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Extension and outreach

Vanden Heuvel in the NY Times

Justine Vanden Heuvel

Justine Vanden Heuvel

In Do Children in France Have a Healthier Relationship With Alcohol?Justine Vanden Heuvel and psychology professor Katherine Kinzler explore how the informal education about alcohol children receive influences later drinking habits.

“Though some studies have suggested that offering children small tastes of alcohol is associated with problem drinking, countries where drinking wine at meals is standard, including Italy, France and Spain, rank among the least risky in a World Health Organization report on alcohol. Can cultural attitudes toward wine affect our propensity for problem drinking?.”

Read the whole article.


Podcast: Climate Change and Fruit Trees

How will the changing climate affect the way we grow fruit now and in the years to come?  Greg Peck, Assistant Professor in the Horticulture Section, sat down with Susan Poizner, host of the Orchard People podcast for a wide-ranging discussion about sustainable fruit productions systems, how climate change will affect fruit trees and what growers and gardeners can do to prepare.

Listen to the podcast.

Greg Peck dissects fruit buds to assess frost damaage.

Greg Peck dissects fruit buds in his lab to assess frost damage.


Vanden Heuvel: Climate Change Will Transform What’s in Your Wine Glass

Justine Vanden Heuvel

Justine Vanden Heuvel

[Huffington Post 2016-04-20]:

After the publication of a recent study about the impact of climate change on French wine, several articles misrepresented the study, resulting in misleading headlines such as An Upside to Climate Change? Better French Wine, French Wine May Be Improving Due To Climate Change, and Climate Change Giving The World Better French Wine. While the stories implied that any benefit of climate change on French wine would be short-term, they failed to press on a key point: Climate change will transform what’s in your wine glass and continue to do so as long as it remains unchecked.

Here in the U.S., the assessment of the future of the wine industry is pretty grim: the land area capable of producing premium wines could decrease by as much as 81 percent by the end of this century. The major impact of climate change on wine grape production is through increasing temperature; as the growth of grapevines is mostly dictated by temperature, climate change has been resulting in earlier bloom and harvest dates, with most major wine regions being impacted.

Major wine-growing regions such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, and the Napa Valley have at least a few strategies available to them. One is that they can maintain the status quo by growing the same grape varieties that they grow now. As temperature increases, sugar accumulation in the grape increases, resulting in a higher alcohol wine. Acidity of the grapes decreases, color can be reduced, and compounds that are responsible for the typical aroma of some wines can decrease. Will consumers adapt to these changing styles? It’s difficult to say.

‘Urban Eden’ students put a price tag on trees for Arbor Day

Urban Eden teaching assistants Huan Liu and Miles Schwartz Sax tag a sugar maple outside of Roberts Hall.

Urban Eden teaching assistants Huan Liu and Miles Schwartz Sax tag a sugar maple outside of Roberts Hall.

What’s a tree worth?

In what has become an annual tradition, students in Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (HORT/LA 4910/4920) are helping to make people more aware of why trees are worth hugging by hanging bright green “price tags” on trunks around the Ag Quad.

The students entered data about the trees, such as species, diameter and location, into i-Tree — a state-of-the-art, peer-reviewed software suite from the USDA Forest Service. The application then calculates monetary benefits from reduced stormwater runoff, improved air quality,  carbon dioxide sequestration and energy savings to nearby buildings by blocking wind in winter and providing shade in summer.

“It’s really quite eye-opening for people who think that trees are just nice to look at and don’t have any other value,” said Nina Bassuk, professor in the Horticulture Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science, who leads the class alongside Peter Trowbridge, professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture.

There are also benefits that are not easily quantified, such as wildlife habitats and emotional responses, added Bassuk, who is also director of the Urban Horticulture Institute.

Urban Eden tree taggers spread out across the Ag Quad tagging trees ...

Urban Eden tree taggers spread out across the Ag Quad tagging trees …

... until it was time to go prune and mulch landscapes installed by previous Urban Eden classes.

… until it was time to go prune and mulch landscapes installed by previous Urban Eden classes.

Annual Fund support helps CALS grow

The Annual Fund helps Hannah Swegarden, horticulture Ph.D student, complete the kind of innovative research that will help feed a hungry world. Support her and other CALS students on Cornell Giving Day April 19:

Biochar/Bioenergy Seminar

Nearly 60 faculty, staff, students, industry representatives and others attended the day-long Cornell Biochar/Bioenergy Seminar April 15. They were treated to wide-ranging talks, panel discussions, flash presentations and a poster session. The day culminated with a tour of Cornell’s new biochar research pyrolysis kiln at the Leland Laboratory, the largest in the U.S.

