A Little History
Horticulturist John K. Arbogast was THE man in Roanoke City to ask gardening questions. His job as the Virginia Cooperative Extension Environmental Horticultural Agent led him to be interested in the new Master Gardener Volunteer program premiering in Washington State. In 1987 he launched a Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener program in Roanoke and trained a bunch of enthusiastic volunteers. Shortly thereafter, our little bunch of volunteers banded together to form the Roanoke Master Gardener Association (RMGA) and established bylaws in 1989.
In 1993 Barbara Leach joined the Roanoke County Extension Office, replacing their outgoing Horticultural Technician and answering questions for Roanoke, Craig, Botetourt, and Allegheny counties. By 1996 Roanoke City and County offices merged and Barbara was asked to be the Master Gardener Coordinator. Barbara retired in 2020 and we are currently searching for a replacement.
From the little band of gardeners in Roanoke City it expanded to include Roanoke, Craig, Botetourt counties, and City of Salem. In 2021 we have 55 active veteran Master Gardeners (MGs) and 5 interns waiting in the wings to become veterans at the completion of their required internship. In years prior to COVID-19 we have had as many as 104 volunteers!
Extension Master Gardeners are volunteer educators who work within their communities to encourage and promote environmentally sound horticulture practices through sustainable landscape management, education, and training. As an educational outreach component of the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), the Master Gardener program brings the resources of Virginia’s land-grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, to their communities. This fun fellowship offers something for everyone and provides an outlet for you to become involved in your community through environmental education.
John K. Arbogast at a compost demonstration
Barbara Leach hard at work.