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Plantations dedicates new ultra-green welcome center

From Oct. 29, 2010 Cornell Chronicle article:

“With its light-filled atrium and lobby surrounded by walls of windows and skylights, the Cornell Plantations’ Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center was dedicated Oct. 28, culminating a decade of building and renovation projects at the Plantations. …

“The [LEED-certified] building offers interpretive exhibits in the atrium, a reception desk, fully accessible restrooms, a gift shop and small café (which will open in early 2011). The second floor, accessible by stairs and a low-energy elevator, houses a small conference room, kitchenette and a 100-seat multipurpose room that can be divided into two classrooms.

“Also, a new parking area and tour bus drop-off zone were built along Plantations Road in front of the center. The parking area was partly constructed with Cornell Structural Soil, which allows tree roots to penetrate beneath the pavement. Shade trees planted nearby are part of Plantations’ urban tree collection. Adjacent to the parking area, a bioswale and rain garden filters pollutants from parking lot runoff before the water drains into Beebe Lake.”

Read the whole article.

Recent videos

I’ve been overwhelmed lately with videos featuring Department faculty, staff, students and programs. Normally I’d feature them individually. But instead I’m clearing out the backlog.

Assistant professor Justine Vanden Heuvel is featured in a video from the President’s Council of Cornell Women. PCCW is a group of highly accomplished alumnae working to enhance the involvement of women students, faculty, staff, and alumnae as leaders within Cornell University and its many communities.

In 2008, Justine received a PCCW Affinito-Stewart Grant to support her work predicting flavors and aromas in wine (“Creating Grapevine Canopy Exposure Maps to Predict Fruit and Wine Quality”). Justine has developed computational tools that can be used in the vineyard midway through the growing season to help predict what the flavors and aromas will be in the final product, the wine, which she explains in this CornellCast video.

Here are some more recent videos:

And finally, in CU in the Kitchen: Fall Harvest Dinner with Steve Miller, Cornell Senior Executive Chef Steven Miller showcases preparations for the 5th Annual Fall Harvest Dinner, featuring local, regional, and New York State produce, dairy products, beef, and much more. Click on video to right to view excerpt where Miller extols the virtues of sweet corn and potatoes from the Homer C. Thompson Research Farm in Freeville, N.Y.

Broccoli for the East

Team members evaluate broccoli varieties in Albion, N.Y. From left: Mary Van Ryn, broccoli breeder for Bejo Seed Co.; Thomas Bjorkman, assistant professor of horticulture; and Christy Hoepting, extension educator with the Cornell Vegetable Program.

Team members evaluate broccoli varieties in Albion, N.Y. From left: Mary Van Ryn, broccoli breeder for Bejo Seed Co.; Thomas Bjorkman, assistant professor of horticulture; and Christy Hoepting, extension educator with the Cornell Vegetable Program.

From October 25 Cornell Chronicle article, CU-led team aims to develop $100M eastern broccoli industry.

“[A] Cornell-led team of industry and academic researchers seeks to develop a $100 million broccoli industry on the East Coast over the next 10 years with a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“The $3.2 million grant, with an additional $1.7 million in matching contributions from participating companies that will work on the project at their own expense, will help develop broccoli germplasm to suit eastern conditions, recruit farmers and organize networks for growers and distributors. Recent developments in broccoli breeding have made plants more tolerant to eastern heat and humidity, a major obstacle to growing broccoli in the East. The project will increase eastern U.S. production from isolated pockets to a regional year-round market for eastern consumers.

“‘Our assembled team of breeders, production specialists and market developers have the breeding stocks and expertise to develop an eastern broccoli industry,’ said Thomas Bjorkman, Cornell associate professor of horticulture and the project’s principal investigator. …

“‘We are simultaneously developing a grower base, distribution network and market,’ said Bjorkman. ‘Trying to do one part at a time is sure to fail. It is only by having a comprehensive team such as ours that we can make all the parts of the industry work,’ he added.”

