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Horticulture Outreach Day: A new SoHo tradition?

Horticulture graduate student Miles Schwartz-Sax works on a terrarium at the SoHo-organized Horticulture Outreach Day

Horticulture graduate student Miles Schwartz-Sax works on a terrarium at the SoHo-organized Horticulture Outreach Day

From Franziska Doerflinger, PhD candidate, Graduate Field of Horticulture:

On Saturday April 13, 2013, more than 60 graduate and professional students from the Cornell community came to the Ken Post Lab Greenhouses to get their hands dirty and play with plants at the SoHo-organized event: “Horticulture Outreach Day,” (The event was sponsored Graduate and Professional Student Assembly Finance Commission.)

In six, 30-minute workshops, Horticulture graduate students explained mushroom cultivation and the process of constructing and caring for a terrarium to interested attendees. We also demonstrated how to grow edible sprouts cheaply and easily at home; how moss graffiti is made; and how vermicompost works and how it can greatly improve the life of your houseplants.

Last but not least, SoHo members showed some easy techniques for how to propagate houseplants. Every participant went home with at least one plant for their home and will know how to care for it.

We hope this will be the first of many such outreach days and a tradition was born, enabling this to become an annual event.

Big thanks to all the Horticulture graduate students for their participation in the organization and for their time. Thanks also to the Greenhouse management and staff for letting us use their facility.

Terminal Thoughts and Parting Shots – special exit seminar with Ian Merwin

Click to download poster

Click to download poster

Terminal Thoughts and Parting Shots
Special Exit Seminar with Dr. Ian Merwin

Friday, May 10
1:30-3:30 p.m.
Cornell Orchards Sales Room

Featured Speakers:

  • Dr. Ian Merwin
  • Dr. Frank Rossi
  • Dr. Gregory Peck

On the occasion of Professor Ian Merwin’s retirement, please join us for a seminar highlighting his research and teaching in viticulture and pomology.

The seminar will be followed by an orchard walk, weather-permitting.

Light refreshments will be provided.

Eames-Sheavly featured on ‘One Professor’

Via the Cornell Chronicle’s Essentials Blog, Marcia Eames-Sheavly is the subject of one of the 26 videos of Cornell students talking about their most influential professors posted on the website One Professor:

How do Ag Quad tree benefits measure up?

Sample tree tag

Sample tree tag

Students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (HORT/LA 4910/4920), taught by Nina Bassuk and Peter Trowbridge, measured tree diameters on the Ag Quad Tuesday. They will use the measurements to estimate the monetary benefits of each tree, which they’ll display on oversized tree tags attached to each tree during the week leading up to Arbor Day, April 26.

The students will use the National Tree Benefit Calculator, a simple-to-use online tool that estimates the environmental and economic benefits of street trees based on their location, size and species. Those benefits include:

  • Reduction in stormwater runoff
  • Increase in property value
  • Energy savings for heating and cooling
  • Improvements in air quality
  • Carbon dioxide sequestration

For more information about the calculator, visit:

Below, ‘Urban Eden’ students Molly Fancler and John Crespo measure a tree on the Ag Quad to calculate the benefits that tree returns.

Below, ‘Urban Eden’ students Molly Fancler and John Crespo measure a tree on the Ag Quad to calculate the benefits that tree returns.

New ‘publication’: CALS Notes

A message from Kathryn J. Boor, Ph.D., The Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

I’m thrilled to announce the launch of CALS Notes, the newest publication of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) at Cornell University! You’ll note that I called this new effort a “publication,” not a “blog.” While CALS Notes will function like any Tumblr blog, we intend it to be so much more. With original stories, fun features and college news updated daily, CALS Notes will be an exciting new source of information about the nation’s leading college of agriculture and life sciences.

Browsing CALS Notes is as simple as a mouse click. On the home page you’ll find the most recent stories in the chronological order in which they were posted. Looking for something specific? Try the search bar at the top of the page. Or, click the navigation tabs to browse stories categorized under specific themes.

For example, click “Study Notes,” and you’ll find stories about our students. “Lab Notes” brings you to news of our latest research discoveries. “Notables” contains stories on special landmarks in the lives of members of the CALS community. And “Marginalia” is the home of fun and interesting tidbits that illustrate the breadth and depth of ongoings in our college.

You can become a subscriber to CALS Notes in one of three ways: Follow us on Tumblr, subscribe to our RSS feed using your RSS reader, or sign up to join our email list, and receive monthly reminders to visit the site. I hope you enjoy CALS Notes and find it as informative, helpful and fun as we intend it to be.

Nina Bassuk’s Urban Eden class featured in recent post on CALS Notes:

New blog: CALS Notes

CALS also has a new Facebook page for students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the college at We’re also on Twitter @CornellCALS

Seminar video: Cultivating a legacy with Lorenzo Caponetti

If you missed Monday’s seminar, Cultivating a legacy: Experiences in central Italy with organic farming, olive oil production, and dealing with a still-functioning pre-Roman water harvesting system with Lorenzo Caponetti, Tuscania, Italy, it’s available online.

View the horticulture seminar YouTube playlist.

Congratulations Susan Brown!

Susan Brown

Susan Brown

Associate Chair Susan Brown has been named a 2013 winner for the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service.

The Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence are conferred by the State University of New York to acknowledge and provide system-wide recognition for consistently superior professional achievement and to encourage the ongoing pursuit of excellence.

These programs underscore SUNY’s commitment to sustaining intellectual vibrancy, advancing the boundaries of knowledge, providing the highest quality of instruction, and serving the public good.

