Harriet Becker

Cofounder, Board of Directors

(607) 319-4203

Harriet was born in California and spent most of her early life there. Her family lived in cities, where houses had small backyards, and they moved around quite a bit. The closest she ever got to gardening was noticing the faces on pansies and making doll food by mashing up the bright yellow pistils of calla lilies.

In college, Harriet majored in Psychology, but she took a lot of art classes along the way. In 1972, her husband Frank took a teaching job at Cornell in the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis and she was a potter. After their two children, Zoe and Miles were born her interests moved towards illustration. She became a volunteer in her kids’ elementary school and was involved in the early years of the Sciencenter scheduling their class visits and illustrating some of their posters.

When Harriet and Frank bought an old farmhouse in Ellis Hollow, flower gardens seemed like an essential addition. Their neighbor, Pat Ziegler, helped with a landscape plan and encouraged Harriet to take the Master Gardener course. After learning the difference between an annual and a perennial, gardening became a major focus in her life.

While on a sabbatical in California, Harriet heard Jane Taylor speak about the ¼ acre 4-H Children’s Garden she started in Lansing, Michigan. She was heading to Ithaca that summer, and was friends with Marcia Eames-Sheavly in the Horticulture Department at Cornell. A children’s garden connected all of Harriet's interests: children, art, and gardening.

During a conversation with Mary Alyce Kobler and Monika Roth later in the summer of 1997, they decided “why not a children’s garden in Ithaca?” She's been involved with the Garden ever since as a volunteer doing everything from taking photos, working on signs, being Board President, to treating Garden apprentices to cold watermelon on especially hot days.When not working on the Children’s Garden, her time is spent swimming, boating, walking our dog, traveling, and growing flowers in her own garden.