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SIPS seminar video: Origin of the Tropical Rainforest Biome

If you missed the SIPS-wide seminar Friday, Origin of the Tropical Rainforest Biome with Kirk Johnson, Sant Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, it’s available online.

Forest farming book available for pre-order

Farming the Woods coverFarming the Woods, by Ken Mudge, associate professor, Horticulture Section, and program aide Steve Gabriel, is now available for pre-order. Official release is slated for October 9, 2014.

The 360-page book will help you learn how to fill forests with food by viewing agriculture from a remarkably different perspective: that you can maintain a healthy forest while growing a wide range of food, medicinals, and other non-timber products.

The authors demonstrate that forest farms can be most productive in places where annual cropping is not: on steep slopes and in shallow soils. They detail how forest farmingcan be integrated into any farm or homestead, especially as the need for unique value-added products and supplemental income becomes increasingly important for farmers.

Farming the Woods covers how to cultivate, harvest, and market high-value non-timber forest crops such as American ginseng, shiitake mushrooms, ramps (wild leeks), maple syrup, fruit and nut trees, ornamentals, and more. Along with profiles of forest farmers from around the country, the book provides comprehensive information on:

  • Historical perspectives of forest farming.
  • Mimicking the forest in a changing climate.
  • Cultivation of medicinal crops.
  • Cultivation of food crops.
  • Creating a forest nursery.
  • Harvesting and using wood products.
  • The role of animals in the forest farm.
  • How to design your forest farm and manage it once
    it’s established.

Read more about the book.

Mudge will present a Horticulture Section seminar Case studies in forest farming Monday, September 22, 2014 at 12:20 p.m. in 404 Plant Science Building.

NYFVI awards grants worth $1 million

nyfvi logoThe New York Farm Viability Institute announced the award of $1 million in funding for 14 projects that aim to help farmers across the state improve their bottom line by reducing inputs, improving yields, testing new production practices, and fighting pests naturally.

One of the highlighted projects is Testing a Promising New Canopy Management Technique to Reduce Management Costs in Vineyards: A novel approach to pruning and vine management, successful in France, could save growers of Vinifera grapes in the Finger Lakes and Long Island grape regions up to $500 per acre.  But how will it affect vine size, fruit composition, wine quality, and production costs in New York?  That’s what Dr. Justine Vanden Heuvel of Cornell University will receive $112,547 to find out.  It’s an important question, as economic analyses suggest that some Finger Lakes growers are losing up to $1,390 per acre per year.

Other projects of horticultural interest include:

View full list of funded projects.

The Institute also announced the opening of its 2015 competitive grants program. Application deadline is November 16, 2014. More information.

Drinkwater Lab celebration Sept. 23

happy folks at drinkwater lab

Why are these people so happy?

Come to our party and find out!

What: Drinkwater Lab Celebration
When: Tuesday, Sept. 23rd, 4:00
Where: Plant Science 147
Refreshments and cake will be served!

Seminar video: Leadership as part of graduate education at Cornell

If you missed Marvin Pritts’ and Pam Strausser’s seminar Leadership as part of graduate education at Cornell on Monday, it’s available online.

Botanizing in South Africa

Miles with Aloidendron dichotoma

Miles with Aloidendron dichotoma

From Dreer Award recipient Miles Schwartz-Sax (MPS ’14) who is studying Plant Conservation in South Africa:

Hope you are doing well and that the semester has started off smoothly. So far South Africa has been an exciting experience. I have had adventures botanizing in the mountains, high deserts, ocean sides, natural areas and already visited a handful of private and public gardens. At Stellenbosch Botanical Garden, I have been busy helping mainly in the curatorial aspects of the garden, so plant identification, labeling, propagation, database management and development and so on.The state of urban horticulture is almost non existent in South Africa, so it has been very interesting to see the creative approaches people are implementing. The city of Stellenbosch is known for its extensive oak plantings throughout the city that go back to the city’s development. The city is currently undertaking a Million Tree campaign and I have been able to sit in on a few of these events to get a sense of how they are planning to go about the project.

Mostly the soils are sandy in this area, so some street tree plantings can obviously deal with the high bulk density. But it would seem they would benefit from the development or implementation of skeletal structural or Amsterdam structural soils.  Martin Smit the curator here is trying to get me in contact with a few municipal folks to see if we can’t set up a seminar or talk to some key folks on soil quality, street tree planting, site prep. We will see how this develops. Things have there own way of working  down here compared to fully developed nations.

