Who We Are
The Extension Master Gardener Program is an educational program of Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) drawing on the resources of Virginia’s land-grant universities – Virginia Tech and Virginia State University. Working with Virginia Cooperative Extension offices in Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, Westmoreland, and Essex Counties, we are able to bring the knowledge and expertise of Virginia’s land-grant universities to the people of the Northern Neck.
Our organization supports a variety of programs specifically targeted to the unique growing conditions and environmental concerns of our largely rural region, which is bordered by two major river systems and the Chesapeake Bay. Activities highlighted on this website include science enrichment programs in the schools; seminars and workshops for gardeners; gardening advice; horticultural therapy for seniors; a speakers’ bureau; shoreline advisory services; and specialized gardens demonstrating basic gardening principles.
The Northern Neck Master Gardeners Association was founded in 1989. There are Extension Master Gardener programs in nearly all Virginia counties and in 48 states. Our volunteers receive comprehensive training in horticulture and conservation practices from Virginia Tech and VCE. With the training and internship program comes the obligation for each volunteer to give back to the community through volunteer service hours and to keep current with annual training. We work hand-in-hand with Virginia Tech and VCE to deliver our programs to the public.
Our mission is to educate residents of the Northern Neck about safe, effective, and sustainable landscape management practices. Northern Neck Master Gardeners play a significant role in teaching homeowners responsible gardening, thus helping to conserve and protect our land and waters.
Our educational programs help individuals make informed choices about what and where to plant, how and when to water and fertilize, how to control pests, and how to protect their properties against erosion. We provide information that is unbiased, research-based, and targeted to the unique growing conditions and environmental concerns of our largely rural region, bordered by two major river systems and the Chesapeake Bay.
What We Do
Northern Neck Master Gardeners reach out to the community through a variety of educational programs including seminars and workshops for adults, science enrichment in the schools, teaching gardens, horticultural therapy programs for seniors, and a speakers bureau with experts on a wide range of gardening and conservation topics. The Shoreline Evaluation Program provides site-specific feedback to homeowners in response to their shoreline erosion concerns. In 2016, we completed 35 evaluations.
The public can consult with us one-on-one about their gardening concerns – at our Plant Clinic tables at farmers markets and special events, by phone and in person at VCE offices in Lancaster, Northumberland, and Westmoreland and by email.
Northern Neck Master Gardeners offer a variety community education programs throughout the year. From workshops about shoreline property issues, raised bed gardening, and tick-borne diseases to the area’s premier gardening seminar, Gardening in the Northern Neck, Northern Neck Master Gardeners work to bring the latest in research-based horticultural, gardening and environment topics to local residents.
At farmers markets and special events throughout the Northern Neck, Plant Clinics function as traveling Master Gardener Help Desks. Plant Clinics are a regular feature at farmers markets in Tappahannock, Irvington, Heathsville, and Montross. Local merchants and special event sponsors provide other venues during the year.
Northern Neck Master Gardeners visit local elementary and primary school during the school year to teach students about plants, wildlife and the environment providing an entertaining, interactive experience supporting the Standards of Learning (SOL) objectives. Northern Neck Master Gardeners also conduct other educational programs for local children outside the school environment.
The Northern Neck Master Gardeners maintain several different Teaching Gardens located throughout the Northern Neck. These gardens are designed to illustrate ideas, plant varieties, and gardening techniques for various applications.
Through the Shoreline Evaluation Program, Northern Neck Master Gardeners are helping property owners cope with these problems by providing personalized property reports and community outreach on healthy shorelines. To date, the group has completed approximately 250 shoreline reports for properties on the Northern Neck.
The Northern Neck Master Gardeners staff Help Desks located at Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) offices in Northumberland, Lancaster, and Westmoreland. Master Gardeners take phone calls and emails and inspect samples brought in by local gardeners and homeowners.
The Northern Neck Master Gardeners’ Speakers Bureau provides experienced and knowledgeable speakers to local groups and organizations. They offer presentations on a wide range of horticultural and environmental topics.