Knox County Master Gardeners

Master Gardener Logo

Welcome to the Knox County Master Gardeners!

The Extension Master Gardeners of Knox County is an award-winning volunteer organization comprised of gardening enthusiasts who are passionate about horticulture, volunteering, and educating in their community. The main goal of the Knox County Master Gardener Program is to get more people in our local area interested and involved in the love of gardening. We believe that the more people learn to love gardening, the healthier our world will be.

Our True Purpose

To realize our mission, our volunteer team educates the community about home horticulture so that our neighbors have the current knowledge about best practices and methods that are environmentally friendly and sustainable. We also manage a variety of community and demonstration gardens around the county that provide healthy food to people in need.

We believe that when evidence-based gardening approaches are used, consumers will see better results in their gardens, feel the joy and satisfaction of gardening, and help contribute to a healthier, more sustainable world.

Volunteers Make the Difference!

There are over 200 enthusiastic volunteers throughout Knox County that manage all aspects of the program and deliver services to the community. Everyone who is trained to become a certified Master Gardener is expected to return a minimum number of community service hours. Most volunteers contribute much more than expected because we are so passionate about what we do and see real impact as a result of our work. We know you will, too.

 Residents of Knox and surrounding counties are invited to participate in the 2024 UT-TSU Extension – Knox County Master Gardener volunteer training!

The Extension Master Gardeners of Knox County is an award-winning volunteer organization comprised of gardening enthusiasts who are passionate about horticulture, volunteering, and educating in their community.

The training will be held every Wednesday morning from 9am to 12pm starting January 10th and ending April 24th, 2024*. Classes will be held in-person at the UT Extension Eastern Region office, located at 1801 Downtown West Blvd., Knoxville, TN. Topics include Basic Botany, Integrated Pest Management, Soil Science/Nutrition, Fruit and Vegetable Gardening, and more!

Applications should be submitted by November 1st, 2023. The cost is $200 and is due by December 1st, 2023. The registration fee includes all training materials and is due after receiving an acceptance letter. Upon completing the training course, participants are required to complete 40 hours of volunteer service in Knox County and 8 hours of continued education. 

For more program information or to apply, please contact the Knox County Master Gardener program coordinator, Rylan Thompson, at 865-215-4593 or

*There will be three classes held on Thursday: February 8th, February 15th, and April 4th

The Tennessee Extension Master Gardener program is open to all gardening enthusiasts, whether you are a beginner or a professional

KCMG Member John Payne Awarded the Virginia Raskin Award

After moving to Tennessee to the Solway community in Knox County in April 2014 with his wife Jennifer, John Payne graduated with the Master Gardener Class of 2016.  In that same year of training, he volunteered over 100 hours.

Since then, he has logged over 600 hours of volunteer service, 60+ hours of CEU’s and nearly 3400 miles. This nomination is made by multiple project leaders and committee chairs, as John’s service hours include:

  • Volunteer time over multiple years at the former garden of the Hardin Valley Campus of Pellissippi State Community College.
  • Several public presentations on the “rules and tools” of pruning for the Speakers Bureau.  In 2021, John offered azalea and rhododendron specimens in his landscape to be pruned as part of the “Prune Like a Pro” video series.
  • Chair of the 2019 nominating committee and member of the 2017, 2018, and 2021 nominating committee.
  • Member of the Finance Committee in 2020.
  • Active participation in Growing Connections since it started as a subcommittee of the Membership Committee.  As recently as December 2021, he was working in another MG’s garden while that MG was incapacitated.  He was also working on a special project for this committee until January 2022.
  • Regular Ask-a-Master-Gardener volunteer, both in the “office” and at special events such as the TN Valley Fair. John served as an Ask-a-Master Gardener “on-line” in 2020 and 2021.
  • Dependable and faithful volunteer at The BLOOM Center since its beginning in 2019.
    • John made very important contributions to the design and development of the therapeutic maze at The BLOOM Center even during the pandemic.
    • He made suggestions that resulted in a much better maze path design that will make the path much easier to maintain for years to come and give it a much more finished look than the original plan. 
    • He worked to install the underground electrical conduit for the vortex fountain. 
    • He also worked on compiling some of The BLOOM Center data and helped organize the production of training materials.

John performed these 600 hours of volunteer service while having a significant underlying medical condition.

His dedication to KCMG’s and UT Extension’s mission and our community makes him an extraordinarily well-deserving recipient of the Virginia Raskin Award.