Archive for the “Decision-making” Category
According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, more than half of adult New Yorkers are overweight. The recently launched “Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program” (FVRx) attempts to combat this startling statistic by allowing doctors to prescribe “Health Bucks” to patients suffering from or at risk of obesity or other diet-related illnesses. These Health Bucks are redeemable for produce at the 138 local farmers markets within the city boundaries.
Patients enrolled in the program receive a monthly prescription of $1/day in Health Bucks for each family member, and they meet with their healthcare providers on a monthly basis for health assessments, prescription renewals, and to set goals based on their progress. Participants also receive nutritional counseling and tips on how to best cook and economize.
FVRx has already proven effective at improving community health in other cities in Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and California since 2011.
The first 38% of participants in the program in those states dropped their Body Mass Indices, and in the second year the percentage increased to 39% of participants who lowered their Body Mass Indices. Furthermore, the program has been shown to improve patient health and food literacy, to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and to boost revenue at farmers markets.
Interested in engaging with your food system and the community around you? Check out our Discovering our Food System and Vegetable Varieties Investigation projects to learn how you can dig in.
For more about the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription program, check out:
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A recent study, the “Impact of Garden-Based Learning on Academic Outcomes in Schools: Synthesis of Research between 1990 and 2010,” published in the Review of Educational Research in February 2013, determined that garden-based learning had positive impacts on student’s grades, knowledge, attitudes and behavior. The study reviewed 152 articles regarding the effects of garden-based learning and ultimately decided to include 48 studies in a final synthesis.
Results of this study’s review showed a multitude of positive impacts on both direct and indirect academic outcomes. Of the 40 studies assessing direct learning outcomes, 83% found positive effects. Science had the highest proportion of positive effects, followed by math with language arts. Positive outcomes were often attributed to “direct, hands-on experiences that made classroom learning relevant.” In regards to indirect academic outcomes, 80% of studies were positive; social development surfaced most frequently and positively.
Although results of the study were consistent across programs, student samples, and school types, the study calls for increased research rigor in order to systematically understand the academic learning incomes related to garden-based learning.
Interested in exploring how our garden-based curricula can be integrated into your school, family or community gardens? Our lessons, projects, and publications offer a variety of activities, projects, and curriculum guides that can help get you started.
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A Cornell University study published in a special issue of Developmental Psychology (Vol. 49:3) reveals that “children are natural scientists” who can “gather and assess evidence from the world around them.”
The study, lead by Tamar Kushnir, the Evalyn Edwards Milman Assistant Professor of Child Development and the director of the Cornell College of Human Ecology’s Early Childhood Cognition Laboratory, shows that preschooler’s can “infer what a person might know from watching what they do…and they can then use this [information] to choose whom to learn from.”
Researchers found that three to four-year olds’ understanding of cause and effect is influenced by information from other people, and that they can discern good sources of information from bad. Three to four-year olds, the study finds, are not entirely credulous.
Want to teach and cultivate the next generation of “natural scientists?” Cornell Garden-Based Learning offers a variety of multi-disciplinary activities which target knowledge and skill-building in the garden. Seed to Salad emphasizes decision-making and a multi-disciplinary approach while youth grow salad gardens. Dig Art! Cultivating Creativity in the Garden integrates gardening with the arts and ecological literacy. Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners (VVfG) and Vegetable Varieties Investigation (VVi) utilizes a citizen science approach to teach middle and high school aged youth about preserving biodiversity and connecting with the community.
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It can be a challenge to meaningfully integrate gardening and learning. We really like the way Angela McGregor Hedstrom uses essential questions to expand on the gardening experience, and organize the big ideas, particularly with our youngest audiences.
Read this succinct and well-written article, and get started soon!
Angela McGregor Hedstrom taught at the Dryden Elementary School and Happy Way Childcare Center, Dryden, NY, while working with Cornell Garden-Based Learning.
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Stump Culture photo from Canadian Xmas Tree Assoc (click for website)
Many gardening and horticulture pursuits are on pause for the dormant season this winter, but many homeowners affect their surrounding landscapes with a traditional purchase for inside the home: the Christmas tree. Approximately 25 to 30 million trees are sold each year in the United States, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. Consumer demand for trees makes for a large impact, with over 350, 000 US acres currently in Christmas tree production.
