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Is your New York community engaging in or interested in learning more about urban forestry education or planning? Are you connected with the New York State Urban Forestry Council?


The council is a volunteer group, organized formally in 1999, to advise and assist the NYS Department of Conservation (DEC) in executing its Urban and Community Forestry policies. Get connected with them through their TAKING ROOT blog and monthly online newsletter which has featured reports on NYC Clones and Replants Historic Trees and Cornell Urban Hort Institute: Interesting Research Continues Apace. If there are urban forestry related efforts in your community you want to feature contact editor Michelle Sutton (


May is an optimistic month for NYS vegetable gardeners. We might be fortunate enough to be harvesting some cool season crops while we hope the last frost has come so we might sneak a few more growing days for our warm season crops.

Moreover, there are nurseries and local plant sale overflowing with inspiring possibilities for vegetable plantings. Here are a few resources to help you navigate possibilities:

The 2014 edition of Selected List of Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners in New York State.

Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners has detailed descriptions for more than 6,100 varieties. You can read ratings and reviews by fellow gardeners.

And for those who think they have seen it all check out: Gardeners’ Gems: Designer Crops That Will Wow The Neighbors.


Exciting news!

The Western New York Maple Producers Association and NYS Agriculture in the Classroom is proud to present their new maple syrup production lessons for use in your classroom. Integrate the ideas and concepts of maple syrup production in the context of social studies, mathematics, ELA, and science.

Through this curriculum, your students will be learning essential elements of an important New York State agricultural product, while simultaneously engaging in and practicing the necessary classroom instruction skills. Agriculture is innately hands-on, and the activities featured will help your students develop their critical thinking skills while tasting, smelling, observing, and touching. The experiments have easy set ups with materials you already have on hand, there are ready-made smart board lessons, and an informational video that will capture your students attention.

The materials have been developed targeted for 2nd grade, but please feel free to alter sugar 1402the lessons and activities to meet your classroom’s needs.

Last year, here in Cornell Garden-Based Learning, we grew a plethora of gourds for harvest for gourd craft.

Frankly, we can’t get enough of them — they are beautiful, interesting to work with, there are diverse varieties, and you can get fantastic results, such as the bowls you can see in this Hort 2010: Art of Horticulture class pic. Gorgeous gourds 4901 (2)

So you can understand how at first, we were alarmed when we heard from the farm manager that he was ready to plow ours under, and then stopped him when we realized his thinking: many people don’t realize that the unslightly appearance of the gourds as they slowly dry down is a natural process.  Many people have told us — “Oh gourds for art, tried to grow those, but they rotted.”  Breaks our hearts, to think of those beauties hitting the compost pile.

Gourd single_resizedOur observations are that the darker and nastier the mold, the more interesting the patterns will be on the gourds later.

If you’re getting into the garden, and finding some rotty looking gourds from last year, hold off, set them aside, and watch to see what happens.  You may find that your patience will reward you!

What to do when you have some interesting gourds that have fully dried down?  Check out Dig Art! Cultivating Creativity in the Garden.  You’ll find some great instructions for making gourd craft of your own.

gourd group shot_resized

ROOTED is a living community art installation that celebrates the diversity of ways people on campus stay rooted in their lives and in the community. Student and faculty volunteers planted 13,000 flower bulbs in 350 pots and moved them to Libe Slope below McGraw clock tower to spell the word, “ROOTED,” in 10-foot-tall letters.

The project was spearheaded by student artist Justin Kondrat and faculty adviser Marcia Eames-Sheavly.

American Horticultural Society (AHS) has recognized Senior Extension Associate and Senior Lecturer Marcia Eames-Sheavly as a recipient of the Society’s Teaching Award as part of its 2014 Great American Gardeners Awards.

AHS cited Eames-Sheavly’s coordination of landscape art projects such as sod couches, sod statues and a bulb labyrinth. She also developed the course Experiential Garden-Based Learning in Belize, in which she and a group of students travel to Belize to work with an elementary school and non-profit organization and The Art of Horticulture. A regular participant in the AHS’s annual National Children & Youth Garden Symposium, Eames-Sheavly was a keynote speaker at last year’s event in Denver, Colorado.

