Our mission is to educate Loudoun County, VA residents about safe, effective and sustainable landscape management practices. We are volunteers who have received extensive training under the auspices of Virginia Tech and the VCE Loudoun office to provide unbiased research-based horticultural information to the community.
In the mid-80s Loudoun County was still predominantly agricultural, and the Director of VCE Loudoun saw a need for “Neighborhood Plant Consultants” to provide horticultural advice to county residents. Volunteers were recruited through radio announcements, news articles, and outreach to garden clubs. The first group of Loudoun County Master Gardener trainees completed 30 hours of instruction in topics such as pruning and insect control as provided by experts brought in from Fairfax County, and 30 hours of volunteer work.
From the creation of a practical organic garden for growing vegetables and fruit where the public could visit and learn about chemical-free gardening to the establishment of the advanced Master Gardener Tree and Water Stewards programs, under the auspices of Virginia Tech and VCE Loudoun, the VCE Loudoun Master Gardener volunteers continue to evolve in finding ways to provide unbiased research-based horticultural information to the community.
Loudoun County Master Gardeners Timeline and Milestones
1985: Program with 10-12 volunteers organized by the Director of the Loudoun County Extension Office
1991: First formal VCE Loudoun Master Gardener training class
1992: Demonstration Garden broke ground at Ida Lee Park in Leesburg – focus on organic vegetable gardening
1995: Master Gardeners organize to establish an association
2009: Loudoun County Master Gardener Association received its 501 (C) (3) non-profit status
Master Gardener Program
Virginia Cooperative Extension is an educational outreach program of Virginia’s land grant universities: Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, and a part of the National Institute of Food & Agriculture: Cooperative Extension System Offices, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. Every state has a Cooperative Extension office and now 48 states have a Master Gardener Program. The Master Gardener Program was established to assist the Extension office in meeting the enormous increase in requests from homeowners for horticultural information and advice.
“Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners (VCE-MGs) are a vital part of Virginia Cooperative Extension with more than 4,000 active volunteers in nearly all counties throughout the Commonwealth. In 2003, VCE-MGs contributed more than 230,000 hours and made more than 350,000 contacts on behalf of VCE and Virginia Tech. The amount of volunteer time provided by VCE-MGs is comparable to 111 full time equivalents and has an economic value of nearly $4.6 million. VCE Master Gardener volunteers are an invaluable and irreplaceable asset to the citizens of Virginia.“ David D. Close, State Master Gardener Coordinator, Virginia Tech.