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Helping communities grow – the impact of Master Gardener volunteers

Helping communities grow – the impact of Master Gardener volunteers

Hundreds of Garden Organic volunteers have helped tens of thousands of people to benefit from growing food since we launched the Master Gardener Programme in April 2010.

In November 2013, we won the prestigious national ‘Education and Learning’ award from the BIG Lottery Fund’s Local Food Scheme – a £59.8 million national grant programme. We were commended for ‘inspirational work to create a team of mentors who share knowledge across the board with support from an online network’.

We thoroughly appreciate the energy and commitment of every ‘Master Gardener’ mentor across the UK in our urban and rural networks. Each mentor has a flexible volunteer role to suit their lifestyle and interests. Each has expert support from their locally-based co-ordinator, together with bespoke resources and ongoing training.

Please click links for case studies, news, events, photos, and Facebook

Read about our health, social and environmental impacts

Volunteer achievements (spring 2010 – autumn 2013)

  • 23,000 volunteer hours in eight urban and rural networks.
  • 75% retention of 600 trained volunteers across England.
  • 5,000 people now growing food in regularly mentored ‘households’.
    Includes individuals, families and community groups.
  • 65,000 local residents supported at events, talks, estates and schools.

Coventry University’s independent evaluation shows wide ranging benefit for volunteers and households involved in the Master Gardener Programme for 12 months – and continued behavioural change after 36 months. Please see below.


1. Behavioural change after 12 months involvement in the Master Gardener Programme
Research from Coventry University; 299 respondents, August 2013














Get involved today
– volunteer, free growing advice, start Master Gardener network


2. Behavioural change after up to 36 months involvement in the Master Gardener Programme
As compared with 12 month outcomes. Research from Coventry University; 95 respondents, August 2013

  • 65% of households and 95% volunteers still more satisfied with their life.
  • Higher average amount of fruit and vegetables consumed per day.
  • Similar number of hours spent growing food per week.
  • 94% households still growing food with 78% growing the same or a wider range.
  • Nearly half of households and volunteer still making changes to where they buy food.

More details will be published in 2014. Please contact the Master Gardener Programme team here

“For many years we’ve been told anecdotally that gardening is good for you. What these results show is how significant the impact can be in terms of health perceptions, life satisfaction and involvement in the local community.”
Dr Moya Kneafsey, Coventry University

“[The] Master Gardener Programme is such a great scheme. It provides a proven, practical starting point for people to start growing food. It’s a way of learning by sharing others’ experience. Indeed, the approach is based on the training and goodwill of people that share their food growing skills and experience.”
Professor Tim Lang Centre for Food Policy, City University London & President of Garden Organic

“By working with volunteers in their communities, we’re showing that the initial challenges of growing your own food can be overcome. So if that first crop ends up slug eaten, rather than feel demoralised, people look for advice and support instead of giving up.”
Philip Turvil, Master Gardener Programme manager

Click here for an overview of Coventry University’s independent evaluation

Launch a Master Gardener network

Develop a commission with Garden Organic to contribute to your organisation’s health, social and environmental outcomes by launching and managing mentor networks that help people with food growing advice.

Read more about partnership opportunities

Get involved with Master Gardener networks

  • Search local events, blogs and growing advice by your nearest Master Gardeners.
  • Register for 12 months free food growing advice as one of their supported households.
  • Involve your local growing group

Find your nearest Master Gardener

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Coventry & Warwickshire
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Article by Philip Turvil

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