by Troy Bishopp

MORRISVILLE, NY – “If you want a child’s mind to grow, you must first plant a seed.” That’s the premise for a new greenhouse which literally sprouted up behind the Madison County Cornell Cooperative Extension office complex on Eaton Street.

The Mad4Gardening Greenhouse took root as a result of a grant project written by CCE Madison County 4-H staff and funded by the Madison County Rural Poverty Fund through the Central New York Community Foundation. The greenhouse will kick off many programs which will help increase horticultural knowledge and agricultural literacy in Madison County for youth and their families through hands-on programming that “digs in” for growth in both plants and minds.

“The greenhouse was built through a partnership with SUNY Morrisville. Although we received the grant and bought the greenhouse, we didn’t have the staff capacity or expertise to build the greenhouse,” said 4-H Subject Educator Tess Southern. In talking with CCE Madison County board member Dave Rogers and President of SUNY Morrisville, an idea germinated.

Mad4Gardening greenhouse cultivates beneficial youth gardening opportunities

The greenhouse frame takes shape. Photo by Troy Bishopp

“Dave made the connection to SUNY Morrisville’s Assistant Professor of Residential Construction, Michael Gridley, who runs the construction program. He and his students volunteered a few days at the end of the semester to build the structure, including prep work to ensure the foundation was level. It was good, practical experience for them that made a big difference for us and our new programming start-up,” said Southern. “It’s partnerships like this that make a difference in our community.”

“4-H connects youth to hands-on learning opportunities that help them to grow into competent, caring, contributing members of society. Gardening with youth encourages them to eat healthier, get moderate exercise, build a sense of confidence, relieve stress and positively impact their mood and psychological well-being,” said new CCE Madison County Executive Director Larkin Podsiedlik. “Our staff will be offering 4-H programming through the upcoming Mad4Gardening Club as well as learning opportunities through other existing CCE Madison programs and events such as Seed to Supper and Ag in the Classroom.”

To learn more about CCE Madison County initiatives visit