University of Maine  
           Cooperative Extension
               Master Gardeners
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Name:            University of Maine

                        Cooperative Extension

                        Master Gardeners

Address:         5741 Libby Hall

                        Orono, Maine  04469-5741

Phone:            207-581-3188


Toll-Free:       1-800-287-0274

TDD:              1-800-287-8957  (in Maine)

FAX:               207-581-1387


Text:               207-735-4145

Products and Services:

-40 hours of in-depth training

-Maine Harvest for Hunger

-wide selection of volunteer opportunities

-classes and workshops

-Kids Can Grow program

-demonstration gardens

-Garden Angel program


-community garden projects

-gleaning opportunities

-plant sales

What Makes the Master Gardeners Program Unique?

Many individuals find the opportunity to plant and tend gardens to be extremely gratifying.  The chance to plant seeds and watch them develop into vegetables and flowers can bring a great deal of joy and a real sense of accomplishment. Gardening is a pastime that can be enjoyed by people of all abilities and backgrounds. Having an opportunity to continuously learn and to volunteer to share that acquired gardening knowledge with others is quite a gift. Thanks to the efforts of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, gardening has taken on a whole new level with the Master Gardener program.

Throughout Maine there are Master Gardener programs where interested individuals sign up to receive forty hours of intensive horticultural training and pledge to donate forty hours of volunteer work in community gardens and horticultural-related activities.  The program is based on positive elements such as community, learning, sharing, and “paying it forward.”

The range of topics covered in the forty-hour in- depth training to become a Master Gardener is quite broad.  Some of the subjects that are introduced include soil health, taxonomy, entomology, sustainable gardening, plant pathology, and integrated pest management.

In April of 2014, Unique Maine Farms had the opportunity to attend the Annual Meeting of the York County Master Gardeners that was held in the Mather Auditorium at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm in Wells, Maine.  What an amazing gathering that proved to be!  Approximately one hundred Master Gardeners and soon-to-be Master Gardeners gathered for a day of review, awards, planning, learning, socializing, and talks. The positive energy that radiated in the Auditorium was off the charts! 

If one were to try and analyze why there is such an exceptional sense of camaraderie that seems to form among Master Gardeners, the answer would probably originate from the fact that Master Gardeners are people who appreciate nature, love to learn, and fully embrace the idea of sharing and helping others. Certainly these particular qualities help to formulate a positive and upbeat outlook and atmosphere.  Of course, attending the Annual Meeting with vibrant feather hat creations and dressing up in colorful handmade vegetable costumes at the plant sales can also add a little bit of whimsy and levity to their programs, as well!

The York County Master Gardeners are a great example of all that can be accomplished by volunteers who sign up to be part of this University of Maine Cooperative Extension program.  Frank Wertheim, an Extension Educator in Agriculture and Horticulture, and Susan Tkacik, Horticultural Program Community Education Assistant, have dedicated a great deal of time and effort to establish a welcoming, vibrant, and highly productive Master Gardener program in York County.

Since 2000, this southern Maine contingent of Master Gardeners have grown and donated an extraordinary amount of food to the Maine Harvest for Hunger program that benefits food pantries and people in need.  Since the days when the Plant-A-Row program was formerly in existence, they have actively recruited backyard gardeners and community groups to join their campaign of planting and harvesting extra amounts of food for the hungry.  Throughout the state of Maine, the blue and white Harvest for Hunger signs are evident.  Unique Maine Farms recalls seeing these signs at such farms as Beach Plum Farm in Ogunquit, Morris Farm in Wiscasset, Rogers Farm in Orono, and the Roberts Farm Preserve in Norway.

The gleaning program that is organized and carried out by the York County Master Gardeners has prevented thousands of pounds of produce from going to waste.  Whether it involves harvesting extra vegetables in commercial farm fields or heading to the orchards, the gleaners salvage an enormous amount of food for those who are challenged by hunger and low incomes.

Kids Can Grow programs have popped up throughout the state and the York County Master Gardeners have enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to teach and mentor young gardeners through a series of monthly sessions from April through September.  Children are taught how to choose, plant, and grow nutritious vegetables and herbs, as well as beautiful flowers.  They have the opportunity to build a 3’x5’ raised bed garden at their home with all the materials supplied.  The produce grown in the Kids Can Grow gardens is donated to the Maine Harvest for Hunger program.