Read the whole article.

Plant sciences chili cook-off Nov. 19

chili_cookoffVia grad student Cheni Filios:

It’s time to pull out grandma’s secret chili recipe because the Sixth Annual Battle of the Plant Sciences Chili Cook-Off Fundraiser is coming soon!

Will your department emerge triumphant as the chili champions? Or can’t you stand the heat?

The Battle of the Plant Sciences Chili Cook-Off will be in Emerson 135 on Friday, November 19 from 3 to 6 p.m. The Departments of Horticulture, Plant Biology, Plant Breeding, and Plant Pathology should assemble their best chili chefs in three categories:

  1. Meat
  2. Vegetarian
  3. Wild-Card (contains at least one non-traditional chili ingredient)

Students, Faculty, and Staff are all welcome to participate! Email chili entries to Cheni ( to enter the contest, including the following info:

  • names of cooks
  • department
  • category
  • name of chili

Registration deadline is Friday, November 12. We only have room for 25 chili entrants–so don’t delay registering!

There will be prizes for the winners of each chili category. The Cook-Off will also feature a door prize raffle with prizes from local businesses!

Plentiful pumpkins

plentiful pumpkins this yearFrom Pumped-up pumpkin crop –
Near-perfect weather this summer allowed farmers to grow a plentiful supply of gourds
, Buffalo News, Oct. 21.

“New York’s pumpkins are plentiful.

“That’s what state agriculture experts and local farmers are saying, just one year after a wet summer made for a spooky climate for last fall’s pumpkins. …

“‘We were pretty close to having almost ideal conditions,’ said Stephen Reiners, associate professor of horticulture at Cornell University. ‘[It was] much better this year. They’ve been such good size, good color, [it’s been a] good yield.’

“Last summer’s heavy rains and cool, cloudy weather created a bad climate for pollination, which Reiners said is key to pumpkin growth.”

Read the whole article.

David Wolfe on NPR, in The Conservationist

David Wolfe

Climate Change Changes Fall Colors – In an interview on NPR Boston affiliate WBUR’s Here and Now (October 19), the Department of Horticulture’s David Wolfe explains how climate change is affecting fall color — and ecosystems.

Journey to a Future Climate – Exploring climate change in the Adirondacks – In feature article by Wolfe in the October 2010 issue of the New York State Conservationist magazine, he, plant ecologist Jonathan Comstock and legendary Adirondack naturalist Jerry Jenkins explore the Adirondacks and how climate change will affect the region. (.pdf version has more pictures.)

Undergrads pick peppers, sample soil

Instructor Frank Rossi (front right) and HORT 1101 students and peppers at Homer C. Thompson Research Farm in Freeville, N.Y.  Photo by Betsy Leonard.

Instructor Frank Rossi (front right) and HORT 1101 students and peppers at Homer C. Thompson Research Farm in Freeville, N.Y. Photo by Betsy Leonard.

On Friday, October 8, students in Hort 1101 spent their lab session touring the Homer C. Thompson Vegetable Research Farm, Freeville, N.Y., and then pitched in to pick nearly two tons of sweet peppers for donation to Food Bank of the Southern Tier.

“As primarily a survey course for freshman interested in Plant Sciences, Agricultural Sciences and Viticulture and Enology majors, visiting the research farm was an eye-opening experience,” says Frank Rossi, the course’s instructor.

In addition to the tour and pepper picking, farm staff taught the students about soil sampling. Then the students sampled the 30-acre parcel of the farm certified organic by NOFA-New York. Technician Betsy Leonard talked to them about the research trials there aimed at optimizing vegetable production systems for the Northeast.

“It was an excellent hands-on learning experience that engaged the student’s minds, bodies and spirits,” adds Rossi. “Many of them commented how it gave them a sense of pride knowing they picked 3,800 pounds of peppers for the food bank.”

