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GWI Kurtz-Fernhout Software
Developers of custom software and educational simulations.
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Garden with Insight
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About the Garden with Insight project and authors

About the project

The Garden with Insight project had its origin in June 1990, when one of us, Paul Fernhout, had an idea that a computer simulation might help people understand how to garden in a more sustainable way in their own backyards. He started to work on the project part-time, and continued it on and off, while doing computer consulting and going to graduate school in Ecology. Then he met the other one of us, Cynthia Kurtz, and we got married. Cynthia, being also interested in gardening and ecology, started working on the project a year later. Together we have put in over six person-years of work on the project.

The formal goals of the project are:

  • to help people garden more effectively and with greater enjoyment by gaining a greater insight into what is going on in their garden by using an open-ended simulation, and
  • to help people learn to garden with less environmental impact by helping them explore the long-term implications of their gardening decisions.

Garden with Insight has been developed on both the Macintosh and Windows platforms, though the program ended up in Windows only for this version. The project has included work in several development environments, including Smalltalk, Symantec C++, Borland C++, MetroWorks C++, Visual Basic, and finally Borland Delphi, in which the program is written now. (Paul wrote some translation programs to convert portions of source code from one language to another.) The name of the program went from "The Garden Game" to "Garden Simulator" to what it is now.

We have worked as a team on most design phases of the project. Paul has done most of the low-level coding, the general architecture, the undo/redo system, the file system, the graphical display, and the 3D turtle engine. Cynthia has done most of the translation of the EPIC model, the flowering/fruiting submodel, the plant drawing algorithm, the various window designs, and the artwork, music, and documentation.

About the authors

Both Paul Fernhout and Cynthia Kurtz received their M.A. degrees from the Ecology program at SUNY Stony Brook. Paul's B.A. in Psychology is from Princeton University, and he has done some Ph.D. graduate work there in Operations Research and Statistics. Cynthia's B.S. in Biology is from Clarion University of Pennsylvania where she also studied art and writing. Paul has been programming for almost twenty years, Cynthia for nearly ten. Paul has developed three nationally marketed software products. Cynthia has written several technical manuals for software products. Both authors have enjoyed gardening for years.

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Updated: May 4, 1998. Questions/comments on site to
Copyright © 1998 Paul D. Fernhout & Cynthia F. Kurtz.