Serving Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion Counties

Vermilion County Master Gardeners

Vermilion County Master Gardeners began serving residents of Vermilion County in 1994. 

The Master Gardeners have partnerships with Danville Area Community College, VA Illiana Health Care System, Douglas Discovery Garden, Danville Public Library, and then Vermilion County Conservation District. 

Master Gardeners research and answer questions from the public on subjects like:

  • plant diseases
  • correct way to plant a tree
  • growing herbs, fruits, vegetables 
  • raised beds
  • native plants
  • pollinators

Last year, about 80 Vermilion County Master Gardeners volunteered over 8,000 hours making their community a better place to live.

Master Gardener Training Classes will be held in the Vermilion County Extension Office in Danville starting in January 2020. Visit our Master Gardener page or call 217-442-8615 for more information.

If you enjoy gardening, learning, and sharing your knowledge with others, then the Master Gardener program may be for you.

How to Become a Master Gardener

Training sessions are typically offered one day a week over an 11 week period and are led by University of Illinois Extension educators and other horticultural experts.

An online option is also available quarterly and is an at-your-own-pace module.

During training, volunteers learn about many different facets of indoor and outdoor gardening.

  • You must attend 60 hours of classroom instruction
  • There are weekly open-book quizzes and a final open-book exam. 
  • Volunteers make a commitment to complete 60 volunteer hours on approved Master Gardener projects within two years of training.

To begin the Master Gardener volunteer application process:

Check the training schedule for your availability.

To complete the application process and to maintain certified active Master Gardener status, volunteers must complete:

Active/Certified Master Gardeners

  • Master Gardener Annual Agreement

To Report Volunteer Hours

Vermilion County Master Gardeners hold educational programs on the third Tuesday of each month. 

Most classes are held at the Danville Public Library 319 N. Vermilion St. at 6:00 p.m. The public is welcome to attend and programs are free except where specified otherwise. Call the Vermilion County Extension office at 217-442-8615 to register, for more information, or to request a reasonable accomodation. We do our best to provide accurate information. On rare occasions, class schedule is subject to change due to educator or location conflicts.

Tentative 2020 Schedule

Jan 2020 –No class due to weather and holidays

Tuesday, Feb 18 6pm Growing Fruit Apples, peaches, strawberries, grapes, and paw paws. There are a wide variety of common and unusual fruits that can be grown in East Central IL. Come listen to a panel of Master Gardeners talk about their experiences growing fruit in our area.Register here.

Tuesday, March 17 6pm Seed Starting VCMG’s grows an amazing variety of seeds; vegetables, flowers and herbs. Come and listen to these local gardeners share their knowledge and personal preferences. They will give recommendations on which varieties do well in our area along with tips on potting mix, grow lights, moisture and other key details. This will be a great way to get a jump start on this year’s garden. This program will take place at International Greenhouse Megastore 70 Eastgate Drive Danville, IL Register here.                                     

Tuesday, April 21 6pm What’s New in Garden Centers? Winter in Illinois is long and gardeners love to see what’s new come spring at the garden center. Whether it is variegated foliage, dwarf sized shrubs, cultivars that bloom longer, are more heat tolerant, thrive in shade or vegetables that come in every shade of the rainbow, horticulture trends enchant gardeners at this time of year. (Berry’s and Mary Stonecipher?)

Tuesday, May 19 6pm ‘Propagating Plants’ with Charlie Collom Join Master Gardener Charlie Collom as he demonstrates how to propagate geraniums, coleus and other plants. Learn the correct way to take leaf cuttings, the different planting mediums that produce good results along with water and light requirements needed to ensure long term success. Charlie will demonstrate the process teaching you how to care for your new plants. Attendees will have the opportunity to make a few cuttings to take home. The class will be held at International Greenhouse Company located at 70 Eastgate Drive in Danville, IL. Greenhouse Megastore will furnish all the necessary materials. You may wish to bring garden gloves.

Tuesday, June 16 6pm Backyard Beekeeping and Pollinators Walter Deck of Walt’s Acres is known for his beekeeping and honey. Walter will discuss hive construction, plants for bees, home orchards and pollinators. Attendees will tour a large pollinator garden. There will be taste testing with Walt’s own honey. Join Master Gardener, Walter Deck in the garden and learn about back yard bee keeping and the importance of pollinators in every garden. This class will take place at Walter’s Acres 800 N Orchard in Ridge Farm.

Tuesday, July 21 Compost and Soil -How to establish and sustain a healthy garden soil with Ryan Pankau “Assuming that you’ve got average soil with average problems and you can only add one thing. Compost would be the thing to choose. Other amendments will solve particular problems more quickly or completely, but compost is the best all-around soil conditioner available” Planet Natural. You don't need a degree in chemistry to compost. Once you understand the basic principles, the methods and containers for composting can be as diverse as the gardener. Sandy will explain how composting is no more complicated than baking a cake. Most of the ingredients for the compost pile will be clippings and plants from the garden and landscape. Handouts will be provided.

