COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Schoharie and Otsego Counties has kicked off a first phase of its Grow with Cornell Cooperative Extension fundraising campaign, to redevelop the grounds of its Education and Resource Center at 123 Lake Street in Cooperstown. The grounds will be developed into a hands-on learning center for gardener education utilizing demonstration gardens.
“The site has been the home of Cornell Cooperative Extension since May 1948, when it was gifted by The Farmers’ Museum to further the work of 4-H, agriculture, and family life,” said Don Smyers, Executive Director of CCE and a member of the fundraising committee.
“The site has served residents of Otsego County well,” Smyers added, “but the national trend for purchasing local foods has given a rebirth to producing home-grown foods and an opportunity for CCE to showcase their value.”
“Homeowners want the security of knowing the sources of their foods, and nothing is more local than harvesting from one’s own land, even from a city lot. Unfortunately, we have several generations who have little knowledge or experience in gardening, yet many seek the security of being more self-reliant to produce some of the foods they consume,” he concluded.
Master Gardeners of Otsego County, who are trained to provide outreach assistance on behalf of the organization, conceived of the project to provide garden-based learning for community members. As gardeners, they value the benefits that gardening imparts. Beyond the sweet and tender harvest of fresh, nutritious fruits and vegetables for the family table, gardens can stretch the family budget especially with everyone’s’ summer favorites, like sweet corn, peppers, and tomatoes. For many, gardens offer a healthy lifestyle and safe refuge as COVID-19 continues into the coming year.
The gardens will feature many instructive elements, but one will include demonstration gardens featuring improved, highly-productive vegetable gardens using ground and raised beds, improved vegetable and flower varieties, and new home garden technology. The hard work of gardening can be reduced with easier and more enjoyable practices and with new, improved garden varieties. The gardens on site presently have featured All-America Selections, varieties chosen regionally for beauty or productivity, and the new gardens will include more extensive plantings for home gardeners to evaluate.
“The campaign is a serious undertaking for us,” Smyers explained. “The redevelopment of the site will be completed entirely from contributions and grants.”
The committee is calling upon all residents who value gardens, those with passion for gardening, and parents with children who want their children to learn about the food in their communities to contribute. Contributions can be made on the organization’s secure GoFundMe campaign link from CCE’s main webpage at www.cceschoharie-otsego.org/
Cornell Cooperative Extension is an equal opportunity, affirmative action educator and employer.
–Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Schoharie and Otsego Counties
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