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Rakow receives APGA Award of Merit

Donald Rakow, Associate Professor, Horticulture Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, and former director of Cornell Plantations, received the American Public Gardens Association’s 2015 Award of Merit at the APGA’s 39th Annual Conference June 25 in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.

The Award of Merit recognizes an APGA member who has performed with distinction as part of an illustrious career in the field of public horticulture. Among Rakow’s accomplishments cited by APGA were the creation of Cornell’s Graduate Program in Public Garden Leadership, a doubling of Cornell Plantations staffing under his watch, and raising $14 million through a combination of endowments, annual fund support and capital projects, culminating with the dedication of the Brian C. Nevin Welcome center in 2010.

Don Rakow accepts the Award of Merit from APGA executive director Casey Schlar.

Don Rakow accepts the Award of Merit from APGA executive director Casey Schlar.

Michael Dosmann

Michael Dosmann

CALS Dean Kathryn Boor said, “Don’s leadership has been a key part of the transformation of Cornell Plantations in the last two decades. I am grateful for his expertise, enthusiasm and partnership.”

Also honored at the conference with an APGA Professional Citation Award was Michael Dosmann (Ph.D., Graduate Field of Horticulture, ’07), now curator of the Living Collections at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University. The award recognizes individual achievements, skills, innovation and potential in botany, horticulture, conservation, research, education, or administration.

Turf field day at Bluegrass Lane

More than 40 golf course superintendents and other turf professionals spent the morning on Thursday learning about the latest turfgrass research taking place at the Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility adjacent to the Robert Trent Jones golf course northeast of campus.

Among the highlights:

Horticulture graduate student Grant Thompson explains his research using 13C carbon dioxide to label grasses, which he will clip and return to lawns to study the fate of carbon in different urban soils.

Grant Thompson explains researuc

Associate professor Frank Rossi explains how overseeding overused athletic fields can help maintain safe playing conditions.

Rossi explains overseeding

Rossi discusses a new collaboration with Consumer Reports to evaluate robotic lawn mowers.

Rossi and robotic mower

Robotic mowers at work:

Donate extra garden, CSA produce

FDN-logox400From Jane Mt. Pleasant:

I know that many of you are home gardeners and sometimes have more produce from your garden than you and your family can eat. Instead of throwing those zucchini on the compost pile or letting them rot in the field, you can donate them to Friendship Donations Network. This local non-profit (of which I am a board member and volunteer), collects good, nutritious food that would otherwise be discarded from stores, farms, and other donors, and redistributes it to people in our community who need it. (Watch FDN’s 11-minute video to get a quick, compelling overview.)

Two years ago, FDN started Neighborhood Food Hubs to increase the quantity of fresh fruits and vegetables that we rescue and redistribute. Individuals and families volunteer their front porches to serve as weekly collection spots where home gardeners in their neighborhoods bring their extra fruits and vegetables.

Last year we had a Food Hub in the Plant Science Building and collected more than 200 pounds of vegetables that would otherwise have been discarded. Instead, the food was distributed to food pantries and other programs; it ended up on the plates of people who need it.

We are organizing a Plant Science Food Hub again this year. I think we can collect much more than we did in 2014!

Here’s how it works. Bring your excess produce every Monday to the walk-in cooler on the garden floor, Plant Science G04E. (There will be signs posted to direct you to the cooler.) I collect it at the end of the day and take it to FDN’s storage and office space in downtown Ithaca. (You can also donate extra produce from your CSA if you find that you have more than you can eat! As long as the produce is in good shape, FDN will take it.)

We will start collecting on Monday, July 6, and continue every Monday through September 28.

There may be a Hub close to your home. (There are also Hubs at some community gardens). Please donate there if it’s more convenient. View map of hubs.

Finally, if you have a very large garden and find yourself with more vegetables than you can easily bring to work with you, let me know and FDN will send a volunteer to pick up the produce at your home.

If you have questions, call or email me: or 255-4670. Thank you for your support and participation in this important activity.

Titan arum timelapse videos

If you missed last week’s bloom — or would just like to see the whole thing — check out these videos:

View more timelapse videos or learn more about ‘Stinky Science’ on our YouTube channel.

Wolfe, Smart receive Academic Venture Fund awards from the Atkinson Center

David Wolfe and Larry Smart are among the recipients of $1.2 million from Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF)’s Academic Venture Fund. The program funded 11 new projects selected from 37 proposals.

David Wolfe

David Wolfe

“We make seed grants to multidisciplinary teams with exciting ideas that address sustainability problems and opportunities. The process is very competitive and usually brings together faculty who have not previously worked together,” says Frank DiSalvo, Atkinson Center director and the John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science.

