What Is a Local Extension Service?
When it comes to finding gardening solutions specific to your area, most experts will direct you to something called your local extension service. What exactly, you may ask, is your local extension service? The Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (or CREES) is a national educational network funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Each state has an extension at its land grant university and often has other regional offices.
Research and Information Services
Cooperative extension services study and provide information on everything affecting agriculture and related businesses in their immediate area. Pennsylvania's apple country, for instance, depends on the honeybee for pollination. The local extension is researching ways to combat the recent decimation of the honeybee population in an effort to save this $40 billion industry. Their studies help manage our forests, cut the costs of organic farming, and educate children and adults about nutrition and the environment.
Food and Water Supply Protection
CREES is also actively involved in bio-security, developing new and better ways to protect the security of our food and water supply from toxins and diseases.
Local Information You Can Use
Because it's local, your extension service and its Web site are often better sources for information than any general garden manual. Find out how to fight pests, feed your soil, get rid of invasive plants and protect your trees from disease. If you know which plants work best where you live, you can garden greener and spend less time at it.