•  Pathways Professions Conference - October 12th. 
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  • Dean Taylor receiving a USDA Certificate from the USDA Undersecretary, Catherine Woteki
  • Fall 2015 Graduate! 
  • Famu Research & Extension Center in Quincy
  •   CAFS planting a tree on Earth Day at Blanche Ely High School. 
  •  Experience CAFS!
  • Coming in August 2016 

Cooperative Extension 

Cassel Gardner ‘Doctoring’ Agriculture Sine 1990 at FAMU

By Vonkeisha Gibson

Cassel Gardner, Ph.D. is an Agronomist in the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences at FAMU. He has been at FAMU since 1990 balancing three hats in cooperative extension, research and teaching. From an early age growing up in Jamaica, he observed his late father who was a ‘small farmer’ as he carried out agricultural practices growing and harvesting crops. “It was common practice for parents to want their children to become professionals such as medical doctor or lawyer,” he said. Instead of becoming a traditional medical doctor, he became a doctor in agriculture. “Often, people do not go see a medical doctor until they get sick. As an agricultural scientist I can contribute to providing healthy food for people which will prevent many illnesses,” Gardner said. Gardner enjoys the discipline of agriculture, and was able to better understand the skills his father practiced through the scientific knowledge acquired from his college education. Farmers and scientists work together to practice agriculture sustainably. The term “sustainable agriculture” is relatively new but Gardner said his father and many others practiced organic agriculture, because they never used fertilizers or pesticides. “My job is to provide good food for people,” he said. Courses taught by Gardner in CAFS include Principles of Field Crop Science, Agronomy Seminar, Forage Management, Soil and Water Conservation and Soil and Environmental Quality. Principles of Field Crop Science, is his favorite course to teach, which except for this year he have been teaching since 1993. His research includes nutrient management to protect water quality and introduction of exotic or alternative crops to benefit small farmers in Florida. Some of these crops have become commercial enterprises grown by farmers, earning them great income. One of these crops, the Scotch Bonnet hot pepper for example, highly used in the food industry also with potential for use in the pharmaceutical industry, have become a good income earner for farmers. Other crops introduced by Gardner include Sorrel, Pigeon pea, and Caribbean pumpkin. Gardner said he has stuck around FAMU for so long because he gets the chance to witness the educational development wellbeing of the less fortunate among us “Working at FAMU presented an opportunity for me to make a difference in people lives and work more intimately with people of my race,” he said. Gardner is currently working in sustainable agriculture focusing on growing crops without excessive amounts of fertilizer and starting a ‘Medicinal Plant Program at FAMU. He is currently writing a proposal to seek funding for the program. He is working with the College of Pharmacy, to move forward with the program. Gardner will research how to grow these plants in this climatic region while Scientists in the College of Pharmacy will focus on determination and use of plant medicinal properties. This collaborative project may be his last big project before retirement.