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CUCE-NYC present at urban farming symposium

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CUCE-NYC associate Philson A.A. Warner, left, speaks to a guest at the Grow: Urban Garden Symposium in NYC, Oct. 14.

CUCE-NYC associate Philson A.A. Warner, left, speaks to a guest at the Grow: Urban Garden Symposium in NYC, Oct. 14.

From the Cornell Chronicle:

There is more to urban agriculture than just food production. Urban farming introduces communities, children and adults to the value of green spaces in a city such as New York and allows for the creation of an educational environment where children can come and learn the sciences in an engaging way, according Zach Pickens, an urban farmer at New York City-based Riverpark Farm.

Pickens was one of four panelists talking about “Advanced Urban Farming Techniques” Oct. 14 during the Grow: Urban Garden Symposium in New York City. Also speaking was Cornell University Cooperative Extension-NYC (CUCE-NYC) associate Philson A.A. Warner, who spoke at an advanced urban farming techniques panel. Warner, the founding director of CUCE-NYC’s Hydroponics, Aquaculture, Aquaponics Learning Lab, addressed an audience of about 250 when he described ways to get his pioneering technologies into classrooms across the city.

“We need more experiential learning in classrooms, and we need to engage youngsters in real-time with real technology,” Warner said.

The urban garden symposium was organized by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s office – in collaboration with CUCE-NYC, Randall’s Island Park Alliance and the American Museum of Natural History, which also served as the venue for the event. Its purpose was to identify resources for people wanting to start an urban garden or to take their existing gardens to the next level. Said Brewer: “If we can do something right in our neighborhoods then we can do so much good for everyone.”

“It is wonderful to co-sponsor an event that brings together so many New York City residents who are passionate about urban gardening,” said Jennifer Tiffany, CUCE-NYC executive director. “The participants in this symposium show the powerful connections between ‘growing food’ and ‘growing people.’” The symposium kicked off with the “Urban Gardening 101: Where To Start?” panel moderated by Cornell Small Farm Program Director Anu Rangarajan, who questioned the panelists about the key things they did to be successful at urban gardening, the biggest lessons learned, and surprises or benefits they noticed to urban farming.

“We are all about pathways,” Rangarajan said. “We want to support people so that they can get into agriculture and urban gardening.”

“Community gardens registered with New York City Parks GreenThumb have access to soil, resources and connections to organizations such as Cornell Cooperative Extension,” Kenneth Williams, Manhattan outreach coordinator at GreenThumb, told the audience. Some of the biggest lessons Williams said he learned after urban gardening were that it was important to assess the assets in a community and have enough support from other partner organizations and politicians to ensure ongoing preservation.

Addressing a question from an audience member about challenges associated with implementing hydroponics and aquaponics in schools, Cornell scientist Warner said that the learning curve was the biggest drawback. “We at Cornell changed our strategies because we trained teachers in the science department in schools and we went from the community aspect to teaching young people how to producer cleaner, safer food using hydroponics,” he said. Warner also demonstrated his hydroponics technology at the urban garden fair during the symposium using his mini-hydroponics unit. Participants met with exhibitors like Warner and watched live demonstrations.

“Promoting healthy human development and building strong secure food systems are key objectives of Cornell University's research, teaching and outreach programs and of Cornell University Cooperative Extension's work in the city and statewide,” Tiffany said. “Part of our mission is to bridge Cornell research on urban gardening and urban agriculture with the New York City community programs highlighted today. We hope to continue to partner with Gale Brewer and her staff on the work launched with the GROW report on urban gardening and with today's symposium.”

 

Cornell staff advise NYC urban farmers at symposium - Cornell Chronicle

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CUCE-NYC’s urban farming efforts on NPR

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Land grant schools, like Cornell for New York State, provide support to urban farmers when they need such things as soil tests or information about pest control - support that they can't find elsewhere. A recent article on npr.org explains the importance of urban research farms to address the particular challenges faced by urban farmers, such as crop nutrient density and optimizing small growing spaces.

Jennifer Tiffany

Jennifer Tiffany

The BCTR's Jennifer Tiffany, who is director of Cornell Cooperative Extension - NYC, is quoted in the post:

In New York City, for example, Cornell University's Cooperative Extension has one staff member for every 160,000 residents and tries to "make sure that all New York residents benefit from Cornell's research," says Jennifer Tiffany, executive director of the college's city-based outreach.

In New York, the Cornell extension office works alongside dozens of other organizations that add to its work by writing prescriptions for fruits and vegetables that can then be used at nearby farmers markets. Instead of visiting individual farms to offer growers advice, as staff might in a rural setting, Tiffany says her program leads instructional tours that take almost 100 people through an indoor hydroponics facility, showing them just how many calories of food can be grown inside the city buildings.

 

Urban farmers say it's time they got their own research farms - NPR

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