Organic Master Gardener Certificate



Be prepared for a major shift in paradigms! This is a gardening course, and so much more — this course is intense, challenging and inspiring. Students have called it “life changing” because once we truly understand the connection between soil health, plant health, human health and environmental health, we look at the world with different eyes. Finally, a comprehensive organic gardening course for urban garden enthusiasts! Gather with like-minded, environmentally conscious gardeners to learn about new topics:

  • Learn to create gardens without harmful chemicals
  • Become involved with SOUL (Society for Organic Urban Land Care) and share your knowledge with your community
  • Gain essential skills to start or enhance your own business in the rapidly growing organic land care industry
  • Prepare to write the SOUL Organic Certification exam for land care professionals
  • Earn generous continuing education credits to maintain your industry certifications (ISA, CNLA, BCSLA, SOUL)

This program is offered in partnership with Gaia College (

Topics covered include:

  • Botany/adaptions within ecosystems
  • Soil ecosystems
  • Soil testing
  • Soil fertility management
  • Composting
  • Teas and brews
  • Water wise gardening
  • Permaculture design
  • Garden bed installation
  • Pruning
  • Landscape health
  • Lawns
  • Garden design and construction


Students should meet all the following prerequisites before registering:

  • Have internet access
  • Have an email account
  • Have basic gardening tools (including bypass pruners)
  • Students must arrange their own transportation to off-site events


To graduate, students must meet all the following requirements:

  • Minimum 90% attendance
  • Satisfactory completion of all assignments and online quizzes


Catherine Dale

After a decade of maintenance work in the horticulture industry, I started to wonder if there were better ways to deal with landscape problems. I realized I was treating the symptoms, not the causes, of the sick landscapes I was supposed to be caring for – that the conventional approach was not working. I began to explore organic principles and realized that the key to landscape health was working with nature, not warring against it. Time for an awakening!

In partnership with the Burnaby School District and Gaia College, I instruct the Organic Master Gardener and Organic Horticulture Specialist programs. I also instruct the Plant Identification course and guest lecture in the Ecological Landscape Design program. These courses are designed for professional and home gardeners to learn how to manage the landscape in an environmentally friendly way.

I also teach the Residential Landscape Technician program – for 20 years! It is an entry-level program to landscapers, many of whom have started their own businesses.

I work with the BC Landscape and Nursery Association, instructing the Horticulture Basics program, preparing and presenting entry-level information to new landscape employees across the province.

Burnaby School District’s Community & Continuing Education Services have been approved by the Industry Training Authority as a Training Provider for the Landscape Horticulturist Apprenticeship, so I coordinate the instructors and learning material in this program. Graduates of this program become trade certified in Landscape Horticulture, a Red Seal program.

Other qualifications:

  • Qualified for my Journeyperson certification in Landscape Horticulture in the early 1990’s
  • Instructor at Capilano College’s Horticulture program in 2005-2006 teaching Soils and Integrated Pest Management
  • SOUL certified in Organic Landcare, 2005
  • Over 30 years of experience in the horticulture industry, working for several municipalities, golf courses, private gardens, restoring heritage gardens and organically managing the GVRD’s compost demonstration garden
  • “Educator of the Year” award from the BC Landscape and Nursery Association, 2004
  • Awarded the City of Burnaby’s Environmental Award for work at the Eagles Estate Heritage Garden on the shores of Deer Lake, 2006
  • Worked as head gardener on the mainland for the Land Conservancy restoring historical and cultural gardens
  • Completed the Provincial Instructor’s Diploma in Adult Education
  • Involved with the Communities in Bloom program
  • Instructing Horticulture programs for Corrections Canada inmates
  • Certified Permaculture Instructor


I just wanted to drop you a note to say how much I enjoyed your class. It was a real eye opener for me and has given me a new appreciation of why organic practices are the only way. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and making the class and outings such an enjoyable experience. I’m so excited to apply the information that you taught us in my own yard!
I can’t begin to say how meaningful. Like an epiphany, and I don’t think that’s overstating. Thank you for all that I have learned and for some eye opening discoveries.
It has simplified my gardening life and will save me a ton of money. It definitely changed my view of my garden.
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