Wolfe is part of the Ecological Calendars for Climate Change project. A time-tested tool for climate adaptation—ecological calendars—helped generations of indigenous and rural societies anticipate seasonal patterns for farming, herding, hunting, and fishing. These calendars rely on natural cues, such as the arrival of birds and nascence of flowers. This transdisciplinary team will use ecological calendars to guide communities as they adapt to climate change. Working in partnership with Great Plains Native Americans and rural communities near Oneida Lake, the researchers will identify key climate vulnerabilities, document existing ecological calendars, and revitalize or develop new calendars for local use by combining folk knowledge with cutting-edge climate forecasting. Other investigators in the project are Karim-Aly Kassam, Natural Resources/American Indian Program; Christopher Dunn, Cornell Plantations; Art DeGaetano, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Amanda Rodewald, Lab of Ornithology.

Larry Smart

Larry Smart

Smart is part of the Cornell Climate Plan Reflections project. Cornell has embraced a carbon-neutral campus by 2035. Establishing forests on campus lands and transitioning to biofuels are options for reducing carbon emissions, but the carbon calculation is not straightforward. Forests and biofuel crops could reduce the land’s surface reflectivity, or “albedo”—an important but complex climate feature—and the warming effect may counterbalance the biofuels’ benefits. The researchers will develop an accounting tool to assess the net climate benefits of land management plans with more accurate climate projections. By revealing the trade-offs in land-use decisions, this much-needed tool has the potential for broad application beyond Cornell. Other investigators in the project are Timothy Fahey, Natural Resources; Natalie Mahowald, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; Christine Goodale, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology;  and Peter Hess, Biological and Environmental Engineering.

More information:

Dougherty receives Perrine award

Laura Dougherty, horticulture graduate student in Kenong Xu’s lab, is the recipient of the 2015 Perrine Award. David Perrine (Pomology ’22), a prominent orchardist from Centralia, Ill., established the award in memory of his wife, Fanny French Perrine. The award supports research by an undergraduate or graduate student in pomology. Congratulations Laura!

Steve Reiners, association chair, Horticulture Section, Laura Dougherty and her advisor Kenong Xu.

Steve Reiners, association chair, Horticulture Section, Laura Dougherty and her advisor Kenong Xu.

Planting season at Bluegrass Lane

It’s a busy time of year at the Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Facility adjacent to campus …


Christian Lesage, Sam McClung and Amber VanDyken plant annual flower and foliage plant trials that will be on display at the Cornell Floriculture Field Day August 11.

done's eye view of sod planting

Drone’s-eye view of newly laid sod ready for turf trials.


Horticulture professor Mark Bridgen, director of the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center, planted more than 1,200 hybrid Glossy Abelias (Abelia x grandiflora) with lots of help from (left to right) Plant Breeding and Genetics graduate student Nor Kamal Ariff Nor Hisham Shah, visiting interns from the Universidad de Chile Pablo Tapia Figueroa, Constanza Rivas, and Agustina Hidalgo, and summer intern from North Carolina State University Kristin Neill.

Bridgen’s study aims to identify which varieties of the fragrant-flowering shrub normally grown in warmer climes can survive Ithaca’s Zone 5 winters.


New Hybrid Grapes Help Grow Wine Industry in Cold US Regions

Bruce Reisch

Bruce Reisch

AP via ABC News [2015-06-07]:

The Marquette grapevines clinging to a steep, rocky hillside in the southeastern Adirondacks are among a host of new grape varieties that have enabled a boutique wine industry to take root in areas of the Northeast and Midwest that were previously inhospitable.

There were about 2,000 wineries in the U.S. in 2000; today, there are more than 8,000, according to the industry publication Wines and Vines.

“Across the country we’ve seen a huge expansion in wine and grape production and wine-related tourism,” said Bruce Reisch, who leads Cornell University’s wine and grape research and development program in New York’s Finger Lakes.

And the new influx of tourism dollars can be traced to, among other places, Cornell and the University of Minnesota, which have developed these hybrid grapes that withstand brutal winters and disease — and provide the quality and consistency needed to produce fine wine in places like Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska and Ohio.

Read the whole article.

Leap of faith proves pollination can be honeybee free

Bryan Danforth inspects apple blossoms and native pollinators at the Cornell Orchards. (Jason Koski/University Photography)

Bryan Danforth inspects apple blossoms and native pollinators at the Cornell Orchards. (Jason Koski/University Photography)

Cornell Chronicle [2015-06-03]:

As the state’s land-grant institution, Cornell University was born to explore science for the public good – a mission that can sometimes require a leap of faith.

Just such a leap is paying off now at Cornell Orchards in Ithaca, as researchers and managers from the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science and the Department of Entomology celebrate a solid spring pollination season for the site’s apple trees. While crisp apples and fresh cider are no strangers to fans of the 37-acre research and outreach site, this year’s crop provides an extra bonus for New York apple growers: proof that pollination can be done commercial honeybee free.

“This is a food security issue,” said entomology professor Bryan Danforth. “We need to know if growers can continue to produce food in the absence of honeybees.”

Read the whole article.

Also in the Chronicle: Pesticides harm wild bees, pollination in N.Y. orchard crops

Video: Entomology professor Bryan Danforth discusses the decision this year to let wild bees pollinate Cornell’s apple orchards, steering away from the practice of renting hives of European honeybees. View video.

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