Christmas tree farming has a mixed environmental impact. The trees, which take anywhere from 4 to 20 years to mature, provide wildlife habitat and hold soil and water as compared to annual field crops. Some farms have to use pesticides to deal with pest problems and have to mow frequently to keep grasses down. (see NC State Extension for more information on environmental impacts). And at the end a stands life-cycle, the ground has to be plowed and re-planted from imported seedlings.
Even still, purchasing a real tree is arguably much better for the environment when compared to the impact of purchasing a fake tree, not in terms of environment, but also in the economic benefits of supporting local tree farmers.
One environmentally-friendly method that has a growing interest among tree growers is called “stump culture”, where trees are cut in such a way that they can re-sprout and grow another tree. This cycle can be continued for many years. Here is video about Pieropan Christmas Tree Farm in Western Massachusetts, where trees planted over 50 years ago are still producing healthy trees from the same stump! (here is another video, if you want to hear a song about this process!)
Finally, what about our environmental impact when the holiday season comes to a close? There are several options to consider. One is to purchase a balled-in-burlap tree, which can then be planted in your backyard. If you have purchased a cut tree, you can check with you local cooperative extension office to find out where you can recycle your tree. Or, consider composting the tree yourself at home. You can cut up the tree into small pieces and integrate into your current compost pile. Happy Holidays!
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Classic Cornell Extension Manual on Nut Cultivation (Click for PDF download)
The New York Times has been putting out some great articles lately, including a recent one about the American Chestnut and one highlighting growing interest in Agroforestry practices, which combines gardening and farming with the cultivation of tree crops. The main benefits of trees in the landscape are the preservation of soil and water, the sequestering of carbon, and support of a greater diversity of wildlife. Once we plant and establish these trees, we can also enjoy the long term benefits of harvesting a nutritious crop each season with less work.
I recently finished an amazing book by Susan Freinkel called “American Chestnut: The Life, Death and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree,” which not only tells the story of the mass spread of the blight, which wiped out 3 to 4 billion trees in the early decades of the 1900s, but also examines the human responses to large scale ecosystem disturbance, from efforts to stop the spread of the fungus to the scores of devoted Americans who have worked for decades to back-breed a cross of the American and Chinese chestnut to improve blight resistance, and effort led largely by the American Chestnut Foundation.
Dr. William Murrill, a mycologist from Cornell University, discovered the life cycle of the fungus Cryphonectria parasitica or the chestnut blight.
This story gives reason for pause as New Yorkers look ahead to several forest threats coming down the line, including the Emerald Ash Borer, which Cooperative Extension is actively educating the public about with some excellent EAB resources at the NY Invasive Species Clearinghouse. Efforts to monitor the spread of this and other potential problem pests, and efforts to slow the spread through firewood restrictions are important.
One lesson we can learn from the history of American Chestnut is that even the most intense pest invasions cannot be cause for panic. Around the 1920s hope had largely been lost on controlling the spread of the disease, and it was actually US Forest Service policy to encourage that ALL chestnuts be cut down, dead or alive. This had the effect of removing any possible trees that had natural blight resistance, which could have been used to speed up current efforts to reintroduce the tree to the forest.
This stresses the importance of continuing to manage local forests for overall health while keeping a keen eye on the movement of the Emerald Ash Borer.
Map of EAB discoveries & quarantine zones in NY
There are likely healthy and genetically superior ash trees that will demonstrate resistance to infestation. The EAB is in NewConsult your local extension office at the following resources for more information:
CCE ForestConnect Publication: Silviculture and Invasive Insects
CCE Factsheet: Private Woodland Management in Anticipation of Emerald Ash Borer (2007)
Forest Management with Emerald Ash Borer – 2006 Ohio State University Extension
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We are happy to announce the latest addition to our curriculum resources: Discovering Our Food System (DFS), newly revised and updated for 2011!
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The CITY project employs young people in green jobs, including work on community gardens, recycling, composting, environmentally-friendly construction and neighborhood clean-ups. CITY teen leaders are gearing up for another exciting summer of leadership.
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Wicked Delicate Garden Contest is a challenge for student groups across the U.S.–kindergarten through graduate–to grow food in surprising places. “We want to see lettuce growing in the arms of statues and carrots sprouting out of cowboy boots. Help us prove that you really can grow food anywhere!”
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Seed to Salad is an adaptable program that engages elementary school students or after school program participants in growing salad gardens of their own. Emphasizing a high level of youth decision-making and an interdisciplinary approach, Seed to Salad requires minimal garden space and offers a school-year friendly time line for planning, planting, harvesting, and celebrating.
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