Friday, December 18, 2009

New Article Published in the journal Cities and the Environment

Community Gardens as Contexts for Science, Stewardship,and Civic Action Learning

Marianne E. Krasny, Cornell University
Keith G. Tidball, Cornell University

Community gardens are heterogeneous environments that integrate environmental restoration, community activism, social interactions, cultural expression, and food security. As such, they provide a context for learning that addresses multiple societal goals, including a populace that is scientifically literate, practices environmental stewardship, and participates in civic life. Several theories are useful in describing the learning that occurs in community gardens, including those focusing on learning as acquisition of content by individuals, learning as interaction with other individuals and the environment and as increasingly skilled levels of participation in a community of practice, and social learning among groups of stakeholders leading to concerted action to enhance natural resources. In this paper, we use preliminary evidence from the Garden Mosaics intergenerational education program to suggest the potential for community gardens to foster multiple types of learning.

Click HERE for the full article.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tidball et al., 2009. "The Case for a Community Greening Research Agenda." Community Greening Review. ACGA; Columbus OH

Newly published, the most recent edition of the Community Greening Review is focused on research and features some of the big names in greening scholarship, including Frances Kuo, Rachel Kaplan, Laura Lawson, Bill Sullivan, and others.

Click on the photo to access the PDF at the ACGA website.

Tidball et al., 2009. "The Case for a Community Greening Research Agenda." Community Greening Review, Vol. 13. American Community Gardening Association: Columbus, OH.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Urban green space as provisioning and regulating ecosystem services - thoughts on escaping the "Cultural services" catch-all

Ecosystem service provision is a rapidly growing field of inquiry and policy making.  In urban social-ecological systems, ecosystem services are an important way of placing additional focus and value on “green infrastructure.”  Unfortunately, current understanding of urban natural resources and their subsequent valuing in ecosystem services terms does not optimize awareness or prioritization of these features and functions of the urban landscape.  This is a result of how urban natural resources are often categorized, as primarily cultural service providers as opposed to regulatory or provisioning services.  This paper explores a critical argument that urban natural resources, for example trees, community gardens, and other green space are sometimes misplaced in the “cultural services” category, especially when urban trees and other urban natural resources are considered as only or exclusively providing cultural (aesthetic, spiritual, or recreational)  ecosystem services.  Further, by drawing on the horticultural therapy and other “nature contact” literatures, this paper makes the argument that one could (perhaps should) consider trees and greenspaces as producing provisioning and regulating services rather than just cultural services.    This paper contributes to a much-needed synthesis of the human health benefits of green space to the ecosystem services and resilience discourse, but also points out that some cultural ecological services provided by the presence of certain “green infrastructure” might be in conflict with efforts to manage for other regulatory ecosystem services in the same SES (narrow scale), as in the case of a gardener growing an invasive species in an urban community garden, for example.

Currently, Pickett’s diagram describes “cultural” ecosystem services as “aesthetic, spiritual, or recreational,”  “provisioning” ecosystem services as “food, fiber, fuel,” and “regulating” ecosystem services as nutrient filtration and retention, carbon sequestration, and pest and disease suppression.  Cultural ecosystem services are the third category, indicating recognition of them, but ranking them (intentionally or not) as least important.  Provisioning services are second. Regulating are first.  I don’t take issue with that ordering.  What I DO take issue with is that some ecologists often place urban trees, or urban green space into the cultural category.  They argue that the trees in Manhattan, for example, serve mostly aesthetic purposes.  I agree that they do serve aesthetic purposes, but this neglects an important point, which is that they may not serve exclusively cultural services.

Focusing on “provisioning services” for a moment, I argue that these things can generically be considered provision of basic needs for humans to thrive.  Now, if one considers the copious literature on the benefits of green space, trees, etc on both physical and mental health in urban contexts, then urban green space is contributing far more than just cultural ecosystem services.  If one considers the health benefits of green space, trees, etc in urban areas, then these green spaces are AT LEAST contributing  “provisioning services.” 

