Bob Beyfuss sits next to ginseng plants

Bob Beyfuss, the poet of gardening, on Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley

Episode 112: Bob Beyfuss

Robert Layton Beyfuss (1950-2023) was known as the ‘poet of gardening’ but he wore many hats. A longtime educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia and Greene Counties (retiring in 2009), Bob was also a well-known columnist, widely sharing his knowledge and love of gardening. In addition to being an Internationally Certified Arborist, he is perhaps best remembered as having been a passionate expert on the cultivation of ginseng.

His ginseng journey began at Cornell University where he pursued a Masters degree in agriculture, after earning a Bachelors degree in botany from Rutgers University. The title of his Master’s Project was “The History, Use and Cultivation of American Ginseng.” American ginseng ( Panax quinquefolius) is perhaps the most valuable non-timber forest crop in Eastern North America.

During the course of his career, Bob authored several booklets and fact sheets about the growing of ginseng and mushrooms, including “American Ginseng Production in NY State,” “The Practical Guide to Growing Ginseng,” “Ginseng Production in Woodlots,” and “Companion Planting,” among others. He was also an advocate for forest farming as both a conservation solution and an economic opportunity.

Outgoing, opiniated, thoughtful, inspirational, and listener, are some of the adjectives that described Bob. He was also an avid outdoorsman and equally loved the time he spent turkey hunting, fishing, foraging, and gardening in New York, as well as the time he spent fishing, and playing softball. In more recent years, Bob split his time between his homes in Schoharie County, NY and Florida (near his children and grandchildren).

Bob Beyfuss’ influence and impact on the ginseng industry are immeasurable. His own ginseng activities in New York State and his extensive cooperative extension activities outside the world of ginseng earned him, in 2021, declared a ‘State Treasure of New York”.

Anna Plattner, ginseng grower and educator from Wild Hudson Valley, joins Nature Calls: Conversations from the Hudson Valley in a tribute to Bob with this episode being aired on the anniversary of his birth Anna and her husband, Justin Wexler, manage a large-scale agroforestry farm in upstate New York that uses innovative methods to cultivate American ginseng in a way that benefits both humans and the Earth.

Hosts: Jean Thomas and Teresa Golden

Guest: Anna Plattner

Production Support: Linda Aydlett, Deven Connelly, Teresa Golden, Xandra Powers, Annie Scibienski



Xandra Powers
Community Horticulture Coordinator
518-828-3346 x106

Last updated March 15, 2024