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  • Jennifer Jewell


FOODSCAPING - with Brie Arthur. Photo courtesy of Brie Arthur, all rights reserved.


Can you believe it is already back to school season? This week we look to what back to school means for our lifelong learning and plants.

We’re in conversation with members of Miami University of Ohio engaged with Miami’s Institute for Environment and Sustainability Masters of Environment program and their Institute for Food Farm to learn more about just a few of the ways plant and horticultural information are integrated into the daily life of Miami’s curriculum.

Ross Olson is the Coordinator of Miami’s Institute for Food Farm; Colin Valantino is an IES Grad Student doing a Summer Client Project "Practicum" with the Farm; Aisley Carpenter is a student worker at the Farm, and they are all with Cultivating Place this week to share more.

Miami University of Ohio is located within the traditional homelands of the Myaamia and Shawnee people. The University’s Institute for the Environment and Sustainability (or IES), directed by Dr. Jonathan Levy, is an umbrella organization for undergraduate and graduate education and research on the environment and sustainability.

In October of 2022, I had the great pleasure of spending a day learning more about and interacting with faculty, staff, and students at Miami getting a better understanding of the many ways plants and sustainable plant education is integrated into the campus and curriculum.

My day at Miami of Ohio, organized by Dr. Ann Rypstra, University Distinguished Professor of Biology, visiting many different horticultural and biological sciences programs included the Institute for Food Farm, under the direction of Charles Griffin; Miami’s Ecology Research Center (ERC), with Dr. Jonathan Bauer and several of his students and postdocs. The ERC is the field station focal point for ecological field research at Miami, providing a venue for educational opportunities for middle, high school, and university students; a class visit with Assistant Professor Sarah Dumyahn’s IES 471 interdisciplinary sustainability capstone course, for which I also visited a new interpretive Myaamia Tribe informed garden on campus; a visit to the greenhouse, used by a variety of students for research including Miami students working toward Botany Majors and Horticulture minors available through the dept of Biology, and finally a roundtable discussion with students from all of these programs hosted by the Hefner Natural History Museum – directed by Dr. Steve Sullivan.

It was an incredible day of cross-pollination and generative discussion about the profound richness and importance of these nuanced and varied pathways for learning and reintegrating our growing world.

Speaking of educational days – I have two days of visits and talks coming up in the Cincinnati, Ohio area that I am so thrilled about.

Thanks to the invitation and organization of Cincinnati Public Radio, WVXU, (which airs Cultivating Place Saturday mornings!), The Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati, and the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art & Plannin , I will be spending Wednesday Sept 6th in conversation with the horticultural and ecological programs at the University of Cincinnati, including a free lecture open to the public for the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning at 4:30 pm that day, and an evening lecture at the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati at 6:30 on Thursday September 7th, in advance of their annual Fall Native Plant Festival and sale happening on Saturday the 9th. The Thursday lecture is sold out but media partner WVXU in Cincinnati still has 20 tickets to give away – tune into the station's social media accounts for more information on these. Information on registering for the Wednesday talk at the Univ of Cincinnati can be found in this week’s episode show notes or at

You can follow Miami University and their Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ecology Resource Center Field Station, and the Institute for Food Farm on line:

and the Institute for Food Farm on Instagram:

HERE IS THIS WEEK'S TRANSCRIPT by Doulos Transcription Service:

08-24-23 CP - Back to School - Ohio Univ - final
Download PDF • 154KB


you might also enjoy these Best of CP programs in our archive:

JOIN US again next week, when we continue out back to school theme in conversation with Chad Manley and Landscape Architecture students from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and their design studio titled Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaw. It is unique and compelling plant and landscape education emphasizing, as Chad describes, and interest “ in both ancient and novel approaches to living with fire, and as landscape-designers seeking much deeper connections with ecology, we’re very interested in the ways in which specific communities and species relate to fire throughout their life-cycles. That’s next week right here - listen in.


Speaking of Plants and Place is on summer vacation - back soon!


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supporting initiatives that empower women and help preserve the planet through the intersection of environmental advocacy, social justice, and creativity.

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This fall, the Conservancy brings us Isabella Tree, the author of The Book of Wilding, to discuss how spectacularly nature can bounce back if we only give it the chance through wilding. And what comes is not just wildlife in super-abundance, but also solutions to the other environmental crises we face. The speaking tour takes Tree to New York City on September 29 for the Garden Futures Summit and then to Middleburg, VA on October 2 and St. Louis, MO on October 4. For tickets and more information, go to garden conservancy dot org slash education.



Thinking out loud this week:

I really want you to track carefully here the many layers of plant education that we’ve just hear about- starting with parents and grandparents, moving to the LANDSCAPE’s that surround us, and then to teachers and professors whose passions inspire ours, and onto our undergraduate and graduate pathways.

Why do I think this is important? I think it’s this, and I have certainly said this before, we are never too late to start learning about and loving plants, and how plants support everything else we love to continue to learn about; also, there is no point in life, it which we do not have plenty more to learn, and plenty more room to be inspired by plants and learning.

And the recurring themes of the satisfaction and illumination that comes from being in relationship with plants, learning about them, with them, from them.

And just how much a plant can grow in in a short amount of time, and likewise how much of humans can grow as a result in that exact period of time.

This alone highlights the importance of presenting students from the very young to the very old with as much diversity of information and experience and ways of contributing the world through gardening as we can.




Cultivating Place is a co-production of North State Public Radio, a service of Cap Radio, licensed to Chico State Enterprises. Cultivating place is made possible in part listeners just like you through the support button at the top right-hand corner of every page at Cultivating

The CP team includes producer and engineer Matt Fidler, with weekly tech and web support from Angel Huracha, and this summer we're joined by communications intern Sheila Stern. We’re based on the traditional and present homelands of the Mechoopda Indian Tribe of the Chico Rancheria. Original theme music is by Ma Muse, accompanied by Joe Craven and Sam Bevan.

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1 Comment

Mark Millin
Mark Millin
Jun 30

The Institute for Food and Farm at Miami University of Ohio offers great back-to-school programs focused on sustainable agriculture and food systems. It's inspiring to see educational initiatives that connect students with real-world farming practices.For those working on academic projects, especially in engineering, check out for some valuable ideas and guidance. What are your thoughts on integrating practical farming experiences into education? Peace and love!

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