Our mission is to educate residents of Culpeper, Greene, Madison, and Orange counties about safe, effective and sustainable garden management practices. We are volunteers who have received extensive training under the auspices of Virginia Tech and the Virginia Cooperative Extension Office to provide unbiased, research-based horticultural information and advice to the communities in our three counties. We hold two meetings per year, and have at least one annual field trip. Additionally, every two to three years, we hold a day long training conference with speakers and topics of interest to the Master Gardener community. Membership is $25 annually, due January 1, each year.
The first area Master Gardeners finished their training in 1988 in Culpeper under the direction of the Virginia Cooperative Extension office. Training classes continued and ten years later a group formed the Four County Master Gardeners. The group’s name changed to the Rapidan River Master Gardeners in 2012. This group currently consists of about 40 MGs from the counties of Culpeper, Madison, Greene and Orange.
Virginia Cooperative Extension is an educational outreach program of Virginia's land grant universities: Virginia Tech and Virginia State University. It is part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) (formerly Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture. Every state has a Cooperative Extension office and 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. Additionally, Master Gardeners work with professionals, such as teachers, activity therapists, and others who work with people, thus carrying the benefits of horticulture to a much broader population than homeowners alone.
"Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners (VCE-MGs) are a vital part of Virginia Cooperative Extension with nearly 5,500 active volunteers providing services in more than 85% of our localities throughout the Commonwealth. In 2010, VCE-MGs contributed more than 335,000 hours and made more than 550,000 contacts on behalf of VCE and Virginia Tech. The amount of volunteer time provided by VCE-MGs is comparable to 168 full time equivalents and has an economic value of nearly $7.2 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.