SCC85: Consumer Horticulture Extension, Research, and Education Coordinating Committee

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Active

SCC85: Consumer Horticulture Extension, Research, and Education Coordinating Committee

Duration: 10/01/2016 to 09/30/2021

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

Consumer horticulture (CH) and the biological and social sciences upon which it is built, connect people and plants in a variety of beneficial ways (Bauske et al., 2014).  It encompasses a broad spectrum of non-commercial plant and landscape activities. It includes residential cultivation of both interior and exterior herbaceous and woody ornamental plants and gardening of annual and perennial edible crop plants.

CH influences environmental sustainability by impacting urban and rural water, waste management, and soil health (Carey et al., 2013; Zhou, 2014).  Gardens provide many ecological services. They conserve biodiversity, produce food, improve soil health, improve water quality, cycle nutrients, create cooler microclimates, and sequester carbon (Lin et al., 2015; Lovell and Taylor, 2013; Wilde et al., 2015).

CH affects human health and well-being by providing improved nutrition, exercise, stress relief, and attention restoration (Hall and Dickson, 2011; Kaplan 1995; Kuo and Sullivan 2001). Additionally, CH encourages socialization, leadership, and education through community gardening and the educational impact of public gardens.

The audience for CH is expansive. In 2014, approximately 66% of American consumers had either a lawn, garden, or used containers for plant production (Garden Writers Association, n.d.). Even when narrowed to home and community food gardening, the audience is immense. In 2008, 31% of all U.S. households (an estimated 36 million households) participated in food gardening (National Gardening Association, 2009) and the number increases annually (Butterfield, 2013).  This broad cross-section of the U.S. population includes all ages, education levels, income levels, marital statuses, household sizes, genders, and regional locations.

The wide reach of CH has created a diverse group of stakeholders. The group includes the gardening public, the green industry, environmental and institutional organizations, public health agencies, academicians, and a range of retail businesses which create and sell goods and services to the gardening public.

Land-grant universities across the country link plant and soil sciences, economics, nutrition, and health research with Extension education programs reaching a wide range of audiences. CH stakeholders also include 95,000 Extension Master Gardener (EMG) volunteers in the United States and Canada who deliver research-based education to the gardening public for Extension programs nationally (Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, 2009).

Despite public interest, commercial value, and the potential human health and environmental benefits of CH, state and federal support are minimal.  Few resources are dedicated to CH research, education, and extension. Few CH specialists have extension appointments that include research responsibilities or receive support from research teams.

The lack of focused research and funding hinders the ability of CH researchers and educators to address current needs and leverage the tremendous potential of consumer horticulture to benefit human and environmental health and well-being.

This Southern Coordinating Committee (SCC) will serve as a focal point to support and implement academic components of the National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture’s Strategic Plan (NICHSP). The long-term goal of this SCC is to develop collaboration among CH and allied researchers and extension specialists with the goal of creating and sharing educational materials and investigating the human and environmental impacts of gardening. 


  1. Foster the development of the NICHSP, assuring that the plan has strong academic input
  2. Establish consumer horticulture research priorities that align with the NICHSP.
  3. Build a team of scientists and academicians that will facilitate planning for joint research and Extension activities.
  4. Create a mechanism for collaborative development of educational resources in the area of consumer horticulture

Procedures and Activities

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • The NICHSP will be completed and will engage members of academia, industry, and the general public.
  • Federal and private funding opportunities for consumer horticulture will increase and this SCC will serve to link collaborators to seek and attain this funding
  • White papers for the public on current key topics (climate change, carbon sequestration in residential landscapes, impacts of residential landscapes on water quality, youth horticulture, nutrition, etc.) will be written and developed
  • Educational resources regarding practices and benefits of home and community gardening will be identified and/or developed for use nationally.
  • Extension Master Gardener volunteers will become increasingly effective (as teachers and citizen scientists) as research and outreach objectives and tools are developed

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

The SCC will hold one face-to-face meeting annually and communicate four times a year by conference call.  In addition, a newsletter will be released to group members as needed


The executive committee will include a chair, chair-elect, and secretary.  This committee will be elected at the first meeting (face-to-face or virtual) of each federal fiscal year (after October 1) for a term of one year.  Unless otherwise noted, the secretary and chair-elect will assume responsibilities of the chair-elect and chair, respectively. 

The chair and chair-elect will call the meetings and set the agenda.  The secretary, or someone designated by the secretary in their absence, will compile and archive notes from each meeting and will, from time to time, prepare a newsletter with significant highlights or accomplishments from the group to be distributed to appropriate land-grant university staff throughout the southeastern U.S.

Current officers include:  Natalie Bumgarner, chair; Ellen Bauske, chair-elect, Sheri Dorn secretary, whose terms will shift on October 1, 2016.

Literature Cited

Bauske, E., G. Bachman, L.K. Bradley, K. Jeannette, A. Stoven O’Connor, and P.J. Bennett. 2014. Consumer horticulture outreach: communication challenges and solutions. HortTechnology 24:266-269.

Butterfield, B.  2013. New 2013 national gardening survey. 15 Jan. 2014. <>.

Carey, R.O., G.J. Hochmuth, C.J. Martinez, T.H. Boyer, M.D. Dukes, G.S. Toor, and J.L. Cisar. 2013. Evaluating nutrient impacts in urban watersheds: challenges and research opportunities.  Environmental Pollution 173:138-149.

Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service. 2009. 2009 Extension master gardener survey. 11 Nov. 2013. <>.

Garden Writers Association. n.d. Garden trend surveys. 2 Nov. 2015. <>

Hall, C.R. and M.W. Dickson.  2011.  Economic, environmental, and health/well-being benefits associated with green industry products and services: a review.  J. Environ. Hort. 29:96-103.

Kaplan, S. 1995. The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 15, 169-182.

Kuo, F.E., and W.C. Sullivan. 2001. Aggression and violence in the inner city: Effects of environment via mental fatigue. Environment and Behavior, 33, 543-571.

Lin, B.B., S.M. Philpott, and S. Jha.  2015.  The future of urban agriculture and biodiversity-ecosystem services: challenges and next steps.   Basic and Appl. Ecol. 16:189-201.

Lovell, S.T. and J.R. Taylor.  2013.  Supplying urban ecosystem services through multifunctional green infrastructure in the United States.  Landscape Ecol. 28:1447-1463.

National Gardening Association. 2009.   The impact of home and community gardening in America.  Scotts Miracle-Gro Company, Marysville, OH.

National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture. 2015. Growing a healthy world through the art and science of plants, gardens, and landscapes. 3 Nov. 2015. <>.

Wilde, H.D, K.J.K. Gandhi, and G. Colson. 2015. State of the science and challenges of breeding landscape plants with ecological function.  21 May 2015. <>.

Zhou, Q. 2014.  A review of sustainable urban drainages systems considering the climate change and urbanization impacts.  Water 6:976-992.


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

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