Focusing now on “regulating services,” it is does not appear to be difficult to link all the aforementioned peer-reviewed literature on physical and mental health benefits of green space to the notion of pest and disease suppression among humans and other species of concern within the SES of interest.  It just hasn't been done yet to my knowledge.  If it HAS been done in the ecosystem services literature, I am pretty sure it hasn't been done in the resilience framework.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Resilience presentation added to Urban Forestry South Expo Library

The presentation I made in Stockholm at the Resilience Conference in 2008 has been added to the Urban Forestry South Expo. Click on the image for more...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Growing safe affordable good food in the City of Buffalo New York

Will Allen, the winner of a 2008 Mc Arthur Foundation “Genius Grant” along with two other Growing Power staffs will lead a training in Buffalo NY on Saturday Sept 5th and Sunday Sept 6th. Growing Power will work with the Community Action Organization (CAO) of Erie County New York which is lead by Executive Director L. Nathan. This partnership will lead the training in building a green house, aquaponics system, compost and vermicompost system. The goal of this infrastructure development and training is to inspire, engage and teach residents how to grow safe, healthy and affordable good food; food grown without the use of chemicals.

“This project will help more people join the Good Food Revolution that’s underway,” said Will Allen, founder and CEO of Growing Power. Buffalo’s Mayor Byron Brown has endorsed this project and will be in attendance over the weekend.

“We need to learn to grow good food closer to where people live. These systems show how we can accomplish this in a very small area using intensive, sustainable practices. ”

–Will Allen, CEO of Growing Power

Growing Power is a national non profit organization and land trust based in Milwaukee with outreach training centers throughout the United States and around the world.

Additional Contact Information:

Community Action Organization | 70 Harvard Place | Buffalo, NY 14209


Friday, July 17, 2009

Congress Introduces Community Garden Bills!

Jay Inslee of Washington just introduced HR 3225: The Community Gardens Act of 2009 "To help provide funds for community gardens, and for other purposes" and Doris Matsui of California introduced a resolution Supporting the goals and ideals of National Community Gardening Awareness Month. I've posted the resolution text below.

Best of all, Inslee's got a total of 18 co-sponsors for his bill, including:
Del. Madeleine Bordallo [D-GU]
Del. Donna Christensen [D-VI]
Del. Eleanor Norton [D-DC]
Rep. Earl Blumenauer [D-OR3]
Rep. André Carson [D-IN7]
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver [D-MO5]
Rep. John Conyers [D-MI14]
Rep. Donna Edwards [D-MD4]
Rep. Eliot Engel [D-NY17]
Rep. Raul Grijalva [D-AZ7]
Rep. Marcy Kaptur [D-OH9]
Rep. Barbara Lee [D-CA9]
Rep. Carolyn Maloney [D-NY14]
Rep. Doris Matsui [D-CA5]
Rep. James McGovern [D-MA3]
Rep. Dennis Moore [D-KS3]
Rep. James Moran [D-VA8]
Rep. Lynn Woolsey [D-CA6]

If you see your representative listed here, please thank them! If you don't, drop them a line and tell them you support these two measures and you'd like them to co-sponsor them!

Monday, June 8, 2009

More Defiant Gardens Fort Drum Press

Click on the picture for the story from the Fort Drum newspaper.

The Cornell Chronicle also recently ran a story on Defiant can read it here.

Finally, the Children and Nature Forum newsletter recently featured Defiant Gardens. See below or see a pdf of the Defiant Gardens section of the newsletter here.

Behind the Scenes at the Forum Boy with conch
act, meet and learn about the National Forum on Children and Nature. In this issue:

act: American Community Gardening Association - Project Ecopolis
Project EcropolisGardens are a source of food and flowers - tending them can be soothing and satisfying. This is true for people with yards and for those living in cities, when community gardens are nearby. The goal of Project Ecopolis is to share the benefits of gardening with children who work alongside adult community gardeners to grow vegetables and herbs from around the world.

