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University of Minnesota Extension

Master Gardener volunteers in action

Master Gardener volunteers are your neighbors. Stories of discovery, growth and connection are embedded in the work Master Gardener volunteers do every day around Minnesota.

What’s it like to be a Master Gardener? Hear from your neighbors

University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteers share their experiences and give an overview of the program.

Watch all of these stories

Local food is just the start

Community garden in Cass County

Master Gardener volunteers share the bounty that "giving gardens" yield: produce, gardening knowledge, vegetable preparation tips, and a sense of community pride. Produce grown at the Remer Community Garden in Cass County is donated to multiple food shelves.

Read more about Giving gardens.

Connect with nature

Healing garden in Ramsey County

Master Gardener volunteers have a demonstration garden of healing design at the Muriel Sahlin Arboretum embedded in Central Park in Roseville. Signage in the garden encourages visitors to engage their senses, which helps bring calm. “We know that we all feel better when we walk into nature from a gut level to even a neuroscience level.”

Sow, grow, share

McLeod County giving garden in action

With a giving garden, the fruit and vegetable harvest is donated, typically to a local food shelf. Master Gardeners’ work in these can be at a community garden or even a home garden, like Joyce’s. In 2023, giving gardens across the U of M Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program donated 45,683 pounds of produce, of which 10,734 pounds were grown in home gardens.

Read more about Giving gardens.

Houseplants for seniors

Bringing nature indoors in St. Louis County

It’s more difficult for those who live in assisted living facilities and nursing homes to get outdoors, so U of M Extension Master Gardener volunteers bring plants to them. Master Gardeners propagate, donate and deliver houseplants to the facilities along with educational programming. “We make lots of friends and lots of smiles.”

Kids explore with hands-on activities

Children’s garden in Renville County

In the children’s garden, kids grow along with the plants! U of M Extension Master Gardener volunteers work alongside the youth with garden checks, science-based gardening curriculum, and freshly harvested snacks. The youth have their own space, soil and produce they can claim as theirs. They take great pride in their gardens. 

Neighbors and pollinators

Growing pollinator gardens in Hennepin County

University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteers are your neighbors! And at-home gardening projects, such as Val’s pollinator garden, allow for hyper-local connections and conversations. Community members learn from research-based information from walk-by signage or informal chats. 

Walk-by learning

Discovery garden in Goodhue County

People are drawn into the discovery garden thanks to its bright colors, pollinators, faerie garden and cooks’ garden. Visitors ask their gardening questions and conversations bloom. The discovery garden was built by U of M Extension Master Gardeners with the support of local businesses and the City of Red Wing. 

Global connections

U of M Twin Cities campus Global Garden

U of M Extension educators and Master Gardener volunteers are updating their knowledge and studying native African crops through collaboration with the University’s Plant Breeding Center and local African communities. “We hope to expand so that people from other cultures can see those vegetables or crops that they loved back home can grow here.” Learn more about African plants.

Gardening and grand friends

Intergenerational learning in Douglas County

University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteers pair together seniors and kids to the benefit of both with the gardening and grand friends program. They learn, socialize and gain a sense of community. “It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, there’s always something to learn from other people.” 

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