The Univ. of Arizona Cooperative Extension home horticulture World Wide Web site for Maricopa County, “Environmentally responsible gardening and landscaping in the low desert,” provides the public with timely, research-based, regionally appropriate information. This delivery method enables self-service access to prepared text information and high-quality images that could not be economically distributed via traditional print methods, and interactive opportunities for submitting questions.
Lucy K. Bradley and Jean C. Stutz
Sam Marshall, David Orr, Lucy Bradley, and Christopher Moorman
There are ≈40 million acres of turfgrass lawns throughout the United States, most of which are managed under chemical-intensive pest and fertilizer programs. “Organic lawn care” is being adopted more widely; however, unlike the formally defined policies and regulations that govern organic agriculture, the label organic lawn management has not been formally defined and is used to describe a variety of practices. Neighborhoods, cities, states, and provinces across North America are adopting policies regulating the use of pesticides and fertilizers in the landscape. In addition, a small but growing number of public institutions and individual consumers are successfully adopting alternative lawn care methods, including organic lawn care. Although perceived as environmentally friendly, the effects of organic management on insect diversity and pest management remain understudied. Organic lawn management may lead to increased lawn plant diversity, which in agroecosystems has enhanced ecological services provided by beneficial insect species. Effects of vegetative diversity on lawn pest management are less clear. Vegetative complexity and increased plant diversity in urban landscapes may enhance insect predator efficacy. The diversity of predatory insects varies between turfgrass varieties in response to prey populations. Mortality of insectivorous and granivorous ground beetles (Carabidae) while not directly impacted by pest management programs in turfgrass may be indirectly impacted by a reduction in the prevalence of plant species that provide alternative food resources. Previous studies have focused on herbivorous insects as well as predatory and parasitic insects that feed on them. Future studies should assess how lawn plant diversity resulting from organic management practices might impact insect communities in turfgrass.
Lucy Bradley, Leslie Towill, Jean Stutz, and Robert Roberson
Conversion of the introductory plant biology course for non-majors from a lecture/lab format to a web-based course was a collaborative project between the Department of Plant Biology and the Instructional Support group at ASU. This course provides an introduction to biology through the world of plants by including lectures and laboratory activities that examine plant systems. The project was undertaken to provide students with an asynchronous opportunity to participate in either the course, the lab, or both. There were three distinct phases of implementation of the multimedia website: Design, Development, and Delivery. The design phase was driven by the faculty, who, along with graduate assistants, developed the course outline and content. They gathered images, identified concepts to be animated, and created storyboards to layout the sequence in the animation. The development stage was driven by the Instructional Designers who selected the appropriate media for animations and worked with developers to create them. The delivery phase was again driven by the professors. They implemented the website as a teaching tool, gathered feedback from students and teaching assistants, and worked with instructional designers and multimedia developers to improve the site. A wide variety of on-line multimedia components were incorporated into the website, including illustrations, images, animations, interactive modules, video and text. Three separate media packages were used: MacroMedia Flash (Macromedia, 2000), Director Shockwave (Macromedia, 2000), and QuickTime (Apple, Inc. 2000). Findings from surveys of students, faculty, and staff identified positive regard for the site as a whole. Several technological and logistical challenges were encountered and addressed.
Ellen M. Bauske, Lelia Kelly, Kerry Smith, Lucy Bradley, Timothy Davis, and Pam Bennett
Extension Master Gardener (EMG) volunteers are key to effective dissemination of horticultural information to the public. The goal of this workshop was to identify techniques to increase the capacity and effectiveness of EMG volunteers. The workshop focused on projects and tools that reduce the administrative burden of managing volunteers, increase the scope of issues that volunteers are prepared to address, and pool volunteer efforts and resources across county lines. Two online systems for managing and reporting EMG volunteer activities were described. Both systems are intuitive, user-friendly, and updated without the assistance of web managers. Regional web-based, advanced training on specific topics was used to expand educational messages of EMG volunteers and eliminate the costs associated with face-to-face training. Presentations were made using distance learning technologies and resources were shared online. Hosting agents tailored hands-on supporting activities to meet local needs. Volunteers expanded extension outreach by answering noncommercial landscape and garden telephone questions. Many of the administrative, logistical, and resource burdens associated with the EMG helpline phone service were overcome by working across county lines, standardizing training, centralizing supporting resources, and clustering volunteers into regional telephone helpline offices. Other projects and tools presented in the workshop focused on the need to affirm and/or foster the volunteers' connection with the university and the outreach mission of Cooperative Extension.
