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Growing the World’s Food in Greenhouses

Neil Mattson

Cornell Research website:

Neil Mattson, School of Integrative Plant Science, Horticulture Section, spent his childhood on a farm with flower and vegetable gardens. “If you know how to grow your own food, you’ll never go hungry,” Mattson recalls his grandmother, who grew up during the Great Depression, saying. “That ethos has carried with me.” And it has carried into his research projects, which aim to better understand controlled environment agriculture (CEA)—the cultivation of crops in controlled environments such as greenhouses, plant factories, or vertical farms.

Mattson is particularly interested in CEA. He says, “It integrates technology and agriculture and enables year-round production of high quality products.” For example, one can produce 20 to 50 times more lettuce per acre in a greenhouse than in a field in California.

Even so, there are challenges and drawbacks to growing crops in controlled environments, including the amount of energy and labor costs required. Given the challenges, one of the main questions driving Mattson’s work is essential: Is it realistic and economically viable to scale up CEA to feed the masses? “I’m trying to understand the pros and cons of this higher tech production system and want to understand its constraints and improve upon the constraints,” Mattson says.

Read the whole article.

 

Botanic Gardens’ Detrick, M.P.S. ’16, connects people and plants

Emily Detrick, a horticulturist at the Cornell Botanic Gardens, uses the Pounder Vegetable Garden to teach students in Marcia Eames-Sheavly's Seed to Supper class.  Simon Wheeler/Brand Communications

Cornell Chronicle [2018-10-04]

With a background in fine arts and experience working in museums and galleries, Emily Detrick, M.P.S. ’16, has always been interested in curation – the documentation and care of collections.

Now a horticulturist at the Cornell Botanic Gardens, Detrick continues to curate collections. But now those collections are beds of live plants, and she spends her days connecting people with them.

“A botanic garden is a museum full of living collections,” Detrick says. “By definition, botanic gardens are public-facing in their orientation, providing a gateway to the natural world, helping people to understand what’s all around them and the importance of plants in our lives.”

Citing the Botanic Gardens’ new mission, Detrick said her role is to inspire people – through cultivation, conservation and education – to “understand, appreciate and nurture plants and the cultures they sustain.”

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Art of Horticulture students create sod sofa

sod sofa

In an annual fall traditon, students in the Art of Horticulture (PLHRT 2010) constructed a sod sofa at Cornell Botanic Gardens adjacent to the Nevin Center, October 2.

Under the guidance of instructor Emily Detrick and turf specialist Frank Rossi, associate professor and turf specialist in the Horticulture Section of the  they shaped a mix of soil and compost to form comfortable spots to sit, then covered the foundation with rolls of sod.

The sofa needs a few days to firm up, dry out and root.  So if you visit, please observe the signage signalling whether or not it’s ready for you to try out.

You can watch the process in this time lapse video:

Cornell’s new Sustainable Landscapes Trail opens Oct. 5

Cornell Chronicle [2018-10-02]:

Lace up your walking shoes and head to Cornell’s new Sustainable Landscapes Trail, which will open with a ceremony Friday, Oct. 5, at 2 p.m., at the newly refurbished Peterson parking lot across from Stocking Hall and the Dairy Bar on Tower Road.

In lieu of a ribbon-cutting, officials will offer a celebratory “downpour” of water on the sustainable, permeable asphalt. Afterward, Nina Bassuk, professor of plant science, will lead a tour of the Sustainable Landscapes Trail.

Students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (PLHORT/LA 4910) plant trees and shrubs in the Peterson Lot bioswale.

Students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (PLHORT/LA 4910) plant trees and shrubs in the Peterson Lot bioswale.

Stretching from the Libe Slope Meadow to the Botanic Gardens’ Native Lawn, the trail features 20 stops that show how design, construction and the management of campus grounds can enhance and promote healthy landscape ecosystems.

The Peterson green parking lot was constructed this summer as a state-of-the-art example of green infrastructure and is the latest project to join the trail. It was designed by landscape architecture students and Cornell staff to demonstrate an alternative to traditional impervious parking lots and the resulting storm water runoff.

As a cause of water pollution, runoff from impervious roads and parking lots collect oil, sediment and other pollutants – and carries this material into waterways.

Green infrastructure practices will turn this parking lot into a natural landscape by capturing rainwater where it falls, filtering out pollutants and reducing large volumes of runoff, said David Cutter, Cornell’s campus landscape architect.

The Peterson lot’s porous pavement allows storm water to drain into a stone reservoir below the lot’s surface, while CU-Structural Soil along the lot’s central bioswale (a landscape element designed to remove pollution) allows the roots of bushes and trees to succeed under paved surfaces.

The parking lot is expected to be certified by both SITES, an initiative of the U.S. Green Building Council to certify sustainable land design and development, and by Parksmart, a rating system for green parking structures.

Other highlights of the trail include Fernow Hall’s rain garden and green roof; a green roof consists of a shallow layer of light-weight soil and plants that filter runoff. Fernow Hall’s rain garden diverts storm water from paved areas and roofs and channels it into the ground using a well-draining soil that helps to prevent polluted water from flowing directly to streams and lakes.

The trail also includes Mann Library’s entrance garden and green roof, the Ag Quad biodetention basins, which control pollution, and the Tower Road bioswale, which filters polluted water runoff with carefully selected plants growing in engineered soil and it provides a habitat for insects and pollinators.

The trail is a living laboratory for open spaces, natural areas and landscapes with unique sustainability features. On the trail, see the Rice Hall bioswale that undergraduate students built by using a technique called “scoop and dump” during a project in the “Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design and Landscape Establishment,” taught by Bassuk and Peter Trowbridge, professor of landscape architecture.

The Sustainable Landscapes Trail was developed by the Land Team of the President’s Sustainability Campus Committee. It fulfills a goal in Cornell’s Climate Action Plan, by demonstrating best practices in sustainable landscape planning, design and management, according to Sarah Brylinsky, Cornell’s sustainability communications manager.

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