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Archives for April 7, 2013

Students learn worldly ag skills at Southwest Florida farm


  • Corey Perrine/StaffDavid Miller works to prepare a crop field with wife, Bonny Jean Miller in the background helping at ECHO's Global Farm Wednesday, March 6, 2013 in North Fort Myers, Fla. The two were from Bary College in Rome, Ga. on their spring break to improve their knowledge when helping on agriculture missions for their church. The farm is recreating several climates around the world, including Haiti. Interns are learning the skills so that they can visit counties such as Haiti and teach the community how to become self-sufficient by growing.

  • Corey Perrine/StaffCharles Anderas of Green Bay, Wisc. closes the cage after feeding a rabbit at ECHO's Global Farm Wednesday, March 6, 2013 in North Fort Myers, Fla. The 50-acre farm is recreating several climates around the world, including Haiti. Interns are learning the skills so that they can visit counties such as Haiti and teach the community how to become self-sufficient by growing.

  • Corey Perrine/StaffA treadle pump is marked at ECHO's Global Farm Wednesday, March 6, 2013 in North Fort Myers, Fla. The pump is cost effective in low income areas and pump more water with less energy than hand pumps. The farm is recreating several climates around the world, including Haiti. Interns are learning the skills so that they can visit counties such as Haiti and teach the community how to become self-sufficient by growing.

  • Corey Perrine/StaffAdorned in trash bags to stave off the morning rain, Melanie Govan, from left of Detroit, Mich. Maureen Hurd of Grand Rapids, Mich. and Ashley Darocha of Oxford, Mich. weed out an area to plant a crop at ECHO's Global Farm Wednesday, March 6, 2013 in North Fort Myers, Fla. The women are spending their spring break from Grand Valley State University to increase their hands on knowledge about agriculture. The 50-acre farm is recreating several climates around the world, including Haiti. Interns are learning the skills so that they can visit counties such as Haiti and teach the community how to become self-sufficient by growing.

  • Corey Perrine/StaffMaie Shelli, from left, an intern from Yonkers, N.Y. works in a a field prepping to be planted at ECHO's Global Farm Wednesday, March 6, 2013 in North Fort Myers, Fla. The farm is recreating several climates around the world, including Haiti. Interns are learning the skills so that they can visit counties such as Haiti and teach the community how to become self-sufficient by growing.



A couple of seeds in Southwest Florida are spreading a long way to developing countries across the world.

Rachelle Albright, who grew up in West Africa, knows firsthand about the need to equip people with agricultural skills to help reduce hunger in those countries.

Albright has been working at ECHO, a 31-year-old nonprofit, Christian organization headquartered in North Fort Myers, for about a year.

ECHO is dedicated to training Third World agricultural development workers to be more effective in helping poverty-stricken farmers grow their own food under difficult conditions.

The 50-acre farm, at 17391 Durrance Road off Bayshore Road, east of Interstate 75, re-creates several climates around the world and grows 272 varieties of produce in difficult conditions.

ECHO works with about 3,000 organizations around the world. It offers conferences, workshops and study courses for its members. It has three research centers — in East Africa, South Africa and Thailand.

“There is a huge need for what ECHO does,” Albright said.

On a recent morning, Albright, 23, who is from Georgia, weeded the land to plant sunflower seeds at the rain forest plot. The 10,000-square-foot rain forest area is designed to have limited space, as well as shade and daylight competition.

Staff members and volunteers grow seeds at the farm of plants that have a potential for producing under difficult conditions, such as too dry, too wet or too hilly for most crops. The farm has five environmental settings, a community garden and urban garden, ECHO spokeswoman Danielle Flood said.

Flood said ECHO gives free trial packages of 10 seeds overseas to leaders. Then, the packages could multiply into thousands of plants.

In 2012, ECHO distributed an average of 2,432 packages of seeds, an increase of 2,366 packages in 2011.

Around the corner from the rain forest plot, there is an estimated 2,000-square-foot urban garden.

Flood explained how edible plants, such as basil, sunflower, tomatoes and peppers, are grown on top of carpet, representing urban areas around the world where there is no land to grow. The roots are growing into the carpet.

