093 volunteer hours and earned 1,020 continuing education hours as part of their annual service to the community.  More than 4,000 Santa Barbara County residents were helped by Master Gardeners who presented free home horticulture workshops at public venues throughout the county, partnered with the Santa Barbara Food Bank on the “Grow Your Own Way” project, hosted information tables at Santa Barbara Farmer's Market and Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, answered telephone and email inquiries to the Master Gardener Helpline, and interacted with visitors to the historic La Huerta Garden at Old Mission Santa Barbara and the Butterfly Garden at Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens.

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