Buncombe Master Gardeners

About Us


As Master Gardener volunteers, we are part of a vast national Cooperative Extension system that seeks to help individuals, families and communities put research based knowledge to work in their lives. The Master Gardener program is supported by research based information generated at NC State University, NC A&T State University and other land-grant colleges.

Our mission is to provide education and current research-based urban horticultural information for our community through the North Carolina Cooperative Extension programs and activities; while striving to improve and preserve our natural environment.


The Buncombe County Master Gardeners are community volunteers who support and engage in projects and activities that will enhance the quality of life for Buncombe County residents. Members in the Master Gardeners programs are citizens of the local community who not only take an active interest in their own lawns, trees and gardens, but also strive to promote sound horticultrual practices in the community. Members receive invaluble training and continuing opportunities for educaiton, then share their horticultural expertise through a wide variety of projects benefiting Buncombe County residents and organizations.

The Extension Master Gardener program allows the local Extension to extend education to an ever increasing gardening audience. It also provide a highly visible way to meet the public demand for information and to develop a strong support group.

What Do Master Gardeners Do?

Master Gardeners are volunteers who love to garden and help others. We complete a Master Gardener Training Program, which is presented by our sponsor, the North Carolina Extension Service. Training sessions are held every year in the winter months. In return, interns must give 40 hours of volunteer service (veterans, 30 hours) back to the Agricultural Extension programs and their community to become a Master Gardener. After certification as a North Carolina Master Gardener, we complete at least 20 hours of continuing education annually and give 30 hours of volunteer service to the program. Educational hours and service to the community is required for each year’s re-certification. There are approximately 120 active, certified Master Gardeners in Buncombe County.

For information on becoming an Extension Master Gardener go to http://buncombe.ces.ncsu.edu/buncombecountymastergardeners/

What is the Extension Master GardenerSM  (EMG) Volunteer Program?

The Extension Master Gardener volunteer program is a national program of trained volunteers who work in partnership with their county Cooperative Extension Service office to extend information throughout the community. The first EMG program was started in Washington State in 1972. Forty-six states now have EMG programs with over 15,000 people participating nationwide. The EMG program provides gardeners with education in a wide range of horticultural topics. After successfully completing the training, participants become certified EMG Volunteers. EMG’s provide volunteer leadership and service to their community in gardening activities. The volunteer activities can include answering gardening questions, conducting plant clinics, planting demonstration gardens, talking to community groups and more. Check out the Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener Website! 

How does the EMG Volunteer Program benefit me?

Through the training program and the interaction with other experienced gardeners, you will become a more knowledgeable gardener. You will also receive a manual and many additional publications. There are also EMG workshops held around the state that all EMG’s are welcomed to attend. There will be opportunities to take field trips to interesting gardens and nurseries. And you will meet many people who share your interest in gardening. The EMG volunteer program is not all work. The volunteers often enjoy socializing at cookouts and covered dish suppers during and after the training period. Social activity allows the participants time to discuss new ideas as well as to forge new friendships.

How does the EMG Volunteer Program benefit the community?

As an EMG Volunteer, you will share the knowledge gained in the training sessions with other gardeners in the community. You can do this in a variety of ways. Every time you answer a gardening question from a friend, you share the knowledge you have gained. The Extension Horticulture program in Buncombe County will offer many opportunities to assist with programs and activities. Volunteers often have their own ideas of activities to offer educational programs for the community. Volunteer hours are flexible, depending on your own interests and available time. Travel expenses are tax deductible.

Do I have what it takes to be an EMG Volunteer?


  • had a vegetable or flower garden?
  • grown roses or houseplants?
  • planted and maintained a lawn?
  • planted or pruned trees and shrubs?


  • meeting and talking with people?
  • searching for answers to questions?
  • organizing workshops or meetings?
  • attending educational classes?
  • learning more about horticulture?
  • sharing your time and knowledge with others?


  • at least four hours of time per month that you can volunteer to North Carolina State University’s Cooperative Extension Service in Buncombe County helping us to “HELP PEOPLE PUT KNOWLEDGE TO WORK”

How do I become a EMG Volunteer

The desire to help others is the first requirement. A personal commitment to complete the required training and to volunteer at least 40 hours of service is equally important. To get your name on the list for the next EMG Volunteer Training Program, call or come by the Cooperative Extension Service office for an application form.  Classes are held January through April – one afternoon each week for 13 weeks.  A fee is charged for teaching materials. Application forms for the following year’s program are available September.  For more information on the Extension Master Gardener program, contact alison.arnold@ncsu.edu Also Check out the Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener Website! 

Speakers Bureau

Does your group need an interesting speaker?

The Buncombe County Master Gardeners Speakers Bureau provides speakers on gardening topics to garden clubs and other organizations. We appreciate your calling at least six weeks in advance of your desired program date. No fees are charged for our programs. Donations are gratefully accepted.

If your organization would like the Speakers Bureau to make a presentation, email Debbie Breck breckde@gmail.com or Barb Harrison bharr0317@bellsouth.net or call 828-255-5522.

Contact Us

Extension Master Gardeners of Buncombe County

Email us

Call us        (828) 255-5522

Buncombe County Extension Office

94 Coxe Ave., Asheville, NC  28801


Helpful Resources from North Carolina State University

More information on many topics is available at the NC State Urban Horticulture page.

Gardening in small spaces:    Intensive Vegetable Gardening

Container Grown Vegetables:    Intensive Vegetable Gardening

Plant Propagation: Starting Plants From Seeds

Plant Propagation:  Plant Propagation by Stem Cuttings

Plant Propagation:  Plant Progagation by Layering


Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

Recommendations for Hemlock Wooly Adelgid Control

Raised Beds:    Intensive Vegetable Gardening

Cold Frames:    Cold Frames and Hot Beds

Hoop House:    Season Extension

Rain Barrels:     Rainwater Harvesting


Rehabbing existing shrubs and trees


Roses for North Carolina

Native Trees, Shrubs, and Woody Vines


Going Native: Urban Landscaping for Wildlife with Native Plants

Hummingbirds–Landscaping for Wildlife With Native Plants

Butterflies–Butterflies in Your Back Yard

Nonnative Invasive Plants of the Southern Forests

A Management Guide for Invasive Plants in Southern Forests

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