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Cornell Biologists Grow, Donate Plant Kits to Local Families

Margaret Frank, faculty
Ithaca, New York
Woman holding a tray of seedlings in cup, wearing a facemark and gloves. Provided

For several weeks, nearly 1,200 seedlings grew in rows of paper cups covering the surfaces of Margaret Frank’s backyard greenhouse. As an assistant professor of plant biology in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Frank is used to working with dozens of tomato plants in her on-campus lab. These potted plants, however, were destined for another experiment. Thanks to a collaboration with Ithaca Children’s Garden (ICG), the Frank Lab has helped create almost 1,000 at-home gardening kits for local families. With additional support from Ithaca City School District’s Farm to Table program, the kits were delivered on May 8 along with meals to more than 700 children in the district. “When we were asked to stay home in March, I was inspired by all of the community-organized projects that were taking off in the Ithaca area,” Frank said. “I figured that the best way for my lab to contribute to these efforts was to offer at-home, hands-on STEM activities with plants.”

In collaboration with ICG, all six members of Frank’s lab have contributed: everything from filling the little pots with soil to developing the activities. Each kit includes a live seedling, cucumber and bean seeds to germinate and dissect, and a sheet of guidelines so families can access the information even without the internet.

Read the full story by Jana Wiegand, Cornell Chronicle