Archive for the “Project Ideas” Category
One third of our food supply depends on pollination. While bats, butterflies, hummingbirds, and wind are all common pollinators, bees are responsible for doing most of this critical work. In 2006, news regarding colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon that leads to the decline of bee populations, began to spread. Millions of dollars have been spent to determine the cause of the disorder, and beekeepers and beekeeping programs alike have multiplied to raise awareness about these significant pollinators and to encourage others to consider beekeeping. It is important that we teach students of any age about the importance of pollinators through activities such as beekeeping and planting native flower gardens.
(image courtesy of WholeSystemsDesign.com)
There has been a rise in popularity for beekeeping, including beekeeping in school gardens. In part the increase has been a response to colony collapse disorder, yet also an interest in learning more about the intelligent behaviors of this insect. Beekeeping can be integrated into the school curriculum in a variety of subjects. The obvious link is biology, but also students may study the origin of honeybees in a history or geography class, or perhaps a lesson on sugars with a look into how honey is made and comparing flavors of different local honeys. Math is another neat link, studying the geometrical shapes of honeycomb. Not only can beekeeping provide learning opportunities, then, but it can also teach students about stewardship, respect, and responsibility. The website www.pollinators.org provides a variety of pollinator curricula, games, and tips for implementing projects
Of course bees can be dangerous. Bee stings are uncomfortable and very serious to anyone who is allergic. As with most things on school grounds, take precautions to minimize possible risks; we suggest consulting an experienced beekeeper prior to planning to keep bees in schools, place the hive so that it is not accessible to children without supervision (many schools put them on a roof or behind a fence in a side yard), and always have a beekeeper present at the hive when students are watching it.
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A 4-H club in Erie County, “The Ladybugs,” recently videotaped the process of a bonsai tree project they completed. The Erie County 4-H Staff graciously shared the video with us. Enjoy!
This slideshowpersonalized with Smilebox
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Request for Proposals to Create County-based Ecologically-Designed Demonstration Gardens
Cornell Garden-based Learning (CGBL) is requesting mini-proposals from county-based Cornell Cooperative Extension programs to establish demonstration gardens in their county utilizing innovative methods of ecological design that may include but is not limited to permaculture, beneficial insects, soil building techniques or rain gardens.
Availability: Grants will only be awarded to CCE county-based programs in or partnering with community horticulture or youth development.
Funding: Applicants must be a CCE county-based office/program and can be (but is not required to be) submitted in collaboration with another county garden project/organization. CGBL will support six gardens, two at $400, and four at $250. Funding may be used for any and all necessary supplies including: plant materials, garden supplies, fencing, raised beds materials and signage. Funding may be used for, but is not limited to, expanding a 2013 Vegetable Variety for Gardeners (VVfG) Trial Garden project.
How will funds be distributed? County programs will purchase supplies, and provide CGBL receipts for reimbursement. Note: Receipts must be submitted with proper paperwork within one year from the date the grant is awarded.
Application deadline and more details >> Be sure to download the FULL PDF here: Small is Beautiful_Final
Question – Contact Liz Falk firstname.lastname@example.org
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For the second year, we will be planting the Vegetable Variety Demo Garden (VVdG) again here on the Cornell campus and would like to collaborate with CCE offices New York statewide to install a VVdG in your county.
Some of the same elements from 2012 will be repeated including vegetable varieties and components of ecological gardening (cover crops, companion planting, and mulching). This year we will also be adding perennial plants to the garden, a compost bin and – in keeping with the 2013 Horticulture theme – multiple types of plants for attracting beneficial insects. As always with VVT, we will encourage others to rate varieties by using the website at http://vegvariety.cce.cornell.edu.
To Participate: Read more about the trial and how to take part on our web site here: http://blogs.cornell.edu/garden/vegetablevarietytrial/
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This just in… Check out this Eco-Schools program from the National Wildlife Federation. The Eco-Schools program strives to model environmentally sound practices, provide support for greening the curriculum and enhance science and academic achievement. Additionally, it works to foster a greater sense of environmental stewardship among youth. Eco-Schools is currently being implemented in more than 50 countries around the world.
