Grow Your Own – November 2014

Are you familiar with how the Duval County Extension Service was created, and when? This is a good time to learn because statewide networks of Extension Services all over the United States are celebrating their 100th anniversary this year.

In the mid-19th century the US Government established land grant colleges in each state. These colleges, focusing on agriculture and mechanical arts, were funded by endowments established by the sale of large amounts of land. Florida’s first land grant college, Florida Agricultural College, was established in Lake City in 1884. About 20 years later the Florida Legislature combined the Florida Agricultural College with three other state schools to form the University of the State of Florida, which was relocated to Gainesville. It was renamed the University of Florida in 1909. The Smith-Lever Act of 1914 set up the Cooperative Extension Service, partnering each state’s land grant college with the US Department of Agriculture to provide scientific knowledge and expertise to its citizens through educational programs.

Affiliated with the University of Florida and in partnership with the City of Jacksonville, the Duval County Extension Office provides a wide variety of services and educational opportunities to county residents. Are you interested in the trees that grow and enhance our community? Check out Urban Forestry at There you’ll also find out about the many other areas of expertise offered by your Duval County Extension Office: Commercial Horticulture, which provides educational workshops and expertise to pest control, lawn and landscaping, nursery, and golf course industry professionals; 4-H Youth Development, which in partnership with local businesses and volunteers, serves approximately 8,500 local youth through school enrichment, clubs and summer camps; Food, Nutrition and Health, which provides education on nutrition, safe food handling, and reducing the risk of lifestyle-related diseases; and Lawn and Garden, which provides horticulture information to homeowners through published articles and newsletters, and through its Urban Gardening, Florida Yards and Neighborhoods, Florida Backyard Wildlife Habitat, and Master Gardener programs. Other areas to check out on the website include Family Life Education, Housing and Home Environment, Money Management, and the Canning Center, which is the only extension facility of its kind left in the state.

Additional expertise offered by your Duval County Extension Office includes education about Agriculture and Small Farms. Later this month the Florida Farm Bureau will celebrate the more than 40,000 commercial Florida farmers and the nearly 300 different commodities that are produced in our state during Farm-City Week. This is part of a nationwide tribute to and recognition of the contributions and accomplishments of farmers and ranchers who help bring food to our tables. Farm-City Week is normally celebrated the week before Thanksgiving with local events such as luncheons, farm tours, and educational displays, depending on which county you’re in.

In this 100th anniversary year of the Cooperative Extension Service, familiarity with the many services offered by the Duval County Extension Office may help you and your family find information you need to improve your home, take care of your family, manage your money, and grow your own food.

About Aline Clement

Aline Clement is a master gardener with the Duval County Extension Service and the University of Florida/IFAS.