As a means of reporting on my activities over here I have developed a blog that you can follow: Dreer South Africa. Hopefully this will work as my way of keeping folks updated on my activities.

All my best and hope you are enjoy the start of fall colors and the bounty of the apple harvest.

See the application and instructions for the 2015 Dreer Award cycle. Deadline is March 2, 2015 .

Climate change movie screening Sept. 26

From Jonathan Comstock, research support specialist (Wolfe Lab):

The Resilient Onesposter

Reception and Film Screening
Warren Hall B25, Cornell University
2:30 – 4:00, Friday, Sept. 26th

The hour-long film, starting at 3pm, will be preceded by a reception with refreshments in the foyer. Meet with filmmakers Victor Guadagno and Jon Erickson. The film will also be followed by Q&A with filmmakers and local individuals featured in the film.


In August of 2011, Tropical Storm Irene ripped through the Adirondack Mountains of Northern New York, upending lives and communities, and reminding us of the ecological foundation of our economic well-being. Irene was a wake-up call, exposing vulnerabilities of inland communities and sounding a call to action.

In the aftermath of the storm, a group of high school students take us on a journey through the region to meet local leaders and innovators. Cody Bary, Erin Weaver, and Gina Fiorile serve as our guides to understanding both short-term strategies for adapting to extreme weather and long-term solutions to reducing carbon emissions.

The Resilient Ones explores the complex social transitions necessary to navigate this new era in human history.

In addition to the high school students that the film follows, a host of experts are interviewed including: Jerry Jenkins, Wildlife Conservation Society, Jonathan Comstock, Research Support Specialist, Cornell University; Ian Shapiro, Founder of TAITEM Engineering, Ithaca, NY; and Ken Mudge, Dept. of Horticulture, Cornell University.

More information, trailers, etc. at The Resilient Ones movie website.

Event poster.

Urban Eden students plant Tower Road bioswale

Click on images for larger views.

Tower Rd bioswale planting

Tower Road bioswale planting

Thursday, students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (HORT/LA 4910/4920) planted more than 1,000 feet of beds along Tower Road from Plant Science Building to Stocking Hall with nearly 1,000 woody shrubs.

The bioswale is designed to channel water runoff from Tower Road into the beds so that the water can infiltrate and recharge groundwater instead of going directly into storm drains and discharged ultimately into Cayuga Lake.

The shrubs were selected based on their ability to tolerate both saturated soil and intermittent dry conditions, as well as tolerance to road salt. That selection was guided by research conducted by former Graduate Field of Horticulture student Ethan Dropkin (MPS ’14).

“These are tough plants that can tolerate challenging conditions,” says Nina Bassuk, director of the Urban Horticulture Institute in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science. “A lot of snow will pile up on them over the winter, and may damage some of them. But they are the kind of shrubs that you can cut back in spring and they’ll bounce right back.”

Dropkin’s publication, Woody Shrubs for Stormwater Retention Practices (Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Regions) is available online at the Urban Horticulture Institute website.

Bassuk instructs students before planting.

Bassuk instructs students before planting.

Curb cuts channel runoff into into bioswale.

Curb cuts channel runoff into into bioswale.

The shrubs used are tolerant to road salt and intermittent flooding and dry soil conditions.

The shrubs used are tolerant to road salt and intermittent flooding and dry soil conditions.


Urban Eden class.

Urban Eden class.



Seminar video: Modern plant hunting for urban plants: New perspectives

If you missed Monday’s seminar Modern plant hunting for urban plants: new perspectives with Dr. Henrik Sjoman, Post Doctorate Fellow (Bassuk Lab), it’s available online.

Hortus Forum plant sale Friday

hofo-plant-saleHortus Forum, Cornell’s undergraduate horticulture club, will hold it’s first plant sale of the semester this Friday, September 12 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the lobby of Mann Library.

The club grows a wide variety of houseplants on campus in the Kenneth Post Lab greenhouses. Members hold weekly plant sales to cover greenhouse costs and fund educational horticulture trips, service projects, and community social events.

Past trips have been to Costa Rica, Longwood Garden, Holland, and Florida. They also hold a variety of social events during the year with other interests groups.

Find out more about Hortus Forum on Facebook.

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