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‘Garden Delights’ a local TV hit


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent 

  Susan Howington has been a familiar face to some in Henry County for nearly two decades, but she is getting recognized in the community more often than ever these days.

Susan Howington, County Extension Coordinator on the set of her monthly cable program, Garden Delights.         Special photo

  She is the host of “Garden Delights,” a monthly program produced by and for Henry County’s government access channel (Charter cable channel 14). The program can also be viewed on the county’s web site, Previous episodes are archived there for on-demand viewing as well.

  “It’s been very beneficial to us as far as marketing who we are and what we do,” she said of the broadcast.

  Howington runs the Henry County Extension Office, which is headquartered in offices at Heritage Park, in the Henry County Parks and Recreation Department building. She leads a staff that totals nine people in a department that is a collaboration between the University of Georgia and Henry County government, funded in part by both organizations.

  Its mission is “to extend lifelong learning to Henry County citizens through unbiased, research-based education in agriculture, the environment, communities, youth and families,” according to its web site.

  The UGA Cooperative Extension is a partnership that provides the community with education and resources in three program areas: agriculture and natural resources; 4-H youth and development; and family and consumer science.

  A Henry County resident, Howington started at the county’s Extension Office in 1994 after a few years working at the Rockdale County office. She coordinates a number of program throughout the year in a variety of areas, such as child care, food safety, nutrition and wellness, and consumer skills.

  She trains restaurant managers regularly to help them achieve ServSafe certification, which is now required of at least one manager in every restaurant. She also does a great deal of instruction on food preservation, including canning and freezing.

  Much of her work is also done over the phone, as residents from Henry County and across the state find their way to ask her about various topics, such as mold and mildew problems and how to handle them.

  Programs offered by the Extension Office are advertised throughout the community via newspapers, social media, and word of mouth. They are typically offered at the Heritage Park office, such as the monthly Lunch and Learn events, the most recent of which covered the subject of being gluten-free.

  “Garden Delights” began nearly a year ago when Howington sent some material about Extension Service programs to Julie Hoover-Ernst, former head of the county’s communications department, who quickly asked her if she would like to do a regular television show. As Howington had done TV work previously, she was receptive to the idea – but she did not want to do it alone.

  “I’m always looking for ways to involve my whole staff, so I asked Frank if he could do something,” she said, referring to Frank Hancock, who appears on “Garden Delights” each month as well. The two of them have worked out a familiar format that is repeated for each topic.

  For instance, if a particular fruit – say, blueberries – is the subject of a broadcast, Howington talks about its nutritional aspects and issues relating to purchase and storage of the fruit. Hancock will cover information about the berries themselves, such as how to prune a blueberry bush or use proper fertilization for its growth. Howington will demonstrate a recipe using the fruit, and Hancock gets to taste the finished product as they wrap up the program.

  Ten episodes have been produced so far, and they have gotten plenty of viewer feedback, Howington said.

  On the most recent program, she held up a copy of a book on canning and food preservation titled “So Easy To Preserve.” She talked about that book for a minute or two, and after the program aired someone called the office looking to purchase the book.

  Howington said that she and Hancock have run into a number of people in the community who say that they have seen them on TV, and they get a lot of calls at the office with questions relating to the topics covered on the shows.

  In addition to an archive of past “Garden Delights” episodes, the county web site has a page dedicated to the Extension Office, and Howington said one of her staff members does a good job of keeping it updated regularly.

  The Henry County Extension Office is located at 97 Lake Dow Road in McDonough, just off Hwy. 81 next to the Jason T. Harper Event Center. For more information, call 770-288-8421 or send an email to uge2151@



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