Archive for the “Extension and outreach” Category

resilient ones posterThe Resilient Ones:
A Generation Takes on Climate Change

Go on a journey with a group of high school students seeking solutions to climate change. The Resilient Ones invites you along to meet with the local leaders and expert innovators as these students work to make a difference in the Adirondack mountains of Northern New York.

Cornell Professor Ken Mudge, Research Specialist Jonathan Comstock, and extension educator Steve Gabriel make brief appearances.

View trailer.

Film Screenings in Ithaca this week:

Friday, Sept. 26th, 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.
B25 Warren Hall
Cornell University
Short reception with food & drink starts at 2:30.
Immediately followed by Q&A with filmmakers and local individuals featured in the film.

Saturday, Sept. 27th, 7:30 p.m.
Lehman Alternative Community School
Black Box Theater
111 Chestnut Street, Ithaca
55 min. run time and Q&A with Filmmaker Victor Guadagno and individuals featured in the film immediately following.

Sponsored by the Sustainability Center and Co-Sponsored by New York Youth Against Fracking, The Youth Farm Project, Tompkins County Youth Action Network, New Roots Charter School, ICSD Green Teams

All ages!

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If you missed today’s seminar, Case studies in forest farming, with Ken Mudge, it’s available online.

And don’t forget to pre-order his new book, Farming in the Woods.

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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.

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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.

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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.



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Raised bed vegetable gardenThe Department of Horticulture’s online Organic Gardening course is designed to help new gardeners get started and help experienced gardeners broaden their understanding of organic techniques for all kinds of gardens.

The course runs October 8 to November 21, 2014, and covers one topic each week. (See course outline below.) With a strong foundation in soil health and its impact on plant health, we then explore tried-and-true and cutting-edge techniques for all different kinds of garden plants including food plants, trees and shrubs and lawn.

Participants view recorded presentations, read assigned essays and book excerpts, participate in online group discussions with other students, complete reflective writing/design work and take part in some hands-on activities. 
Most students spend 3 to 4 hours each week with the content, though there are always ample resources and opportunity to do more.

Please contact the instructor, Elizabeth Gabriel, for information:

Course outline:

  • Week 1: Introduction: What is Organic Gardening?  Knowing Your Site.
  • Week 2: Soil, Compost, and Mulch
  • Week 3: Vegetables and Flowers: Site Design & Planning for the Season
  • Week 4: Vegetables and Flowers: Early, Mid, Late Season Crops; Harvesting, Herbs
  • Week 5: Maintenance a & Managing Pests Organically
  • Week 6: Trees, Shrubs, and Herbaceous Perennials: The Long-Term Landscape
  • Optional Extra Readings: Advanced Topics for the Adventurous Gardener
More information:

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Kao-Kniffin in Landscape and IrrigationVia Michelle Sutton (MS Horticullture ’00), Editor, Taking Root, the blog of the New York State Urban Forestry Council:

Jenny Kao-Kniffin’s lab is featured in the September 2014 issue of the trade journal Landscape and Irrigation. (See page 22.)
In the article, Kao-Kniffin offers advice for how grounds people can manage turf in light of New York’s 2010 Child Safe Playing Fields Law, which restricts the use of conventional pesticides on K-12 school grounds, playing fields and daycare centers.

“Some contractors go overboard with adding fertilizers. This can result in extensive phosophorus application, whereas nitrogen should really be the focus when it comes to turf density in most sites,” she says.

The article also details research by horticulture PhD candidate Grant Thompson, who is comparing polycultures of turfgrass species with monocultures. “In the polycultures, we found some moderate increases in biomass and some moderate retention of nitrogen,” he says. He also found more diverse bacterial and fungal communities in the root zones of the polycultures.

On a related note, research at the Horticulture Section’s Urban Horticulture Institute was recently featured on the Taking Root blog, which has replaced the New York State Urban Forestry Council’s print newsletter.

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TSF funding helped support and earlier project comparing organic and integrated fruit production systems at Cornell Orchards.

TSF funding helped support an earlier project comparing organic and integrated fruit production systems at Cornell Orchards.

For more than 15 years, CALS has bolstered its sustainability research with a steady stream of gifts from the Toward Sustainability Foundation (TSF), a Massachusetts-based organization founded by an anonymous, eco-minded Cornell alumna.

In its first 10 years, TSF provided nearly $550,000 in funding for approximately 75 faculty and student projects that examine the technological, social, political, and economic elements of sustainable agriculture.

Projects funded for 2014 include research and outreach topics ranging from producing syrup from black walnut trees to organic fertilizer for hydrop0nic systems to urban soil remediation.

View full list of funded projects and contact information for each.

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Belize studentsDo you love chocolate?

Are you curious about the world around you?

Belizean Tropical Plants Extravaganza

  • Field trip to Belize during January break
  • Class meets weekly for 1st half of spring semester
  • 1 credit

You will:

  • Immerse yourself in tropical plants.
  • Learn from an intensive team building experience.
  • Assist in preparing tropical edibles.
  • Help implement interpretation for a natural park.
  • Collaborate with other students, project leaders and mentors.

Info session Sept. 15, 4:45pm
Room 22, Plant Science Building

For more information contact: Marcia Eames-Sheavly,

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Permaculture systems meet humans needs while restoring ecosystem health.

Permaculture systems meet humans needs while restoring ecosystem health.

From Lori Brewer:

Registration is now open for the online course Permaculture: Fundamentals of Ecological Design, offered October 6 to November 20, 2014 through the Horticulture section’s distance learning program. Space is limited to 25 participants. Registration closes when limit is reached. Registration fee is $600 and to be paid via credit card at registration. See registration link at course info website.

The study of permaculture helps gardeners, landowners, and farmers combine knowledge of ecology combined with its application to supporting healthy soil, water conservation, and biodiversity. Permaculture systems meet human needs while restoring ecosystem health. Common practices include no-till gardening, rainwater catchment, forest gardening, and agroforestry.

The course is 6.5 weeks long and provides an opportunity for you to build your knowledge about permaculture and ecological design. Participants will explore the content through videos, readings, and activities and complete portions of a design for a site of their choosing.

While the course is online, the format is designed for consistent interaction between instructors and students through forums and live video conferences. Readings and presentations will be directly applied through hands-on activities students will engage with at home.

View the full syllabus for the course and find registration information at the course info website.

Horticulture’s distance learning program offers two other online permaculture design courses:

Completion of a single class gives students a certificate of completion from the Horticulture and continuing education units*. Completion of all three courses gives students the portfolio necessary to apply for an internationally recognized certification in Permaculture Design though the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute. Registration opens about six weeks before adult education courses begins.

*Most of our participants take our distance courses for life enrichment or professional development. Participants do not receive Cornell University credit for taking any of the courses. Rather, for each course you will receive a certificate of participation from our Office of Continuing Education and Continuing Education Units. People have tried to use the educational award through Americorps Vista Program and it does not work. No financial aid awards are given or discounts to CCE staff or volunteers.

Space is limited to 25 participants. Registration closes when limit is reached. Registration fee is $600 and to be paid via credit card at registration. See registration link at course info website.

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