Tuesday, August 18 Enjoying the Harvest with Vermilion County Master Gardeners VCMG’s will bring home grown herbs, flowers and produce with information on what they have grown. They will discuss specific issues they had in 2020 with diseases, pests and insects. There will be tasting at the end of this program held at Danville Library.

Tuesday, September 15 All About Houseplants including bringing them in for Winter A panel of Master Gardeners will present a program on Houseplants- bring your questions. Carol Miller, Rhonda Ruhnow

Tuesday, October 20 Pumpkins and Squash with Pearson’s Melon Farm or -Farmer’s Market Garlic Growers from Alvin

Tuesday, November 17 Bison as a Sustainable Food Source

Tuesday, December 1 Holiday Wreaths with Mary Stonecipher & Pat Sollars Mary Stonecipher is known for her horticulture design. Cost is $15 for the class. We will furnish a variety of fresh greenery. Bring your garden gloves and decorations to add your personal style. You must pre-pay online or by check/cash at the Vermilion County Extension Office 3164 N. Vermilion, Danville. Make checks payable to: University of Illinois. Call 217-442-8615 for more information. We are unable to take walk-ins. Space is limited and the class fills up quickly. Your place is not reserved until payment is received. ‘Make and Take’ $15 Fee required to cover cost of all materials including greens. Class will be held at International Greenhouse Supply 70 Eastgate Danville Industrial Park off Main St.

*Schedule is subject to change.

Garden Walk: Master Gardeners collaborate with local residents allowing the public to view amazing gardens in the community on one special day in June. Sunday, June 14, 2020

Garden Day Workshop, Saturday, March 14, 2020 DACC Bremer Conference Center. An annual event local gardeners wait for all winter. It is how many kick off the spring gardening season. Admission includes 4 speakers, shopping with garden themed venders, door prizes, a silent auction, and a delicious lunch prepared by the DACC Culinary School. The event sells out every year so attendees are encouraged to register early in February. The vendors and silent auction are free and open to the public from 8am-3pm.

Atwood House Garden: Located at Kennekuk County Park, Master Gardeners maintain the gardens from spring to fall and help with new plantings of both flowers and vegetables. They participate in the Plant A Row program where they grow vegetables for local food pantries.

Kennekuk Herb Garden: Master Gardeners plant and tend over 100 labeled herbs in raised beds. The Kennekuk Herb Garden received certification from the Illinois Herb Society in 2015. There is a section on Plants used by Native Americans, Plants Found in the Bible and Culinary Herbs. Tours with Master Gardeners are available- call the Extension Office at 217-442-8615 for more information.

Plant Sale: Saturday, May 16, 2020 at First Presbyterian Church, Danville7am-Noon Plants include annuals, perennials, vegetables and herbs for the garden. Master Gardeners start many of the plants from seed and/or take them from their own gardens.

Radio Program: Provides an opportunity for the public to submit questions about gardening practices or concerns during a weekly radio show. It airs on Wednesdays on WDAN, our local radios station, at 5:00 PM.

Horticulture Help Line: Every year the Vermilion County Extension Office receives gardening questions from local residents regarding plants, insects and plant diseases. Master Gardeners research and answer these calls providing reliable information at no cost to residents. 217-442-8615

Speakers Bureau: Master Gardeners deliver horticulture presentations to local community organizations on a wide variety of topics like Container Gardening, Pollinator Pockets, Herb Gardens, Vegetable Gardens, Seed Starting, Annuals and Perennials, Trees and Shrubs etc. Call the Extension Office for more information: 217-442-8615

VA Committee: Master Gardeners volunteer about 3,000 hours a year at the Danville VA. They are active in the VA Greenhouse where they propagate, grow, and maintain plants. They design, plant and maintain a Pollinator Garden on the grounds where visitors, staff and veterans can sit and enjoy hummingbirds, butterflies and other pollinators zip in and out. They are responsible for maintaining the VA Healing Garden- as peaceful secluded garden available only to veterans residents, as well as monthly Horticulture Therapy programs for veterans in several areas and different ages. 

Danville Public Library Children's Wonder Garden A Children's Garden Club that meets weekly all year. Master Gardeners design, plant and tend a garden with the children as well as offering horticulture programs indoors like growing mushrooms, seed starting and forcing bulbs.

Douglas Discovery Garden Master Gardeners plant and maintain annual, perennial flower, herb and vegetable gardens with the local community. They collaborate with local schools to offer gardening classes in winter months culminating with students planting seedlings in about 20 raised beds in May.  

Monthly Educational Horticulture Programs held at the Danville Public Library -usually the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 6pm  (unless indicated otherwise), 319 N. Vermilion St. in Danville. You may pre-register online or at the Extension Office 3164 N. Vermilion. Call 217-442-8615 or email jhanraha@illinois.edu  You may also register at the door except for 'Make and Take' classes where a small fee applies to cover supplies.