Reiners recognized for outstanding Extension work

Steve Reiners

CALS Dean Kathryn Boor announced the 2010 CALS Research & Extension and Core Value Staff Awards October 15. Among them, Stephen Reiners shares the “Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Extension/Outreach – Individual” with Peter Smallidge in the Department of Natural Resources.

The CALS Research and Extension Awards are intended to recognize a broad range of accomplishments contributing to the realization of the CALS vision, “To be the preeminent college for research, teaching and extension of agriculture and life sciences, developing leaders to address the global challenges of the 21st century.”

The awards will be presented during a 4:00-6:00 p.m. reception November 8 in G10 Biotech. Hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be provided.

Congratulations Steve!

Update (from 11/10/2010 Cornell Chronicle article):

“Stephen Reiners, professor of horticulture, for Outstanding Accomplishments in Extension/Outreach for his work on virus infections in snap beans, on the spread of the Phytophthora blight and for evaluating new vegetable varieties for the processing industry. He leads the Vegetable Crops Program Work Team, coordinating the publication of the annual Cornell Vegetable Guidelines, which growers describe as ‘gospel.'”

Class designs garden for CCE centennial

First-year plant science majors plant a garden outside of Fernow Hall.

First-year plant science majors plant a garden outside of Fernow Hall.

See the Oct. 11 Cornell Chronicle article, New garden designed by freshmen symbolizes Cornell Cooperative Extension’s 100 years by Cornell Chronicle intern Grady Brimley for more information.

Thirteen first-year plant science majors designed and on October 7 planted a garden outside of Fernow Hall to help celebrate 100 years of Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE).

Their theme features “red flowers, including roses, phlox and daylilies, in the center, with arms reaching out to the rest of the plants to symbolize how Cornell reaches out to communities through CCE. In the background will be flowers of soft whites, greens and yellows. The students used a variety of plants materials, including small shrubs, perennials and bulbs.”

Marvin Pritts, Department of Horticulture chair, “explained how the new seminar for freshman plant science majors, Horticulture 1110 — Collaboration, Leadership and Career Skills in the Plant Sciences, helps build unity among the plant science majors, who are spread out in five departments.

“‘Students often work on group projects but perhaps have fewer chances to engage in the challenges of genuine collaboration,’ said Marcia Eames-Sheavly, who co-teaches the seminar with Pritts. ‘In this case, the design arose out of two class sessions. Students learned the value of listening to one another, and we believe that the resulting design really highlights an understanding of not just plants, but also, the power of Cornell Cooperative Extension’s reach into communities.’

“Hands-on learning is an important aspect of the seminar, said Pritts. ‘The kids learn how to place an order, [they learn] about garden design and about plants.'”

The plants were a gift from Mark Sellew ’78, Prides Corner Farm in Lebanon, Conn., who like his son, Ben Sellew ’13, was a plant science major at Cornell.

Read the whole article.

More information on the Plant Sciences major.

First-year plant science majors plant a garden outside of Fernow Hall.

First-year plant science majors plant a garden outside of Fernow Hall.

They said it

David Wolfe“The abundant sunshine we have had much of this summer and fall has likely produced leaves high in sugars. And sugars are important for production of anthocyanins pigments, which produce rich red colors. Working against this backdrop for brilliant fall colors is the recent, record-breaking heat and many warm nights. The summer has been quite dry in many areas, and this, too, would tend to inhibit good color and also stretch out or delay color.”

David Wolfe Department of Horticulture in Dry, hot summer may curb autumn’s brilliance in the Oct. 2 Lockport (N.Y.) Union-Sun & Journal.

Tom WhitlowAlso, the Boston Globe cites Tom Whitlow in an article about beach plums (A Plum Job, Oct. 3):

Famously unpredictable at harvest time, beach plum shrubs can produce a bounty one year and very little the next. This fickleness in the wild helps explain why they’re one of the last native North American fruits — along with the banana-like pawpaw in Appalachia — that haven’t been exploited for mass production, according to Tom Whitlow, a Cornell University horticulturalist.

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