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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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>

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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.

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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”.

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JOIN the NYS Garden Educator Network E-List!
Cornell Garden-Based Learning has just launched a new E-List for New York State garden educators, teachers who work with school gardens, volunteers, and anybody who engages in (or wants to) gardening programs with youth or adults.

We heard from garden educators statewide that there is a desire for a way to connect with folks doing similar work. While our Take Root! program has enabled more personal networking, online relationships are building through our online courses and our ever-increasing number of webinars. Our goal for this E-List is to help garden educators share successes, challenges, and resources, to publicize garden-related events occurring in NYS or that would be interesting to NYS garden educators. We hope the list can become a forum for asking questions and having worthwhile discussions to help strengthen all of the good work we do.

We are aware there are several garden-related listserves already in NYS and nationwide. Our intention is that this list is a complement to those in that it is not for a specific region/county of the state and that it is for folks involved in garden education, not just how to garden specifics.

TO JOIN the E-LIST – (Do NOT leave a comment below. This does not subscribe you)
1. Send an email message to
2. In the Subject of your message, type the single word: join.  Leave the body of the message blank.

* Once a member, to write to the entire list: Send a message to

Please note these general guidelines when writing to the list:
- Customize your Subject Line when posting new messages. Mention location if applicable.
- Do NOT post attachments. Include a link to the info. when possible rather than pasting in the email body.
- The list is set to default your reply only to the sender, not the entire list. You can choose to reply to both as appropriate.

We look forward to collaborating with you!  Please share this announcement widely…

Questions, Ideas, or Concerns?    Email Liz Falk at

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We’re pleased to announce the second year of the Small is Beautiful mini-’grant’ program. The program is part of on-going Cornell Garden-based Learning effort to foster ecological practices, to encourage county collaborations and to meaningfully engage youth. Small is Beautiful offers counties the opportunity for proposal writing and program development on a manageable scale.

Sharing Circle at the Essex County Garden Project

Sharing Circle at the Essex County Garden Project

Grants are awarded to Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) county-based programs that foster ecological practices, encourage county collaborations and meaningfully engage youth.

Proposals are due March 15th. Funding of $250- $400 is available per grantee. For more information and how to apply please visit:

Additionally – stay tuned to this blog and our newsletter. We’ll be offering a short webinar open to the public on Writing a Strong Grant Proposal.

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Just in case you’re not on our newsletter mailing list, here’s a snapshot of our most recent newsletter. Subscribe today to stay up to date!

The garden is hibernating. The black-caps, nuthatches and gold finches are raiding your feeders. Perhaps you’re cozy by a wood stove. Winter is the ideal time to slow down, to reflect, learn and plan for the coming spring. Cornell Garden-based Learning offers multiple opportunities to deepen your knowledge and keep you inspired.

The 2014 Vegetable Variety Trial (VVT) called on you to design raised garden beds for this years state-wide trial. We received multiple designs and now it’s time to choose your favorite.  You can view the Design Challenge photo album on Facebook. We’ll be announcing the final designs momentarily. Stay tuned…!

Read on to learn more about our current offerings, and to continue to explore what we have to offer, visit our website and like us on Facebook.

Host a Garden Educators Training

TakeRootFor the 3rd year, CGBL is pleased to offer Take Root! A Training for Garden Educators to NYS educators and youth workers who are interested in, or already implement, garden-based learning.  We are seeking host sites (CCE office, NGO, or similar) to partner with. Together we develop a training that most suits your constituents needs. You promote the program and we come lead it.



Horticulture Distance Learning Courses

berriesLooking for winter inspiration? These hands-on, online courses are for gardeners and professionals.
Organic Gardening – Starts 2/24
Permaculture Design – Starts 3/3

All courses are 6-9 weeks, $600/course unless noted. Courses tend to fill quickly. Registration online via the course web site.


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