Girl holding basket of lettuce.
Making a difference
Impacting food security in our communities
Support the Master Gardener Program

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Please contact our Statewide Program Leader if you require this information in a different format.

Solving problems in our communities

Engaging university-trained volunteers to empower and sustain diverse communities with relevant, unbiased, research-based horticulture and environmental stewardship education. Read about WSU Master Gardeners in the news.

Plants ready to plant in a garden.

Food security continues to be an issue in American’s lives. Food security means access by all people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. According to the USDA, an estimated 11.1% of U.S. households were food insecure in 2018. About 56% of food insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest Federal food and nutrition assistance programs, SNAP, WIC, and the National School Lunch Program.

Research indicates food banks play a key role in reducing food insecurity, particularly when nutrient rich foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables are available to hungry families. Additionally, families who grow their own food are more likely to eat fresh produce than families who do not.


The WSU Extension Master Gardener program teaches food gardening to communities across the state in an effort to close the food security gap and to support the consumption of healthy food. In 2019:

  • 4,300 adults learned about vegetable gardening, growing small fruits and tree fruits.
  • 1,500 youth learned about vegetable gardening, growing small fruits and tree fruits.
  • Volunteers organized and taught in 68 school gardens.
  • Volunteers taught in 91 community and food bank gardens.
  • 57,500 pounds of produce was donated to local food banks.
Three wheelbarrows full of produce.

Impacts of teaching food gardening for the health of Washington residents.

Snohomish County Extension Master Gardeners have taught a 6-week series of classes on Growing Groceries for years. A couple who had never gardened before learned to grow their own food after attending the courses. They grew 250 pounds of tomatoes, 200 pounds of squash, and various varieties of artichokes, beans, greens, potatoes, corn, onions, leeks, and copious amounts of berries. They gave produce to neighbors and food banks once they filled their own pantry.

In Yakima County, Extension Master Gardeners help to support the food supply chain by engaging with at risk youth who are in the Juvenile Justice Center. Youth learn to grow their own food at the salsa vegetable garden on the campus. They also learn about the importance of pollinators and creating pollinator habitat. Growing food gives purpose to youth who are otherwise pathless.

In San Juan County, Extension Master Gardeners taught low income families to grow their own food. Families learned about site selection and soil types, were encouraged to grow vegetables that their family likes to eat and about ideas for getting their children to eat fresh vegetables. Hands-on activities included transplanting starts, fertilizing, weeding, slug control, and watering. Surveys showed the families learned specific techniques for successful food gardening.

2 0 1 9 by the numbers

  • 4,100 certified volunteers serve Washington State communities
  • 760 new volunteers trained.
  • 333,300 volunteer hours served
  • 48,000 continuing education hours earned
  • 4,500 plant and insect diagnostic clinics served 79,500 citizens
  • 3,700 residents learned about water quality and water conservation
  • 4,300 residents learned how to grow their own food
  • 1,300 residents learned about pesticide use and safety
  • 313,600 residents received research based gardening and environmental stewardship education