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Extension to expand Horticulture Education

Posted 6 December 2013 at 12:00 am

Trolley Building could be transformed into Culinary Institute

Press release, Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension

KNOWLESVILLE – Horticulture in Orleans County is expanding into new horizons.

On Nov. 21, the Orleans County Cornell Cooperative Extension Board of Directors voted in favor of transitioning its current part-time Horticulture Educator position to a full-time Garden-to-Table Educator. This new role will link horticulture with food and nutrition education to better serve the needs of Orleans County residents.

The Garden-to-Table Educator will provide daily support to the Master Gardener program and will advocate for garden-based learning and garden-to-table programs to further horticulture education in OCCCE youth and family programming. OCCCE’s non-profit and government agency partners, such as those in the county health department, see tremendous need for emphasizing backyard gardening and linking it with food choices to help community members lead healthier, better lives.

Growing your own food is a natural link with food preservation and the culinary arts, and it emphasizes horticulture’s important role in our community. As one board member stated, “I really look forward to more education on food preparation and preservation coming from the new Garden-to-Table Educator position. I think it will help address issues of rural poverty as well as childhood obesity and nutrition.”

The transition to a Garden-to-Table Educator coincides with OCCCE’s efforts to revitalize the Trolley Building at the 4-H Fairgrounds, which currently houses a large kitchen with a 50’ x 70’ event space.

In January 2014, community members will meet to establish a vision for the Trolley Building to guide renovation efforts, and ideas of hosting a Culinary Institute within the building with a sizeable teaching kitchen have been proposed.

The OCCCE Board of Directors wants the space to meet community needs and be available for use by other agencies to host educational workshops and events. OCCCE’s focus on agriculture, horticulture, and youth development naturally extends to food science and the culinary arts, and county community members are excited about the potential benefits of such a facility.

OCCCE is actively pursuing grant funds for horticulture education, and the Garden-to-Table Educator position provides a wide-range of grant options. Recently, a proposal requesting about $60,000 was submitted to The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation in Washington, DC, to conduct The Well-Stocked Pantry Project.

This project is designed to provide families with a “how-to” guide for starting a garden and incorporating its tending; along with cooking, preserving, and enjoying its bounty; into their daily lives for learning, enrichment, and enjoyment.

Gardening with children can yield strong families, improve nutrition, combat obesity, and promote lifelong learning. If funded, this project could bring national attention to Orleans County horticulture and make a significant, positive impact.

OCCCE is currently seeking applications for the Garden-to-Table position now through Jan. 15, 2014. For details, see the OCCCE website by clicking here.