Gardener Sandy Farber Bandier

Sandy Farber
Sandy Farber Bandier, pictured on the UDC rooftop pollinator garden she helped to establish, offers tips for planning a pollinator garden.
Sandy Farber Bandier, an extension agent and master gardener coordinator for 15 years, works for the University of the District of Columbia’s (UDC) cooperative extension service. She and her team of master gardeners serve the entire city of Washington, D.C.

Sandy, what is the best thing about being an extension agent?
“The people….master gardeners…. I’ve never seen a group of volunteers with such passion. Also, being able to give back to the city (Washington, D.C.) where I was born and raised. Not many extension agents can say that.”

How did you get started in the extension service?
“I actually started in my career in the judicial system, working as a district court commissioner. When thinking about starting a new career, I had always enjoyed growing plants, so I went to work in a nursery. My nursery skills  transferred very well to the greenhouse and green roof project that I’m currently working on. Then I took the master gardening program here and decided to become an extension agent. The skills from my former job as a court commissioner helped to prepare me. In that role, I served the public and I was used to outreach work, even if the subject matter is different. Also, I love plants, I love being outdoors, and I’m a people person – all of which have been a benefit in my role as an extension agent.”

Can you provide some information about the extension service and master gardening program?

“There is a land grant university in every state, and the extension service is the outreach component of the university. Extension agents serve as a resource to farmers, and in cities, as a resource to those involved in urban agriculture, for example gardening and landscaping. Master gardeners are volunteers who help to educate the public about urban agriculture subjects. In Washington, D.C., the program provides interested individuals with extensive training in topics such as plant pathology, entomology, urban soils, and plant propagation and pruning. In return, participants are required to dedicate volunteer time to demonstrate horticultural practices; answer questions, provide information, and speak at public events; and participate in community gardening programs.”

Interested in becoming a master gardener?
Master gardeners work with the extension service to provide gardeners with unbiased, research-based information on gardens, lawns and landscapes. While most master gardener programs are similar, individuals interested in becoming a master gardener should check with their local extension service to learn about the state-specific requirements for becoming a master gardener.

What is your connection to the Feed a Bee initiative?
UDC’s new green roof project is designed to provide green space with a greenhouse built on the rooftop of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences facility. The project will create 20,000 square feet (about half the size of a football field) of green space as part of a city-wide initiative. Bayer provided funding to purchase plants for a pollinator garden in the space as part of its Feed a Bee initiative.

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