While we sit wrapped in winter clothes looking out the window for any sign of spring, here is some food for thought.

2014 is shaping up to be one of the warmest years on record globally.Criag Cramer Eranthis The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that January 2014 was the 4th warmest years on record. Alaska is 15 degree Fahrenheit above normal. There is extreme drought in western U.S while also record highs are in Europe and Australia.

So what is up with this long cold winter we are experience in NY?

Cornell’s Dr. Charles H. Greene published an article in December 2012 issue of Scientific American that offers a hauntingly foreshadowing.  Another Cornell climate change research Dr. David Wolfe summarizes…

The basic idea is that arctic ice melting is messing with the polar vortex and our jet stream patterns in such a way that we could get longer and more extreme cold periods in this particular part of the world even as the planet overall is getting warmer.

Gardeners let us make this the year to increase our recording of observation in our gardens. We going to need all the information we can collectively gather to meet the challenges associated with gardening in our changing world.  For more information see:

Cornell’s Climate Change website

By Lori Brewer

By Ted Boscia, re-posted from Cornell News blog

children in garden

A new study reports that children in schools with vegetable gardens got 10 minutes more of exercise than before their schools had gardens.

To get schoolchildren moving, uproot them from classrooms into school gardens, concludes a two-year Cornell study of 12 elementary schools in five New York regions.

By experiment’s end, kids at schools with gardens were moderately physically active at school for 10 more minutes a week than before their schools had gardens. That was an increase of four times what peers experienced at gardenless schools. What’s more, children who gardened at school were substantially less sedentary at home and elsewhere than their counterparts.

With nearly one in three American children overweight or obese, school gardens could be a simple, low-cost way to get kids more active, said environmental psychologist Nancy Wells, associate professor of design and environmental analysis in Cornell’s College of Human Ecology.

Read the full post>

Introduction to Garden Design

March 31 to May 17, 2014.
Cost: $600.garden_designx300
Enrollment limited to 12 students.

About the course

  • Learn garden site analysis and apply the concepts to your personal space.
  • Gain proficiency in basic garden design principals.
  • Articulate your personal aesthetic — what appeals to you, and what you enjoy.
  • Lay out a rough site plan overview of your garden design.

You’ll do all that and more if you take this 6-week online course (plus the introduction days), which provides an opportunity for you to design your own garden. You will be studying and experimenting with the basic design procedures, learning about proper plant selection, and you will write and reflect on the process as you learn. The instructor will take an active role in this creative endeavor by providing feedback on your assignments and journal entries. You will also have the opportunity to learn from one another through an open forum in which you can share your ideas with others.

This course is designed to encourage your discovery of basic garden design techniques. It is a garden design course for the beginner. We teach an approach to gardening that is based on the principle of right plant, right place. In other words, we will consider the needs of the plant in addition to the needs of the gardener.

Course schedule:

  • Introduction Days: Welcome & Introductions
  • Week 1: Site Assessment Part 1
  • Week 2: Site Assessment Part 2 / Basic Design Principles: Personal Style, Garden Unity, and Maintenance
  • Week 3: Basic Design Principles: Scale & Proportion, Balance & Symmetry, Repetition, Movement
  • Week 4: Basic Design Principles: Color, Form & Texture
  • Week 5: Designing Your Garden: Choosing & Buying Plants
  • Week 6: Designing Your Garden: Final Project and Buying Plants

More information/registration.

Cornell Garden-based Learning is hosting a short webinar session on: Writing a short proposal for funding.

Though the webinar may be helpful for anybody new to proposal writing, it is designed to assist those people planning to submit a Small is Beautiful proposal, which are due March 15th.

Webinar Details:
Date: Friday, March 7, 2014
Time: 2:00 pm, Eastern Standard Time (New York, GMT-05:00)
Meeting Number: 647 716 778
Meeting Password: (This meeting does not require a password.)

To join the online meeting (Now from mobile devices!)
1. Go to
2. If requested, enter your name and email address.
3. If a password is required, enter the meeting password: (This meeting does not require a password.)
4. Click “Join”.