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EARTH Center Open House Offers Fun for Whole Family, Marks 100 Years of Cooperative Extension

David Smela

Sunday, July 27, 2014 • 12:00am

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ  --The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County will host its Garden Field Day/Open House from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16 at the EARTH Center located in Davidson’s Mill Pond Park, 42 Riva Ave., South Brunswick.

 The day will be filled with activities for the whole family, from garden tours to walking tours and presentations on Organic Gardening and Landscaping, Compost Tea and container gardening. Kids can meet MC Blue, the recycling robot.  Also on display will be alternative energy vehicles used by the county and local residents.

 “Garden Field Day is great day of fun for the whole family at one of Middlesex County’s most beautiful parks,” said Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios. “I want to thank both the Cooperative Extension and the Parks Office for making this special day a reality. They also work together to beautify this park, and to make it a destination for fun and education.

Also part of the event will be the “Greatest of the Garden” competition. Gardeners should bring their biggest or most outstanding home grown produce to win recognition. Attendees are encouraged to bring their homegrown entries for categories such as: biggest tomato, biggest cucumber, biggest squash, biggest watermelon, longest gourd, and for all vegetables: best Likeness to a Celebrity or Historical Figure.

 “Garden Field Day attendees also can enjoy samples of locally grown produce courtesy of Middlesex County farmers, while enjoying the sounds of local musicians,” said Freeholder Kenneth Armwood, Chair of the County’s Business Development and Education Committee. 

 This year’s celebration will take on special significance because it is the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which officially created the national Cooperative Extension System.

 Cooperative Extension is a unique educational partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the nation’s land-grant universities that extends research-based knowledge through a state-by-state network of extension educators.  Since President Woodrow Wilson signed the Act into law in May 1914, the Cooperative Extension has stimulated innovative research and vital educational programs for youth and adults through progressive information delivery systems that improve lives.

 “Rutgers Cooperative Extension provides vital services to our state’s farmers, provides educational programs on food, nutrition and health, urban and community outreach, 4-H youth development and economic and workforce development,” said Freeholder Director Rios. “It provides services that can benefit all Middlesex County residents.”

 

Each state’s government had to accept the federal act before it could be implemented in its jurisdiction.  In New Jersey, the provisions of the act were accepted by the state legislature in 1915. The Trustees of Rutgers College were authorized to receive the funds and to organize and conduct agricultural extension work in the College of Agriculture (now the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences).

 Specifically, the Act stated its purpose as aiding “in diffusing among the people of the United States useful and practical information on subjects relating to agriculture, uses of solar energy with respect to agriculture, home economics, and rural energy, and to encourage the application of the same. . .”

 During the Garden Field Day, the Extension Agriculture Department as well as Rutgers Master Gardeners will offer advice on horticulture and environmental stewardship while guiding visitors through various teaching gardens and learning projects. Examples of their work include the Children’s Garden with Green Roof playhouse, an enormous vegetable display garden and the popular Butterfly House.

 Many exhibitors who collaborate with Middlesex County Extension throughout the year also will share their programs and accomplishments. For more information call 732-398-5268 or e-mail david.smela@co.middlesex.nj.us.  Rain date for the event will be Aug. 17. For information on Middlesex County’s Extension office visit www.co.middlesex.nj.us/extensionservices

 In New Jersey, Cooperative Extension is part of the Rutgers University - New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station located at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and is supported by funds from county, state and federal governments as well as contracts and grants, private donations and service fees.

 For more information on Rutgers Cooperative Extension visit https://njaes.rutgers.edu/extension/ and for more information on the 100th Anniversary of Rutgers Cooperative Extension visit https://njaes.rutgers.edu/extension100years/

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