The kiln was made possible by a $5 million gift to the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future from philanthropist Yossie Hollander, who is interested in the test facility’s potential to help small farming communities in developing countries. The kiln will help researchers learn more about how feedstocks and pyrolysis practices affect biochar quality and effectiveness as a soil amendment. More information.

biochar kiln

Seminar participants learn about the nuts and bolts of Cornell’s new research pyrolysis kiln at the Leland Laboratory.

Promotions for Smart, Fazio

Larry Smart

Larry Smart

Larry Smart has been promoted to Professor effective April 1. Smart is based at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station, in Geneva, N.Y., where his lab focuses on breeding, genetics, genomics, and physiology of shrub willow bioenergy crops.   He is the co-leader of a recently funded $1 million USDA-DOE grant looking at shrub willow rust-resistance, and part of the team for the Cornell Climate Plan Reflections project funded by the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future Academic Venture Fund. Visit the Willowpedia website for more information about Smart’s work.

Gennaro Fazio

Gennaro Fazio

Gennaro Fazio, Research Geneticist with the USDA-ARS, Plant Genetic Resources Unit (PGRU) in Geneva, N.Y., and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Horticulture Section has been promoted to GS14 in the ARS career ladder system.

Fazio joined PGRU in 2001 and since then has been leading the joint USDA-ARS and Cornell University Apple Rootstock Breeding Program. He is internationally recognized as a breeder and developer of several Geneva® apple rootstocks. Under his leadership, production of the first highly productive apple rootstocks resistant to fire blight and wooly apple aphid and replant-tolerant went from a few thousand per year in 2001 to 6 million in 2015. That effort earned the team both the USDA-ARS 2014 North Atlantic Area Technology Transfer Award and the 2015 Federal Laboratory Consortium “Excellence in Technology Transfer” award.

Fazio has been consulted by scientific and industry representatives from all over the world engaged in the application of rootstock technologies. He has authored or co-authored 47 peer reviewed publications and produced 18 issued plant patents or plant breeder’s rights and authored or co-authored 14 publications in trade journals.

Congratulations Larry and Gennaro!

Online organic gardening course starts May 9

Raised bed vegetable gardenThe Horticulture Sections’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 May 9 to June 20, 2016, 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.

Questions? Please contact the instructor, Fiona Doherty:

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:

Nature Rx wants you to take it outside

beebe lake outlet, gorgeSlope Media [2016-03-15]:

“… How can Cornellians stay constantly flummoxed with all this natural beauty surrounding them?

Nature Rx is a new mental health campaign that works to address this issue. Don Rakow, professor of Horticulture, wants to bring this concept to Cornell, and create a program for students to immerse themselves in their natural surroundings as a way to maintain a healthy mental and physical well-being. He, along with co-chairs of the Student Assembly’s Health and Wellness Committee, Carolina Bieri (Atmospheric Science, ‘16) and Matthew Indimine (Policy Analysis and Management, ‘18) have been working to make Nature Rx happen at Cornell.

“At its core, Nature Rx is an initiative making picturesque strolls through greenery a requirement for a revitalized state of mind and body. They are taking on various projects to put this initiative in full force. They created an app called CU in Nature that displays nearby phenomenal scenes of nature, where are the closest ones, what are the features of the near ones, so over time they can explore the whole diversity of natural areas. Additionally, outreach education has created a new credit course for freshmen students called ‘Take It Outside,’ which would be held in the Cornell Plantations and students can explore hiking trails, swim outdoors near campus and take jogs through planned routes.”

Read the whole article.

Elizabeth Bihn named Executive Director of the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell

Betsy Bihn

Betsy Bihn

CALS Notes [2016-03-15]:

Elizabeth “Betsy” Bihn, PhD, has been appointed Executive Director of the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University. Established in December 2015 with a $2 million state grant, the Institute for Food Safety at Cornell University is a center unique in its comprehensive approach connecting training and applied research to support the implementation of practices that reduce foodborne illness. The institute will harness Cornell’s existing strengths across food production systems in fruits, vegetables, and dairy foods to help growers and processors meet food safety challenges such as complying with new demands in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act.

“The Institute for Food Safety is a great opportunity to build on already established programs at Cornell in order to meet new challenges that face farmers, small processors, and the whole food industry,” said Bihn. “These challenges include requirements in the Food Safety Modernization Act, buyer demand for food safety practices, consumer demand for local foods grown in sustainable ways, and many other evolving needs that are developing daily.”

Bihn and the Institute are based at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, N.Y., and she is a minor faculty member of the Graduate Field of Horticulture

Read the whole article.

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