The farm recycles material to grow food in, such as using a tire as a pot. It also uses cans and bottles as soil mulch. In the past 31 years, the farm grew from 5 acres to 10 times its original size.

The farm offers public guided tours and has more than 300 volunteers per year to supplement its 55 staff members.

David Miller and his wife, Bonny-Jean, enjoy spending their spring break to help others. David Miller, 24, a horticulture technician at Berry College in Northwest Georgia who formerly worked in the landscaping business, said he and his wife are devoted to serving others.

And that was exactly what the duo did on a recent morning.

Using shovels, the couple arranged dirt near 15 raised beds, which were lined with plastic. Later, they planned to poke holes in the plastic-lined raised beds to plant seeds, including pumpkin, seven-year lima bean and seed regeneration.

“I love my job, but it’s all ornamental trees,” Miller said. “I have more of a passion for farming food and doing it in a responsible way, in a way that feeds people and teaches them to feed themselves.”

After picking up tips from volunteering at the farm, Miller said he is interested in going overseas to teach his newly learned techniques to others so that they can start growing their own crops.

“I feel responsible because this is my passion to go out and serve others for God’s glory, specifically,” Miller said.

Naples-based Hope for Haiti, a nonprofit organization, supports the work of their colleague.

Tiffany Kuehner, Hope for Haiti president and chief executive officer, said it’s rare to find an organization that fills an important niche of pushing agricultural development and livestock forward in a way that is focused on sustainability and increasing food availability.

A lot of the work that ECHO does applies to what Hope for Haiti is doing too, using innovation in agriculture.

“They are a wonderful resource,” Kuehner said.

Hope for Haiti staff in Haiti is in frequent contact with ECHO when there are questions or new ideas. Often, Hope for Haiti staff members spend times reviewing ECHO’s library material.

“Hopefully, they are coming out with new innovations that may change agriculture as we know it in developing countries,” Kuehner said.

Article source: http://www.marconews.com/news/2013/apr/06/students-learn-worldly-ag-skills-at-southwest/

Spring Home and Garden Show at Flint’s Perani Arena offers landscaping, home … – The Flint Journal

Perani Arena Hosts Annual Garden Show

FLINT, MI – Two rows of bright, yellow daffodils and petite, pink pansies greeted visitors walking into Perani Arena in Flint Saturday, April 6.

Tucked under hearty juniper shrubs and nestled into a bed of mulch, the scent of flowers thickened the air with signs of the season’s change at the Spring Home and Garden Show.

The event featured about 50 vendors specializing in landscaping, gardening, home improvement and remodeling. An area inside the arena housed about 100 exhibits.

Displays included a landscape demonstration, interactive “ask the expert” segments detailing new flowers for 2013 and organic farming, and a live auction with items like a 10-yard plot of mulch and a weatherproof, nature-themed painting. 

The 70- and 80-degree temperatures from spring of last year were long gone, but the cool breezes Saturday was perfect weather for the event, according to Jeremy Torrey, general manager of Perani Arena.

“When it gets really nice, a lot of people get cabin fever over the winter and they do other things rather than coming back inside to the show,” Torrey said.

Torrey said the show has been running for more than 70 years and has been held at Perani Arena for the last two years. Although several thousand people usually attend, Torrey said it has decreased in size, citing a dismal housing industry and an overall weakened economy over the last seven years.

“We’re starting to rebuild it,” Torrey said. “This is probably the biggest show in the last four years or so.”

John and Teresa Hamilton of Grand Blanc were browsing the show for ideas as they plan to add flower boxes and retaining walls in the front yard of their home.

“It’s kind of an open slate right now,” John Hamilton said.

Randy Mallory, a retired landscaper of Mt. Morris, said he attended the show because he was interested in figuring out planting and landscaping this year for his yard. Mallory said the economy has not had a major effect on his landscaping budget this year.

“We’re still going to spend right around $1,000 in flowers in our yard again,” he said. “But we’re buying more perennials instead of all annuals.”

