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Garden-based learning & a book boon

April 21, 2009

Last Tuesday was a bountiful day for new books for my garden library, as I came home with two, both at no cost but my own involvement. Who says volunteering doesn’t pay?

Recently I was asked to help review a new site in progress for Cornell Garden Based Learning. It’s a rich reference source for garden educators in New York state, helmed by Marcia Eames-Sheavly, a good friend and colleague of Craig at Ellis Hollow, who has posted frequently about her work. I attended a brown-bag lunch session last fall to find out what garden-based learning was and if it was something I could get into somehow, and met Marcia there along with others from around campus.

The new site provides “professional development support for New York State citizens engaging in mentoring, training, teaching or other forms of educating others about gardening, through regional and state-wide in-services, and nationally through symposia and conferences. We develop activities, projects, publications, and other educational materials, as well as general garden information. All of our materials are free” through the web site. While the new site develops, the official one is still here.

plant-bookIt was fun to put on my web product manager’s hat, look at the site in depth, and give constructive feedback. And, to be honest, I knew there would be a reward for the most comprehensive review: American Horticultural Society Garden Plants and Flowers! It is now in my pile of garden books next to the couch, close at hand to help me learn this Northeast plant palette and other things you can’t grow in the desert. What a nice gift!

pathguideAnd speaking of garden-based learning, last Tuesday was also a docent training session, where we all received a copy of the Cornell Plantations Path Guide. It’s 160 pages of delicious local detail, which will be invaluable in learning the specific characteristics of the gardens and natural areas surrounding this campus.
A quote in the introduction from Liberty Hyde Bailey echoes my own feeling about being in Plantations and wandering the hills around our home. For the blessings of being in this place and these two new books to treasure, I’m very grateful.

The sweep of the landscape has been a factor in the making of Cornell University. Fascination of the fauna and flora has stimulated collecting and investigation. Beauty and majesty of the environment have sustained teachers and students. Ample farming operations have brought the landscape home. An out-of-door spirit has pervaded the institution.

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