Cornell Cooperative Extension, a non-profit education agency, was established in 1917 to help strengthen families and communities, enhance and protect our environment, and foster economic development. We are part of our national extension system and are affiliated with Cornell University in Ithaca, New York State’s land-grant university. Our funding, which is through the county, grants, and gifts, supports our program areas: Agriculture, Marine, 4-H Youth Development, the Suffolk County Farm, and Family Health and Wellness.
Agriculture’s Community Horticulture Program updates the CCE Suffolk Long Island Gardening blog with current information as part of our public outreach on Long Island, NY. The Community Horticulture Program offers horticulture education to gardeners, homeowners, landscapers, and community volunteers who landscape and garden in public places. Our goal is to help develop environmental consciousness, expand people’s horticultural experience, and improve the quality of community life throughout Suffolk County. Some strategies to achieve this include:
- Promoting stewardship of the total growing environment through the practice of sustainable horticulture, which employs water-wise garden design and irrigation, native plants and habitat for pollinators, weed-suppressive ground covers, composting, and integrated pest management.
- Finding ways to reduce or eliminate the unnecessary use of chemicals, fertilizers, and pesticides in order to grow quality vegetables and fruit in our gardens and maintain healthy lawns and landscapes.
- Demonstrating such cultural practices as soil conservation (proper use of amendments), good garden site and plant selection, efficient drip irrigation, integrated pest management, and composting to recycle kitchen scraps and garden waste into healthy garden soil.
Visitors to the Gardening page on our website will find over 240 Horticulture Factsheets on diverse topics about gardening. Home gardeners and professionals alike can contact our Horticulture Diagnostic Labs for answers to questions about plants, gardens, landscapes, and lawns. The Labs offer diagnostic services to help explain plant problems and diseases as well as to identify insect and tick specimens. Soil testing for pH and conductivity (soluble salts) is also done on soil samples. The public can phone in questions, or drop off samples and specimens for diagnosis or identification at two locations in Suffolk County: at our offices in Riverhead or at Bayard Cutting Arboretum in Oakdale.
Over the years, the CCE Suffolk Community Horticulture Program has trained over 1,200 Master Gardener Volunteers. Their contributions to community life in Suffolk County include organizing an annual Spring Gardening School of workshops and plant sales for the public; offering a summer Children’s Garden program at Suffolk County Farm; and countless hours of speaking, teaching, and volunteer work in gardens at schools, libraries, parks, and social service agencies around Suffolk County.
For more information about our Horticulture Diagnostic Labs and Community Horticulture Program classes and events, visit our website at www.ccesuffolk.org/gardening.