Through school-based action teams of students, administrators, educators and community volunteers, Eco-Schools combines effective “green” management of the school grounds, facilities and the curriculum.
Once a school has registered and implemented the seven steps, it can apply for an Eco-Schools award. There are three levels of the award system. The first two levels are the Bronze and Silver awards which are self-assessed. The top level is the Green Flag award, which must be assessed by an Eco-Schools USA assessor and renewed every two years. A school is considered to be a permanent Eco-School once it has gained its fourth Green Flag.
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North Country Jr. Iron Chef registration is OPEN – and both the middle and high school divisions are more than half full!
On December 1st schools/organizations can register more than one team per division.
Visit the event website at http://ncjrironchef.org/ to learn more or register a team.
More about the event… NC Jr. Iron Chef is a competition for teams of middle and high school students from Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties, NY. The challenge is to develop healthy recipes, using a combination of local and commodity foods, that could be prepared in a school cafeteria. On competition day each team will prepare their recipe and present it to a panel of distinguished judges who will choose the winners! North Country Jr. Iron Chef… offers a positive, hands-on experience with healthy food for youth, shown to increase the likelihood that students will select and consume these foods; provides an opportunity to learn about and build lifelong skills related to healthy food purchasing and preparation; is a creative approach to addressing school food issues and engaging youth in the dialogue; & promotes the incorporation of local foods into school menus. North Country Jr. Iron Chef will be held on March 9, 2013 and is a project of the Health Initiative, in partnership with St. Lawrence University. Learn more at http://ncjrironchef.org/.
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It’s not too late to start a cover crop beneath veggies that are nearing harvest or have already passed it! The earlier you start your cover crop, the more it will grow and add to the quality and fertility of your soil, but many of you still have a bit of time if you act fast! Use this two-page fact-sheet our friends at the Garden Ecology Project made to select a good cover crop for your urban garden, and learn how and when to plant it.
Plus: Cover crops are easy to plant with youth, as they aren’t too particular – simply broadcast the seeds on bare soil, ensure they get watered or rained on and watch them grow. At this time of year if you’re cover cropping a small space it could help to cover the broadcasted seeds with a sheet or plastic to give them a little more heat on the cold Autumn nights until they generate and grow a little. Have fun!
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Healthy soil is key to a healthy and productive garden. When soil is healthy it becomes home to worms, pill bugs, centipedes, bacteria, mycelia and many more beneficial macro and micro organisms. Healthy soil retains just the right amount of water so roots of the plant can soak it up but not get too moldy. Healthy soil also provides just enough support for roots to take a foot hold and grow big and tall. Whether you’re starting a garden new or have been gardening in the same place for years, maintaining healthy soil takes some time, energy and knowledge.
In the recent New York Times article about renown farmer Eliot Coleman, Coleman explains that the first thing he did after acquiring his farm land and building shelter was start building his soil. He used seaweed, horse manure, hay and compost. Land that started with 3-inches of topsoil now has over a foot of “black gold” that support intensive vegetable cultivation. Coleman is known for growing gorgeous produce all year-round in Maine.
Learning to compost productively will prove to be just as important for your gardens success as watering, sun exposure, and spacing between plants. Youth can be a great help with compost bin building and taking temperature and moisture recordings of the compost as its breaking down. You can find some compost resources through our web site and feel free to contact us if you have questions.
Another great way to build soil, and a method often overlooked in the home garden, is cover crops. Cover crops help to retain the soil, lessen erosion, and decrease the impact of precipitation on the garden by slowing the runoff of water. They also reduce mineral leaching and compaction, and suppress perennial and winter annual weed growth. The top growth adds organic matter when it is tilled into the garden soil. The cover crop’s root system also provides organic matter and opens passageways that help improve air and water movement in the soil.
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Marcia Eames-Sheavly’s Art of Horticulture class has built two sod sofas in Cornell’s Ag Quad. See photos and a video of the process. Check out our Living Sculpture activities and resources for how-to information and inspiration for your garden program.
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Gardening at school is a key component of many Farm to School programs. Utilize garden-based learning activities to connect children and youth to local food, farmers, and nutrition education.
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