The York County Master Gardeners have also reached out to assist the residents of the Caring Unlimited Shelter in Sanford, in teaching them gardening basics, and how to grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers.  At the Portland Flower Show, they host a Children’s Discovery Garden where youngsters can experience gardening firsthand.

Through a partnership with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, the Islesboro Central School offers a Master Gardener’s certification for students. Teachers are trained to be able to use gardens and greenhouses as proficiency-based learning environments. This innovative program of Master Gardener certification at Islesboro Central School is the first program of its kind in the state of Maine.

A sense of goodness and the idea of all-inclusiveness envelops the Master Gardener program.  If someone who has mental or physical limitations or is in need of financial assistance to plant and maintain a garden, the Garden Angel program has been set up.  A Master Gardener will be linked with the person in need of a helping hand so that gardening can indeed take place.

It was fitting that the York County Master Gardeners held their annual meeting at Laudholm Farm because they have cultivated a beautiful native plant demonstration garden and pumpkin patch on the Laudholm property for several years.  These gardens are enjoyed by the public throughout the growing season and at the Punkinfiddle, Earth Day, and Nature Craft festival events held on the property. 

The York County Master Gardeners also maintain gardens at the York County Courthouse and at the Brothers’ Shaker Hill property in Alfred.  One especially notable accomplishment was their successful renovation of a formerly used but abandoned root cellar at the Brothers in Alfred.  It is now a wonderful year-round storage facility for various crops.

There are Master Gardener demonstration gardens throughout the state.  Unique Maine Farms had the fortune to be able to visit the Penobscot Master Gardeners’ Demonstration Garden at Rogers Farm in Orono on three different occasions when the iris and peonies were in bloom and the gardens were truly magnificent!  Each Tuesday evening, a Master Gardener is on hand at Rogers Farm to answer any gardening questions that the public may have.

The York County Master Gardeners have introduced the Yardscaping program which “hopes to inspire Maine people to create and maintain healthy landscapes through ecologically based practices.”  A demonstration garden at Back Cove in Portland utilized Master Gardeners to plant and maintain it.

The annual York County Master Gardeners Spring Plant Sale in Springvale is always a well-attended and popular event.  Area gardeners look forward to purchasing all types of plants including perennials, bulbs, annuals, shrubs, houseplants, and fruits and vegetables.  The proceeds from the sale are used to fund various Master Gardener projects.

Those in attendance at the Annual Meeting of the York County Master Gardeners had the pleasure of viewing the year-in-review slideshow that was created by Frank Wertheim and Allan Amioka.   The over 300 photographs that were included in the slideshow were beautiful and the eclectic choice of background music was most enjoyable. A few of the photos had funny captions that garnered some laughter.  The upbeat slideshow successfully captured and relayed the unique sense of joy and the distinct feelings of sharing and productivity that have become the essence of the York County Master Gardeners’ program.

Unique Maine Farms is particularly grateful to so many of the Cooperative Extension educators and staff who have assisted with the various farm and garden profiles in this educational outreach project.  Many exciting horticultural-related activities are taking place in the state of Maine because of the efforts of Cooperative Extension such as FoodCorps, AgriAbility, and the 4-H program.  The Master Gardener program is yet another one of the well-respected and highly successful accomplishments of the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension.

Harvest for HungerMaster_Gardeners_Harvest_for_Hunger.html
Can GrowMaster_Gardeners_Kids_Can.html
Demonstration Garden
Demonstration Garden
Rogers FarmMaster_Gardeners_Rogers.html

Frank Wertheim, an Extension Educator in Agriculture and Horticulture, oversees the York County Master Gardeners.

Master Gardeners at Laudholm Farm

Master Gardeners at Rogers Farm

Yardscaping at Back Cove in Portland. Photo courtesy of York County Master Gardeners website:

A young gardener at Caring Unlimited. Photo courtesy of York County Master Gardeners website:

Garden Angel program. Photo courtesy of York County Master Gardeners website:

Annual Plant Sale. Photo courtesy of York County Master Gardeners website:

Richard Kersbergen and Vina Lindley helped to facilitate the Science in the Garden field trip for educators to Islesboro on Sept. 9, 2013. The Islesboro Central School offers Master Gardener certification to the students in their school.