Sheri Dorn, Lucy Bradley, Debbie Hamrick, Julie Weisenhorn, Pam Bennett, Jill Callabro, Bridget Behe, Ellen Bauske, and Natalie Bumgarner
The National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture (NICH) is a diverse consortium of leaders who provide a unified voice for promoting the benefits and value of consumer horticulture (CH). NICH endeavors to unite national research efforts with the goals of the diverse stakeholders in the industry, the public sector, and the gardening public in an effort to advance knowledge and increase benefits and application of horticulture for cultivating a healthy world through landscapes, gardens, and plants, and an improved quality of life. Benefits of CH are broadly applicable, whether economic, environmental, or community- and health-related. A benefits approach to marketing sets the stage for unprecedented collaboration, such as that demonstrated by NICH. NICH members have developed three broad goals: recognizing CH as a driver of the agricultural economy; highlighting that CH restores, protects, and conserves natural resources through research and education; and cultivating healthy, connected, and engaged communities through CH. Three NICH committees (Economic, Environmental, and Community and Health Benefits) have focused their efforts on NICH goals for the past 10 months. The three committee chairs, representing ≈30 committee members, presented the results of their efforts and future directions for their committees. The Economic and Environmental committees have proceeded with campaigns to better market CH by promoting the benefits of plants and to increase environmental benefits by changing consumer behavior. After reviewing current research, the Community and Health Benefits Committee suggested that a gap exists in research related to specific benefits of CH and personal gardening (as opposed to benefits accrued by enjoying forests, horticulture therapy, indoor atriums, community gardens, parks, and other public places). The committee suggested that overcoming this gap requires strategic collaboration of skill and expertise from a more diverse group of industry representatives, specialists, and scientists. This approach has tremendous potential to affect the CH marketplace, especially when drawing multiple sources of value from the products and experiences.
Ellen M. Bauske, Gary R. Bachman, Tom Bewick, Lucy Bradley, David Close, Rick Durham, and Mary Hockenberry Meyer
Consumer horticulture encompasses interior and exterior ornamental, food, and community gardening. These activities influence the environment in many ways, affecting water quality and quantity, waste management, wildlife, and environmental sustainability. Consumer horticulture also impacts human health and well-being. In spite of keen consumer interest and the robust commercial impact, there is a paucity of support for consumer horticulture at both the state and federal levels. To explore strategies for increasing support for consumer horticulture, a workshop with four presentations was held at the annual conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science on 31 July 2014 in Orlando, FL. Presentations described the formation of a new Southern Experiment Extension/Research Activity, Landscapes and Gardens for Better Living (SERA44); the local funding sources and local issues that focus research, education, and extension efforts in consumer horticulture; and the need to develop shared goals to drive regional projects. The need for a national strategic plan for consumer horticulture, and a process for creating one, was outlined. A strategic plan could galvanize the support of diverse stakeholders; focus research, education, and extension efforts; and build a strong case for resources dedicated to consumer horticulture.
Ellen M. Bauske, Gary R. Bachman, Lucy Bradley, Karen Jeannette, Alison Stoven O’Connor, and Pamela J. Bennett
Communication is a critical issue for consumer horticulture specialists and extension agents. They must communicate effectively with the public interested in gardening, with Extension Master Gardener (EMG) volunteers and with other scientists. A workshop was held at the Annual Conference of the American Society for Horticultural Science on 22 July 2013 in Palm Desert, CA, with the intent of sharing tips and techniques that facilitated consumer horticulture and EMG programming. Presentations focused on communication. One program leader reported on the North Carolina Master Gardener web site, which integrates an online volunteer management system (VMS) with widely available web tools to create one-stop shopping for people who want to volunteer, get help from volunteers, or support volunteers at both the county and state level. Another program used the state VMS to house videos providing continuing education (CE) training required for EMG volunteers. This training is available 24 hours per day and 7 days per week. Agents created the videos by recording live presentations with widely available, screen capture software and a microphone. Features that make the social media site Pinterest a strong tool for gathering together focused programming resources and professional collaboration were outlined. Finally, the use of a compact, subirrigated gardening system that uses peat-based potting mix was suggested as a means to simplify communication with new urban gardeners and address their unique gardening issues.