Greg Jones and Stephanie Kohler of Fenton were there to get ideas and find designs for an outdoor patio or deck for their newly purchased home.

“We just bought a house so we’re getting ideas on what we want to do,” Kohler said.

The weekend event costs $3 to attend for adults and is free for children 18 and under. Proceeds from the live auction, which includes flowers, plants, trees and landscape supplies on display in the show, go to Habitat for Humanity and the Genesee Area Landscape Nursery Association.

Show times are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, with the live auction presented by Genesee Area Landscape and Nursery Association taking place at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Article source: http://www.mlive.com/news/flint/index.ssf/2013/04/spring_home_and_garden_show_at.html

Growing Concerns: Gardens get to sleep in, but plenty to do when they awaken – Post


Posted: Saturday, April 6, 2013 6:39 am
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Updated: 6:40 am, Sat Apr 6, 2013.


Growing Concerns: Gardens get to sleep in, but plenty to do when they awaken

Robin Fruth-Dugstad

Post-Bulletin Company, LLC

I have been trying to decide if spring is late this year or if this is a normal spring and we were spoiled by last year’s early arrival. The garden will eventually wake up, and then the spring garden chores will pile up.


Check for signs of spring growth. Look for the early spring blooming bulbs like winter aconite, crocus, glory-of-the-snow and others. Remove faded blossoms but allow the foliage to naturally ripen and store food in the bulb for next year’s flower show.

I was in Auburn, Ala., in early March, and the forsythia and redbud were in full bloom. These spring blooming branches should be blooming soon in southern Minnesota. For those who cannot wait, prune a few branches off and bring inside to force. Forcing can also be done with some of our late spring bloomers like crabapple and lilac.

It’s time to remove the spruce tops and convert the winter containers to spring containers. Fill containers with long-blooming cool-season plants like pansy, snapdragon, sweet alyssum, stock and dusty miller. These cool-season plants tolerate frosts. Wow, I can smell the flowers already!

One advantage to this late spring is that there is still time to prune fruit trees before buds begin to break into bloom. Pruning after bud break will stress the plants and reduce fruit yield, so check the buds before pruning.

Clean up the debris in the garden. Prune perennials left in the garden for winter interest. Remove winter mulch, or, if it has decomposed, just work it into the soil. Incorporate organic matter like leaf mold or composted manure into the soil. Do not work wet soil, it will compact the soil and damage the soil structure.

Spring is a good time to divide fall blooming perennials. Just as the new growth peeks through the soil, dig up the clump, divide into sections, replant, and water.

Cover the soil with a black fabric to warm the soil quickly for planting. Luckily I prepared my garden last fall, so as soon as the snow melts I will be rolling out my black fabric to start heating up the soil for my cool season crops.

When the soil temperature reaches 50 degrees, it is time to plant potatoes and peas, and time to transplant cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, and artichoke into the garden. Soil temperature can be measured with a thermometer or by walking barefoot across the garden without getting cold feet.

Continue to feed the birds. It is going to be a while before there is a food source for them.

There is plenty to do in the garden in April. Celebrate the arrival of spring by spending time in the garden. We have been waiting for this one, so enjoy the color.

Robin Fruth-Dugstad is a horticulture professor at Rochester Community and Technical College with 25 years of experience gardening and landscaping. Send plant and garden questions to life@postbulletin.com.

on

Saturday, April 6, 2013 6:39 am.

Updated: 6:40 am.

Article source: http://www.postbulletin.com/life/lifestyles/growing-concerns-gardens-get-to-sleep-in-but-plenty-to/article_712ab137-6e1a-59bb-bd42-ecd62affefbd.html

Gardening tips on offer at National Waterfront Museum

GREEN-FINGERED experts will be in Swansea on Sunday to help kick-start spring.

Representatives from the National Botanic Garden will visit the National Waterfront Museum to deliver a packed day to get your green fingers into gear from 11.30am.

Events officer, Miranda Berry, said: “We’re delighted with the botanical-themed event, it will be a chance for people to discover more about blossoms and blooms and find out more about how to grow your own.

