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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 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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CUCE-NYC partnering to expand urban farming in Manhattan

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Philson Warner and Christa Torres demonstrate Cornell’s mobile hydroponics unit.

Philson Warner and Christa Torres demonstrate Cornell’s mobile hydroponics unit.

Cornell Cooperative Extension-New York City (CUCE-NYC), a leader in farming programs in the city, will join with Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer to expand urban agriculture projects in city schools, public housing facilities, and senior centers. The borough will dedicate up to $1 million to such projects in the coming year.

BCTR director of outreach and community engagement Jennifer Tiffany also serves as CUCE-NYC executive director. She described a partnership between Cornell and Manhattan’s Food and Finance High School (FFHS) as a model for urban farming programs that support youth development and STEM education.

Our school-based hydroponics and aquaponics programs will play a key role in the expansion of urban agriculture envisioned by borough President Brewer. We already engage hundreds of New York City youth each year in experiential learning about science and entrepreneurship while supplying schools and local communities with high-quality produce – many varieties of lettuce, herbs and Chinese cabbage – as well as fresh fish.

At the recent press conference announcing the borough's urban farming plans, Brewer also released a report, How Our Gardens Grow: Strategies for Expanding Urban Agriculture, the result of nearly 6 months of surveys, interviews, and site visits with administrators of urban farms in Manhattan. The event also featured a demonstration of a mobile hydroponic farming unit by Philson Warner, CUCE-NYC extension associate, and Christa Torres, a junior at FFHS. A Hydroponic Learning Model, developed by Warner, teaches students through experience.

Additionally, Brewer and CUCE-NYC will hold an Urban Farming Symposium this fall to bring together city farmers and Cornell experts.


Cornell seeds urban farming in the Big Apple - Cornell Chronicle


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Webinar on “Delivering Extension Programs to the City” now online

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news-tiffany2-inpostJennifer Tiffany, executive director of Cornell University Cooperative Extension's NYC (CUCE-NYC') programs and the BCTR's director of outreach and community engagement presented a webinar on urban extension as part of the Smith-Lever Centennial Webinar Series sponsored by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). The April 7th webinar, Delivering Extension Programs to the City, discussed CUCE-NYC's programs and program strategies as a case study. The webinar is now available online here.

Over 80% of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, making effective urban extension programs an essential element of cooperative extension’s work. New and innovative programs that benefit city dwellers also benefit cooperative extension as a system by engaging highly diverse urban residents as staff members, collaborators, and program participants, and by creating opportunities for community-informed research and innovation.

Eighty-five individuals and groups from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii joined the presentation, along with attendees on site at NIFA's offices in Washington, DC. The webinar was organized by NIFA program leader Marty Draper and hosted by NIFA program specialist Ahlishia Shipley, who noted:

Extension plays a critical role engaging communities, forming essential partnerships, and addressing issues unique to urban populations and environments through research-based programs and resources.


 Delivering Extension Programs to the City - webinar recording

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CUCE-NYC food access program wins MarketMaker award

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Khin Mar Cho with Gary Matteson

Cornell University Cooperative Extension New York City (CUCE-NYC) received the 2014 Farm Credit MarketMaker Innovation Award for New York for their Faith-Based Food Hubs Program. The program connects NYC Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) to over 2,000 farms in the state, increasing community access to healthy food and providing new, urban markets for farmers. The program also benefits soup kitchens and food pantries.

Dr. Khin Mar Cho, Senior Extension Associate at CUCE-NYC accepted the award from Gary Matteson, Vice President of Young, Beginning, Small Farmer Programs and Outreach at MarketMaker. Dr. Khin noted,

Our experience during 2013 indicates that this is a viable approach to creating new urban markets for New York farmers in New York City and could be replicated in other New York State urban areas. Part of the attraction is its simplicity. Once established, these 'Food Hubs' should be self-maintaining without external funding, and the market place will maintain itself...


CUCE NYC, Khin Mar Cho, wins MarketMaker Award - College of Human Ecology

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Jennifer Tiffany named Executive Director of CUCE-NYC

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Jennifer Tiffany

Jennifer Tiffany

This week College of Human Ecology (CHE) dean Alan Mathios announced that Jennifer Tiffany will permanently serve as Executive Director for Cornell University Cooperative Extension in New York City (CUCE-NYC). She had been acting as interim director since the sudden loss of Donald Tobias in November, 2013.

In addition to her role as BCTR Director of Outreach and Community Engagement, Jennifer will continue to serve as Associate Director-Human Ecology of Cornell Cooperative Extension and as CHE’s Associate Director for Outreach and Extension. These positions, in conjunction with the newly-permanent CUCE-NYC directorship, put her in a prime position to connect and promote center and college research with communities throughout New York State and beyond, while also working to increase community members’, policy makers', and practitioners’ participation in developing research projects and agendas.

Tiffany named NYC cooperative extension director - Cornell Chronicle

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Student hydroponics lab is the only one in NYC

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Jennifer Tiffany, Roger Turgeon, and Jennifer Sirangelo

In the basement of the Food and Finance High School on W. 50th Street in Manhattan, tilapia swim in large, circular tanks. Under the guidance of Cornell Cooperative Extension applied scientist and extension associate Philson Warner, students help raise these and other varieties of fish that go on to be used in school lunches, distributed to green markets, and donated to hunger relief programs. By working in the  Hydroponics, Aquaculture, Aquaponics Learning Lab, students fulfill their state-mandated science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) lab requirements.

Recently Jennifer Sirangelo, National 4-H Council president, toured the labs to see how 4-H students are excelling in STEM projects. The tour was led by students, but the BCTR's Jennifer Tiffany, interim executive director of Cornell University Cooperative Extension - NYC and the school's principle Roger Turgeon we on hand. The labs were originally created as a part of the school's culinary program. The labs also include a hydroponics facility a few floors up. There waste from the fish is used in a nutrient-rich, soil-free culture to raise vegetables. The hydroponics process also serves to clean the water, which is then returned to the aquaponics lab to raise more fish, creating a symbiotic loop.







Video: Fish Farm Coop, Students Get Along Swimmingly in Hell's Kitchen - NY 1

Big Apple's Only Hydroponic Student Lab Showcased - Cornell Chronicle
Food and Finance High School Impacts Students and 4-H Alum in STEM - 4-H Today

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