Lucy K. Bradley, Ellen M. Bauske, Thomas A. Bewick, John R. Clark, Richard. E. Durham, Gail Langellotto, Mary H. Meyer, Margaret Pooler, and Sheri Dorn
Consumer horticulture encompasses a wide array of activities that are practiced by and of interest to the gardening public, garden-focused nongovernmental organizations, and gardening-related industries. In a previous publication, we described the current lack of funding for research, extension, and education in consumer horticulture and outlined the need for a strategic plan. Here, we describe our process and progress in crafting a plan to guide university efforts in consumer horticulture, and to unite these efforts with stakeholders’ goals. In 2015, a steering committee developed a first draft of a plan, including a mission statement, aspirational vision, core values, goals, and objectives. This draft was subsequently presented to and vetted by stakeholders at the 2015 American Society for Horticultural Science Consumer Horticulture and Master Gardeners (CHMG) working group workshop, a 2015 Extension Master Gardener Coordinators’ webinar, and a 2015 meeting in Washington, DC. Feedback received from these events is being used to refine and focus plan goals and objectives. The most recent working draft of the plan can be found on the website, where stakeholders and other interested parties can register to receive updates and to provide input into the process.
Lucy K. Bradley, Bridget K. Behe, Natalie R. Bumgarner, Charlotte D. Glen, Joseph L. Donaldson, Ellen M. Bauske, Sheri Dorn, and Gail Langellotto
Consumer horticulture (CH) programming can result in outcomes and impacts at the individual level, such as money saved by reducing inputs, greater return on the landscape investment, healthier plants, and improved quality of life. It may also lead to community-level impacts that provide public value, such as water quality protection, water conservation, and protection of biodiversity. In addition to documenting such outcomes and impacts, it is important to quantify their economic value, connect the value to actions taken by extension audiences, and demonstrate to extension’s stakeholders a return on investment. However, it is difficult to document the economic contributions of consumer horticulture and even more difficult to document the economic impact of consumer horticulture extension programs. CH reaches individuals and communities directly and indirectly through personal gardens and landscapes, indoor flowers and plants, school and community gardens, and horticulture therapy. The economic contributions and benefits of consumer horticulture are challenging to quantify, but can be evaluated using several different strategies, including measuring the consumer dollars spent and the economy driven by consumers’ purchase of gardening supplies and landscape services. A second strategy is to examine the value of consumers’ gardening actions on environmental ecosystem services that support soils and plants, provide food and raw materials, and regulate functions, such as pollination, storm water catchment, water quality preservation, green waste reduction, and wildlife habitat and diversity. A third strategy is to focus on cultural, social, and health system services, such as education, recreation, and therapy, that result in exercise, nutrition, health, and happiness. Using a combination of these strategies, workgroups of Tennessee extension professionals are balancing the feasibility of data collection with the usefulness of the data gathered by developing realistic and robust outcome indicators that will form the basis for local and statewide reporting.
Natalie Bumgarner, Sheri Dorn, Esther McGinnis, Pam Bennett, Ellen Bauske, Sarada Krishnan, and Lucy Bradley
Many fields of research converge to assess the impact of plants on human health, well-being, and nutrition. However, even with a recent history of horticulturists contributing to human–plant interaction work, much of the current research is conducted outside the context of horticulture and specifically outside of consumer horticulture (CH). To connect CH to research being conducted by other disciplines that explore the role of plants in improving human quality of life, a workshop was held on 1 Aug. 2018 in Washington, DC, at the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) annual conference. The workshop focused on current food science, nutrition, and crop-breeding efforts to enhance nutrition and flavor, and human health and well-being research related to nature and plant interactions in an increasingly urban population. Following these presentations regarding potential research linkages and collaboration opportunities, a facilitated discussion identified ways to improve future CH research and foster collaborative work. Action items identified included connecting research and vocabulary to help cultivate an interest in plants in younger generations; supporting awareness of collaborative opportunities with health, nutrition, urban planning, and public health practitioners; ensuring CH is known to administrators; and taking responsibility for initiating communication with colleagues in these areas.