The first Master Gardener (MG) program was started in 1972 in Seattle, Washington by Cooperative Extension Agents as a means of more effectively addressing questions posed to them by eager home gardeners. Within a few years the program was adopted throughout Washington and by many other states. Today, Master Gardeners are in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several Canadian provinces. The vast majority of Master Gardener programs are run by the Cooperative Extension Services of land-grant universities. MG programs are usually organized county by county, with extension agents and university professors serving as program instructors.
The first Massachusetts Master Gardener program was started in 1977 by the Extension Service at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In 1989, state budget cuts forced a new approach. The Master Gardener program went in different directions in different parts of the state. The Amherst-area Master Gardeners founded an independent nonprofit called the Western Massachusetts Master Gardener Association. Barnstable County Extension became home of the Master Gardeners of Cape Cod. The Boston Natural Areas Networks started a Master Urban Gardener Program for urban and community gardeners. A small group of dedicated Master Gardeners formed the Eastern Massachusetts Master Gardeners Association. This group operated on its own until 1993, when the Massachusetts Horticultural Society (MHS) officially adopted the program and began running its training programs as well as providing staff and logistical support.
In fall of 2008, the MHS Master Gardeners became incorporated as an independent, nonprofit organization, the Massachusetts Master Gardener Association (MMGA). We have volunteer projects throughout the eastern half of the state and have partnerships with numerous other groups including: Massachusetts Horticultural Society (MHS), Tower Hill Botanic Garden (THBG), Native Plant Trust (NPT), and The Garden Club Federation of Massachusetts, Inc. (GCFM).