Gardens can also be a place to renew and reintegrate for children, families and soldiers returning from combat. This is why Project Ecopolis began work at Fort Drum, NY, the most heavily deployed unit in the US military, to give members of the military and their families "common ground." Project Ecopolis' Defiant Gardens, in partnership with Cornell University, is a program to plant gardens on military bases and throughout nearby military communities. Starting in July, the Defiant Gardens 4-H program will also send container gardens to U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

"Gardens provide a different opportunity than any other support because it's in nature, and it's a less obvious way of bringing people together and forming community," says Jeremiah Maxon, Cornell Cooperative Extension's Defiant Gardens 4-H educator in Jefferson County, NY. "It helps meet needs that military families might not know they have. A military family might not think to join a community garden when a parent deploys, but [doing so] brings them back to nature and to the community."

The program launches this summer with eight gardens in deployment-affected communities in NY, while 12 container gardens will be growing in Afghanistan, tended by the 3-71 Cavalry Unit where many members from these communities are deployed.

Cornell Professor Marianne Krasny, who led the development of the
Garden Mosaics intergenerational urban community gardening program, notes that community gardening is getting a lot of attention these days. "Michele Obama planted a garden on the White House lawn and Secretary Vilsack has called for community gardens outside USDA facilities. Such gardens have the potential not only to help kids eat healthy food and get exercise, but also to help them connect with parents and other adults in their communities. Such community connections - and connections with nature - are critical for kids' healthy development."

Support Project Ecopolis >>

meet: Charles O. Holliday, Jr., DuPont
On January 1, 2009, after ten years as CEO of DuPont, Charles O. Holliday, Jr. retired, retaining his position as Chairman of the Board. During his time as CEO of DuPont, Mr. Holliday helped transform the chemical company to become a leader in the next generation of transformative technologies. He forged the way by embracing the concept of sustainable development, believing that economic growth, social progress, and environmental balance are not mutually exclusive goals.

Mr. Holliday's efforts were rewarded in early May when he received the 2009 International Palladium Medal from the American Section of the Société de Chimie Industrielle, a prestigious award that recognizes his efforts to globalize the industry and advance science through the integration of biology and chemistry.

When it comes to the environment, Mr. Holliday has seen evidence of climate change and has committed his company to reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. He understands that restricting emissions now can help businesses avoid risks in the future, such as the buildup of heat-trapping gases that can eventually cause flooding or droughts.

With this in mind, Mr. Holliday led the way to support government action in capping emissions and installing a trading system by which companies that are able to cost-effectively reduce their emissions can sell emission allowances to others that can't. He has built on the firm's long tradition of technology advances and has shown how a for-profit enterprise can prosper in a world wrestling with economic, social, and environmental change.

The Built Environment: Designing Communities to Promote Physical Activity in Children
issue 12 learn photoA child's life is affected by the environment in which he or she lives. Relationships between health and the quality of air, water, and food are well recognized. The physical environments of the home and school also influence health through exposures to lead, mold, noise, or ambient light.

The overall structure of the physical environment of a child's community (referred to as the "built environment") can also affect health in diverse ways. As cities have expanded into rural areas, large tracts of land have been transformed into low-density developments in a "leapfrog" manner. The resultant urban sprawl can increase automobile travel, which increases air pollution as well as passenger and pedestrian traffic fatalities. Some urban areas may have few supermarkets, produce stands, or community gardens, thereby limiting access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The physical environment of a community can support opportunities for play, an essential component of child development, and for physical activity, a health behavior that not only reduces risk of excess weight gain, but also has many other benefits for overall well-being.

Read more of this article at the
American Academy of Pediatrics website.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Seneca Wild Harvest Table

A poster I co-authored with my wife Moira Tidball was presented entitled "Exploring Fish and Game as a Component of Local Food Systems: Seneca County CCE’s Wild Harvest Table Project” at the Enhancing Local and Regional Food Systems: Exploring the Research, What Works, and What We Need to Learn workshop, Hudson Valley Resort, Kerhonkson, NY, May 2009.

To see the poster, click on the image.

