Grow with Cornell Cooperative Extension

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The redesigned site will enhance the NYS Rt 80 gateway through the north end of Cooperstown. The construction of a garden pavilion will architecturally become the garden’s center piece. The 352 sq. ft. freestanding building, which will serve as a gathering place for program participants and visitors and a work center for garden tasks and storage. Illustration by Anne Wilfer.

CCE launches Grow with Cornell Cooperative Extension

A Campaign for Redesigning Cornell Cooperative Extension’s Grounds
into a Place for Learning through Gardening

Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Schoharie and Otsego Counties has kicked off the first phase of its Grow with Cornell Cooperative Extension fundraising campaign. Contributions to the campaign will be invested in CCE’s Education and Outreach Center at 123 Lake Street, Cooperstown, to redesign the grounds into a hands-on place for garden learning.

Creating demonstration and teaching gardens is a first step in improving the longstanding home of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Cooperstown. The Education and Outreach Center was a gift from The Farmers’ Museum to the Otsego County Farm and Home Bureau and 4-H Club Association, the name CCE was known by in May 1948 when acquired.

The Grow with Cornell Cooperative Extension campaign is an investment in informal learning for county residents, featuring teaching and display gardens and outdoor classroom. It will become an invaluable asset in informing adults and 4-H youth through hands-on learning.

The project calls for improving the 123 Lake Street site by adding necessary infrastructure and improved parking and lighting; creating a rain garden to demonstrate surface water remediation before it leaves the site; a garden pavilion for instruction, preparation, and storage; garden fences, benches, and gateway arbors; hardscape pavers for connection to public walkways and the Education and Outreach Center; and educational signage and places for quiet reflection and active gardening.

On the site, CCE will promote gardening and landscape practices, such as raised beds, composting, low maintenance plants and cultural systems, annual and perennial flowerbeds, vegetable and kitchen gardens, and small fruit demonstration. It will support programming focused on sustainability, the selection of growing systems and plants, and use of reduced-inputs to create productive gardens for the 21 st century gardener.

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The gardens will utilize portions of the sprawling parking lot for teaching and demonstration gardens. Raised- and ground-level beds will be accessible by gardeners of all ages and varying degrees of physical activity.

The Project’s Genesis

Master Gardeners of Otsego County, who are volunteers trained to provide outreach assistance on behalf of the organization, conceived of the project to provide garden-based learning for the community. They value the transformative nature of gardening for youth and adults, for making houses into homes, for healthier life styles and well-being, for satisfying our pioneering spirit for self-sufficiency (particularly apt in the new normal of post-COVID-19), and for providing enjoyable and nutritious fresh fruits and vegetables for the table.

Together with the professional staff and experts from other organizations and professions, CCE has led the project through thoughtful discussions and planning over an extensive planning and review process. Staff and the Board of Directors are fully engaged and invested in the Grow with Cornell Cooperative Extension campaign that ensures long-term value for our communities.

The cost of the undertaking is estimated at $200,000, which will be raised through contributions and grants. The fundraising committee members are Pati Grady, co-chair, and Betsy Sywetz, Master Gardener volunteers; Jason Stone and Bill Woodward, co-chair, and board members; Bob Sutherland, garden advisor; and Don Smyers, Association Executive Director.

Last updated November 10, 2020