County residents seeking an active and fun community service opportunity are invited to join the Rutgers Master Gardeners of Union County community volunteer program. No previous experience with gardening is required. All Master Gardeners are trained and certified by Rutgers experts.

Applications for the 32nd annual Master Gardner class training series in Union County are now being accepted. Classes begin on October 15 and go until the end of May 2020.

“The Master Gardeners program provides both seasoned gardeners and beginners with the chance to serve their community while expanding their knowledge of gardening,” said Union County Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “The Freeholder Board is proud to support our Master Gardeners who have touched the lives of countless Union County residents throughout the years.”

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The mission of the Master Gardeners is to share knowledge, experience, and love of gardening through community activities including neighborhood garden and beautification projects, education, and outreach to seniors and the disabled.

In return for the training, Master Gardeners are involved with many outreach activities.  They maintain a 1.5 acre demonstration garden at Trailside in the Watchung Reservation.  Master Gardeners raise vegetables, herbs and small fruit in the garden for donation to local food pantries.  Master Gardeners offer educational programs for school groups and tours for community organizations at the demonstration garden.  Other services are a Garden Helpline, which residents can call or email for gardening advice, at (908) 654-9852 and mastergardeners@ucnj.org

The Master Gardeners program is run by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County. It is supported by the Freeholder Board as part of a national county-based community agriculture program under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Extension offices are located in the County’s Colleen Fraser Building in Westfield, and the Demonstration Garden is located in the County’s Watchung Reservation near the Trailside Nature and Science Center.

A $200 materials fee will be due upon acceptance to the program which covers all textbooks, notebooks and class materials. Trainees commit to at least 6 hours of volunteer service before training is completed, and a total of 60 hours of service over a period of 12 to 18 months.

To obtain a Master Gardeners application and more information on all programs of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County, visit the Rutgers University Master Gardener Application Site. Questions can be directed to the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County by calling (908) 654-9854, Ext. 2 or Ext. 4. 

For quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities, visit The Green Connection online at ucnj.org/green-connection. 

For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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