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Picture Cornell: Greenhouse tulips

Melissa Kitchen, research support specialist in the Flower Bulb Research Program, tends tulips and narcissus at the Kenneth Post Lab greenhouses in this image from the March 26 Picture Cornell feature from University Photography.
Melissa Kitchen tends tulips at KPL greenhouses in this Picture Cornell screencapture.

CU Press republishes The People’s Colleges

The People's Colleges A History of the New York State Extension Service in Cornell University and the State, 1876-1948The People’s Colleges
A History of the New York State Extension Service in Cornell University and the State, 1876-1948

By Ruby Green Smith
Foreword by Helene R. Dillard
Preface by Scott J. Peters
Cornell University Press

Scott Peters, associate professor, Department of Horticulture, writes in the preface, “One of the most important lessons Smith teaches us in this book is that the satisfactions of democratic living are not experienced and achieved when experts, however well meaning, do things for people. Nor are they achieved through work that is coerced or scripted, that offers no real rewards, or is experienced as duty-bound drudgery. They’re achieved through hard work, for sure—gritty, difficult, and at times full of conflict and disagreement. But work that is also joyful, artistic, productive, improvisational, and spirited, the expression of a free people engaged in the pursuit of public and private happiness.”

The People’s Colleges, first published in 1949, records the story of Cornell University’s success in the field of extramural education. From four state colleges of the University—the New York State College of Agriculture, the New York State College of Home Economics, the New York State Veterinary College, and the New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations—professors went out to the people of New York State with the best that the university had to offer. Ruby Green Smith tells the dramatic story of the growth of the Extension Service in scope, flexibility, and specialization through 1948, when it enrolled more than 200,000 students.

In the news

Terrence RobinsonFarmers harnessing wind to save apples [Albany Times Union 2013-03-25] – “After last year’s crippling frost, dozens of orchards around the state started investing in the machines. Terrence Robinson (right), an applied fruit crop physiologist at Cornell University, estimated that the number of wind machines in the state likely doubled between 2012 and 2013. The 2012 frost prompted Cornell to conduct a study of the machines’ effectiveness. The study found that farms that already utilized the machines fared much better during the frost. ‘The most viable means of frost protection seems to be these wind machines,’ said Robinson. He said that the university recently worked to encourage farmers to think about methods for protecting against frost, rather than simply relying on crop insurance to make up for losses in years that crops fail. ‘A lot of growers have taken up our advice and run with it,’ he said.”

From mushrooms to dandelions, foraged food finds way to U.S. tables [ 2013-03-23] – “Cornell University ecologist Antonio DiTommaso said he was encouraged by the growing interest in eating wild plants and thinks the trend could affect which crops are grown. He no longer buys lettuce in the summer, he said, choosing instead to eat a mixture of plants from his yard in upstate New York. He wondered how far the movement could go in supplanting traditional agriculture. ‘It might have been okay 10,000 years ago,’ said DiTommaso, an assistant professor in the crop and soil sciences department. ‘If we get all of New York City running through our fields in upstate New York, I don’t know that there would be much left.'”

Compost helps restore soil in arid region of China [Cornell Chronicle 2013-03-25] – “Parched land in China has prompted Cornell environmental experts to come up with a simple solution to restore soils in arid areas, using wood chips and compost. Led by Rebecca Schneider, associate professor of natural resources, researchers have shown that a method they developed to restore agricultural land by adding components into the upper soil layer, and collecting and retaining water to make the most of meager rainfall supplies can also contribute to soil fertility and carbon sequestration.”

Spring 2013 periodiCALS

Collections caseThe Spring 2013 issue of periodiCALS explores the work of the college’s scientists advancing our fundamental understanding of the mechanisms that regulate life and underpin the natural world around us. From the molecular mechanics of that most basic of building blocks, DNA, to the patois of patterns in evolution and communication, these intrepid explorers provide the foundation for innovation and practical problem-solving, using both traditional and state-of-the-art tools. Plus, meet the people behind some of CALS’ incredible research collections, as well as innovative alumni.

Photographer Robyn Wishna used this case on the first floor of Plant Sciences Building to simulate a 16th century Wünderkammer (“wonder chamber”) for the lead image for the article on CALS’ research collections. Known also as a cabinet or room of curiosities, such collections were the progenitors of the modern museum, a way for those fascinated by the wonders of the natural world to collect and codify such marvels.