Students connect Belize classrooms, gardens, communities

Cornell Chronicle, April 8 2013:

Twelve Cornell students practiced their “taking things in stride” skills when they traveled to Belize over spring break, as part of the Experiential Garden-Based Learning in Belize (HORT/IARD 3200) course.

The students were well-prepared for their mission to lead classroom activities that integrate gardening into the curriculum, reinforce those lessons with hands-on gardening experiences, and engage the community in building and supporting school gardens.

What they didn’t know was that two of the three teachers in the Barranco village school where they were scheduled to work would suddenly be called away for the beginning of the week.

“Our students really rose to the occasion,” said Marcia Eames-Sheavly, senior lecturer in the Department of Horticulture and the course’s instructor. “Particularly in global service learning experiences, we stress the need to be flexible and practical. And the students saw this as an opportunity, not a calamity.”

Read the whole article.

Ava Ryan ’13 with students showing their work from the garden-based learning lesson ‘Eat a Rainbow’ – a lesson that focuses on nutrition.

Ava Ryan ’13 with students showing their work from the garden-based learning lesson ‘Eat a Rainbow’ – a lesson that focuses on nutrition.

More images by Ava Ryan:

Bryan Sobel, MS candidate in the Graduate Field of Horticulture, demonstrates how to break ground for a garden bed. The students built two gardens outside the school in Barranco, a Garifuna Village in the Toledo District in southern Belize.Justin Kondrat ’14 helps younger students create garden-based images and stories. Asia Peureux ’14 explores the cycle of life in her science lesson with village students.Shoshana Mitchell ‘14 demonstrates how to make a garden journal during a Toledo District Teacher training.HORT/IARD 3200 students prepare for their return trip to Ithaca.

Ian Merwin seminar April 11

Ian MerwinIan Merwin, Herman M Cohn Professor of Horticulture, will present a Crop and Soil Sciences (CSS) seminar on Long-term impacts of groundcover management systems on orchard nutrient budgets, rootstock microbial communities, and productivity, Thursday, April 11, 2013, 12:20 – 1:10 pm, 135 Emerson Hall.

He will also be presenting a Department of Horticulture seminar on May 10, A retrospective on sustainability studies in orchards & vineyards, Friday, May 10.

The content of the two seminars “will be about 50 percent similar,” he says.

His abstract for the CSS seminar:

Since 1986 we have studied the long-term effects of different orchard groundcover/soil management systems (GMSs) on apple tree health and productivity, rootstock performance and rhizosphere microbial communities, and leaching, runoff, recycling and retention of nitrogen fertilizer and other agrichemicals. The short (3-5 year) vs. long-term (5-20 year) effects of GMSs on tree health and fruit production have been substantially different. Nitrogen and water competition from grass and legume groundcovers reduced fruit production and tree biomass up to 40% during orchard establishment, but in subsequent years tree root systems adapted to groundcover competition and yields were similar. Edaphic conditions diverged over time in herbicide vs. wood-chip mulch GMSs, with greater water infiltration, macroporosity, and soil organic matter in the mulch treatments. Rhizosphere microbial communities also differentiated over time among GMSs, and among various apple rootstock genotypes, and these differences influenced tree responses to the soil-borne disease complex known as apple replant disease. Detailed studies of N and P budgets under different GMSs have suggested that tree-row herbicide treatments required N fertilizers to maintain optimal fruit production, while grass and mulch GMSs had excess N supply after 15 years of treatments, and N leaching became a potential problem under wood-chip mulch. A recent short-term study of GMSs in steep hillside avocado orchards in central Chile showed that offsite soil erosion and runoff can be reduced by several orders of magnitude when groundcovers are maintained in these orchards, but there was also a concomitant reduction in early fruit production under the groundcovers compared with weed free herbicide systems. Taken collectively, our studies have important implications for the relative sustainability of different orchard floor systems, and the different short vs. long-term trends demonstrate the need for more long-term studies in perennial fruit-crop systems.

In the news

David WolfeFaculty stir up solutions at climate change forum [Cornell Chronicle 2013-04-02] – About 100 professors, graduate students and researchers affiliated with the David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future gathered March 28 to exchanged ideas about projects and studies in energy, the environment and economic development in the era of climate change. “It was a great array of faculty and graduate students from fields ranging from the physical and natural sciences to economics and the humanities,” said David Wolfe (right), professor of horticulture and a conference organizer. “The creative energy in the room was almost palpable. I think this is what happens when we hear surprising and mind-opening perspectives from those in very different disciplines. Exciting ideas for future collaboration across these disciplines came forward.” … In addition to pitches, horticulture graduate students presented posters on current research. … Sonam Sherpa showed new approaches to soil carbon mapping and Semagn Kolech demonstrated potato variety resilience to drought being studied in Ethiopia.

Disease-resistant tomatoes fight lethal pests [Cornell Chronicle 2013-04-02] – In the battle against thrips, Cornell breeder Martha Mutschler-Chu has developed a new weapon: a tomato that packs a powerful one-two punch to deter the pests and counter the killer viruses they transmit.

Susheng GanModel Behavior [periodiCALS Spring 2013, Arabidopsis thaliana, page 17] – Susheng Gan (right), associate professor of horticulture, is interested in how leaves are programmed to die. Since their main function is photosynthesis, the longer leaves stay green, the more sugars and other nutrients the plant can synthesize to fill seeds, store as biomass, or help root nodules live longer to fix more nitrogen in the soil. Using arabidopsis strains lacking certain genes, Gan identified several genes that regulate senescence, or leaf yellowing. Disabling one of these genes in soybeans increased leaf longevity by more than one week, resulting in a 44 percent increase in seed yield and significantly increased soil sustainability

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