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Defiant Gardens" Military Families

The Defiant Gardens Military Families Project has opened the planting season with a bang.

The program was featured on a local news program recently, and yesterday, kicked off the planting season at Fort Drum with a workshop and planting day with project collaborators from The Growing Connection. My photos of this event can be found here.

For background on the project, read the funded proposal here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cornell College Of Agriculture and Life Sciences Fights for Urban Well-being

The Spring 2009 issue of CALS News highlights urban research and extension work within Cornell's College Of Agriculture and Life Sciences, including my work.

See the article here.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Million Trees NYC Work Shop a Success

The Million Trees NYC Research Workshop was a resounding success. We had a great turnout of researchers and practitioners, worked hard, and developed a draft research agenda which is to be published very soon. Below is a recap of the conference:

Directions to all workshop locations are available at
Click on each marker to create custom driving, transit or walking directions from your location.

Tuesday 28 April, 6-8pm
Welcome reception
The Arsenal roof, 830 Fifth Avenue (at East 64th Street and Fifth Avenue, just inside Central Park)
Adrian Benepe, Commissioner, City of New York Parks & Recreation (NYC Parks)
Drew Becher, Executive Director of New York Restoration Project (NYRP)
Michael Rains, Director, US Forest Service Northern Research Station

Wednesday 29 April, 8:30-11:00am (breakfast at 8 am)
Opportunities for Research and Collaboration in the Context of MillionTreesNYC
Gracie Mansion, East End Avenue at 88th Street
Susan Donoghue, Assistant Commissioner for PlaNYC, NYC Parks
Cristiana Fragola and Megan Shane, Directors for MillionTreesNYC, NYC Parks and NYRP
Fiona Watt, Assistant Commissioner for Forestry, Horticulture & Natural Resources, NYC Parks
Morgan Grove, Research Social Scientist, US Forest Service Northern Research Station
Timon McPhearson, Assistant Professor of Ecology, The New School
David Maddox, Chief Scientist, Sound Science

Wednesday 29 April, 11:15-5:30pm
Field visits to MillionTreesNYC planting and research locations
Locations around New York City, transportation and bag lunch provided
Field visits to MillionTreesNYC planting and research locations across a variety of site typologies such as street trees, public housing grounds and natural area reforestation. At each site there will be presentations and discussion by practitioners and researchers concerning current work, challenges to success, and the needs and opportunities for research.

Thursday 30 April, 8:30-5:00pm

Federal Building, 290 Broadway (at Duane St), 30th Floor
Opening Talk: What MillionTreesNYC and the City of New York can offer researchers
Jacqueline Lu, Director of Research & Analysis, Forestry, Horticulture & Natural Resources, NYC Parks
Introduction to the process of the day
David Maddox, Chief Scientist, Sound Science
Small groups to develop thematic research agendas in diverse topics
Facilitated breakout sessions and discussions in small groups, each of which develop a draft research agenda (i.e., research questions) in one of several subject areas. All workshop attendees to participate in two groups of their choice, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Subject areas include:
• Economic impacts
• Labor markets / green jobs
• Ecosystem services: local air quality and urban heat island
• Implications of scale (regional, climate, watersheds, population, etc)
• Green infrastructure and planting site design
• Reforestation dynamics and forest health
• Human health, well-being and quality of life
• Stewardship, civic engagement and social capital
• Ecosystem services: water quality and stormwater management
• Wildlife biodiversity and ecological communities
• Social justice and MillionTreesNYC
• Education and ecological literacy

Friday 1 May 9:00am-1pm

Federal Building, 290 Broadway (at Duane St), 30th Floor
Opening talk: Synthesizing an interdisciplinary research agenda
Keith Tidball, Associate Director of Initiative for Civic Ecology, Cornell University
Keynote: Building science collaborations between cities and researchers: Lessons from the Baltimore Ecosystem Study
Steward T.A. Pickett, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Discussion: Review and Q&A for each of Thursday’s topics
Designated leaders from each Topic Group. Open discussion with emphasis on opportunities for collaboration and cross-disciplinary work.