Bruce Reisch and the release of new grape varieties is featured in ‘Around the Quad’ on page 3.  And Susheng Gan’s senescence research is featured on page 17.

Seminar videos

If you missed John Erwin’s seminar, Photosynthesis in floriculture crops: Are we ‘stressing out’ our plants?, it’s now available online.

For more seminar videos from this semester and before, visit our seminar video playlist.

What did you do on spring break?

Students in HORT/IARD 3200, Experiential Garden-Based Learning in Belize, spent the week leading classroom activities and building school gardens in a village in Toledo District. Details coming soon.

Garden-based learning in Belize students

Did you do anything of horticulture interest on spring break? Send pix to

Special Seminar April 4: Mushrooms in International Development

Graduate student Bryan Sobel with children from the Rwandan village where he worked with women to teach mushroom farming skills.

Graduate student Bryan Sobel with children from the Rwandan village where he worked with women to teach mushroom farming skills.

Special seminar sponsored by the New World Agriculture and Ecology Group and the CU Mushroom Club:

Mushrooms in International Development:
Observations From Travel in Bangladesh and Rwanda

Bryan Sobel
Graduate Field of Horticulture

Thursday April 4, 1:30pm
Room 22 Plant Science Building

See also:
Grad student helps women rebuild Rwanda with mushrooms
[Cornell Chronicle 2013-03-13]

What did you do on spring break?

Students in HORT 4940 Biodiversity on Easter Island kicked up their heels. Learn more at the Department of Horticulture seminar they’ll be giving April 22.

HORT 4940 students on Easter Island

HORT 4940 students on Easter Island

Did you do anything of horticulture interest on spring break? Send pix to

In the news

Michael Mazourek

Michael Mazourek

Agricultural research continues funding scramble [Southeast Farm Press 2013-03-19] – The March 1 federal budget sequester further jeopardizes gains made in research programs, says Michael Mazourek, an assistant professor in Cornell University’s Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics. Mazourek tells a story that he insists could be told by agriculture professors and researchers across the country. “I’m a vegetable breeder and have new varieties that end up in seed catalogs. We also do the initial ‘rough draft’ of germplasm that goes to the seed companies and they take that to the finished cultivar. In addition, we do a lot of genome metabolite nutrition research. … To get everything done, I’ve invested a lot in recruiting a dedicated staff. They’re key to everything we do. So, I spend a lot of time trying to make payroll, keep enough grants coming in to fund the research and keep momentum going.”

A New Height Control Possibility for Daffodils and Hyacinths [Greenhouse Product News ] – New drench technique shows promising results keeping forced narcissus and hyacinth from growing too tall, according to studies by Bill Miller, Neil Mattson and others.

Melissa Kitchen reflects on her past year as an EA member [Pawprint 2013-03-21] – Research support specialist Melissa Kitchen serves on the Employee Assembly’s Education Committee, which is examining the Employee Degree Program. “It is my hope that more employees will take advantage of this opportunity,” she writes.

Sustainable Farm Energy Lunchtime Webinar Series

A Bergey Excel 10kW wind turbine installed at Cross Island Farm, NY

A Bergey Excel 10kW wind turbine installed at Cross Island Farm, NY

From Violet Stone, Cornell Small Farms Program

Are your farm energy bills on the rise – and are you wondering what you can do to reduce them?  Are you looking for more sustainable sources of energy? Join us online for a webinar series of farmer-led virtual tours and fun, informational tips for saving energy and converting to renewables on your farm or homestead!

This four-part lunchtime webinar series will provide examples of energy conservation measures, solar arrays, wind turbines, compost heat, and a variety of other ecological production techniques and introduce you to farmers and professionals who are successfully harnessing the power of renewable resources to produce affordable, sustainable energy.  Tune in to learn if solar, wind, geothermal, and even compost power are right for you!

The series will run from noon-12:45pm every Friday from March 29th through April 19th.  All of the webinars are free and open to the public.  To sign up, please complete and submit our New Generation Energy Webinar Sign-Up form.   You will receive an email approximately one week before your chosen webinar(s) providing a link and instructions for you to access the series. [More Info]

Sponsored by NE SARE (Northeast Sustainable Ag Research and Education) and the Cornell Small Farms Program.  To learn about funding opportunities available from NE SARE, visit  To learn more about sustainable energy resources visit

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