“It will be a great family day out with lots to see and do, including kids’ craft.”


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Article source: http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/Gardening-tips-offer-National-Waterfront-Museum/story-18618348-detail/story.html

Tips on Catching the Elephant Ears Trend from Longfield-Gardens.com

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Elephant ears in pot.

Elephant ears are part of a decor trend this spring.

For drama, place huge pots of elephant ears right into the garden where they become vertical accents amidst the other plants.

Lakewood, NJ (PRWEB) April 02, 2013

This spring, many gardeners are turning to elephant ear plants for drama, placing huge pots of the big-leafed tropical-looking foliage right into the garden where they become vertical accents set amidst the other plants. A second exterior décor trend is to group pots of large elephant ears as versatile accents on patios, decks and balconies.

These spring-planted summer wonders excel as oversized-exclamations in garden beds or large containers, sometimes both simultaneously. Here are some timely tips on planting elephant ears from an expert at Longfield Gardens.

“It’s time to plant elephant ear bulbs when frosts are past and soil is warm, about the time for planting tomatoes, ” says Hans Langeveld of Longfield Gardens an online retail source for quality bulbs and perennials

In fact, three different plants are commonly called elephant ears: Alocasia, Colocasia and Xanthosoma. “All three are genera of the plant family Araceae, grow from tuberous roots, and prefer moist soil,” says Langeveld. All three are popular for garden beds, containers and water gardens. Following are tips from Langeveld on catching the elephant ear trend.”

  • Alocasia prefers part shade and wet but well-drained soil. Colocasia and Xanthosoma are not picky about light and want their soil moist, even soggy and can be grown in pots without drainage holes. Most potted plants need good drainage, but not these two. They’ll grow fine in any pot, even in pots under water.
  • To tell which is what at a glance, examine the leaves. If the leaves are shiny and heart-shaped with leaf tips pointed up or outward, it’s an alocasia aka the Upright Elephant Ear. Colocasia leaves are also heart-shaped but pointing downward and tend to bob in summer breezes, drooping off resilient stems. Xanthosoma leaves point downward, too, but are typically arrow-shaped.
  • Within the elephant ears group, plant and leaf sizes are highly variable, some are petite and low-growing others are gargantuan and towering, achieving heights of five to ten feet. Whatever their size elephant ears are hugely unappealing to animal pests large and small.
  • For drama, place huge pots of elephant ears right into the garden where they become vertical accents amidst the other plants. Grouped pots of large elephant ears are also versatile tools for exterior décor on patios, decks and balconies.
  • At season’s end, in frost-free zones, leave plants to carry on in the garden. In colder areas, treat the tender bulbs as annuals or save indoors to grow again the following season.

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Article source: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/4/prweb9927073.htm

Municipal Art Society Launches Design Challenge for Penn Station, Madison …


NEW YORK—The Municipal Art Society (MAS) of New York has launched a design challenge for a new Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. As part of the challenge, four New York design firms will re-envision both spaces with a public unveiling of proposed plans slated for May 29.

The four firms participating in the challenge include Santiago Calatrava, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, SHoP Architects and SOM. Each firm will share their plans at the public May 29th event at 242 West 41st Street. The event will be open to the public but registration is required at www.mas.org.

“Consistent with our long-history of advocating for bold and ambitious approaches to New York City’s challenges — and a commitment to enhancing livability in New York — we have invited some of the best design firms in the world to help us re-think Penn Station and Madison Square Garden creating a world class train station and a world class arena,” said Vin Cipolla, president of MAS.

When the plans for Madison Square Garden and Penn Station were originated in 1963 by architect Charles Luckman, approximately 200,000 people per day were using Penn Station. Today, the station moves 640,000 people daily.

Article source: http://nreionline.com/new-york/municipal-art-society-launches-design-challenge-penn-station-madison-square-garden

Architectural Digest Home Design Show: Kitchen/Garden/Floor

Posted on: 9:00 am, April 6, 2013, by , updated on: 09:53am, April 6, 2013

Article source: http://wnep.com/2013/04/06/architectural-digest-home-design-show-kitchengardenfloor/