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Comparison: Garden Clubs and Master Gardeners


Looking to grow as a gardener and meet people with similar interests? You may be interested in joining a local garden club or Ramsey County Master Gardeners, yet aren’t sure which one is the best fit. There are similarities and differences to consider, such as time commitment and whether you’re looking to hone your gardening skills for personal enrichment or share your knowledge through community volunteering.

How do They Compare

Both garden clubs and Master Gardener volunteer programs are rewarding to gardeners. Both offer an opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills.

You don't have to choose! Some garden club members start off as Master Gardener volunteers, and vice versa! While not mutually exclusive, it all depends on how you’re looking to dedicate your time.

Read on to learn more about these two groups.


Garden Clubs & Plant Societies

Joining a garden club or plant society is a great way to meet people with similar interests.

Who can Join

Local garden clubs are open for anyone to join whether you’re a new gardener learning the basics or have years of experience digging in the dirt. There is no formal registration process to join a garden club – just show up!

What do They Do

Garden clubs often host expert speakers at their meetings and there is plenty of time for members to socialize afterwards in an informal setting. These meetings are not mandatory and members are often allowed to bring a guest.

Some garden clubs offer workshops such as floral design or arrange occasional field trips for members to go mushroom foraging, for example.

Garden clubs may also host garden tours that are open to the public, as well as fundraising events such as plant sales where proceeds may help pay for guest speakers, go towards the club's operational needs, or support a non-profit organization in need.

Member Requirements

Most garden clubs generally require a yearly membership fee to participate. There are no set volunteering/community service, participation, or educational requirements.

Join a Garden Club

Minnesota Gardening Groups (MN State Horticultural Society)

Garden Club Examples


Master Gardeners

Joining a Master Gardener Volunteer Program is a great way to serve the community.

Who can Join

Gardeners of all skill levels are encouraged to join the Master Gardeners; for those newer to gardening, willingness to continue learning and confidence in your gardening knowledge is helpful. More experience might be more helpful but top-of-the-line education is provided to all Master Gardener volunteers.

What do They Do

Master Gardener Volunteer Programs (like the Ramsey County Master Gardeners) are similar to garden clubs and plant societies in that they also hosts fundraising plant sales, often have educational meetings with expert guest speakers, garden gate tours and the opportunity to meet people with common interests.

However, Master Gardener Volunteer Programs differs from a garden club in that the Master Gardeners are a community service-driven program. Master Gardener volunteers help educate the community by teaching classes, answering questions at local events, farmers markets, and park spaces. There are also opportunities to join an internal committee or participate in internal educational events and activities.

Volunteer Requirements

There is a minimum annual community service requirement to remain in the program and building education is also an annual requirement. Master Gardener volunteers begin as interns and are required to complete an educational course to learn more about eco-friendly, research-based yard and garden practices. After that, all volunteers are required to participate in a set number of hours each year, both community service and education.

Join the Master Gardeners

Become a Master Gardener volunteer (University of MN Extension)

Master Gardener Examples


Mindy J

Ramsey County Master Gardener volunteer

With Thanks To

Many thanks to these folks who are BOTH garden club members and Master Gardener volunteers for their input! Debbie L (Saint Paul Garden Club), Susie D (Garden Club of Ramsey County), Katie S (Cherokee Heights Garden Club), Sue S (Garden Club of Ramsey County), Liz G (Washington County Horticultural Society), Laurel W (Garden Club of Ramsey County), Jan F (St Anthony Park Garden Club), and Sue V ( St Anthony Park Garden Club & Four Seasons Garden Club)


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