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Ithaca Applefest sales aid Cornell SOHO members

Reposted from CALS Notes:

Members of the Cornell University Society of Horticulture for Graduate Students (SOHO) are selling 18 different varieties of apples this weekend during the Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival. The festival marks the biggest fundraiser of the year for SOHO, with sales helping to defray costs and fund activities throughout the school year.

More than just a fundraiser, the event helps the club get involved in the community.

“It’s a great way for us to reach out to folks in Ithaca,” said Miles S. Sax, a graduate student who has helped staff the booth for the last few years. “You start to have people come back who tried this weird, unnamed variety that they’ve never had before, and they come back and want to try it again,” he said.

Sax was joined by fellow graduate students Zach Stansell and Laura Dougherty on Friday afternoon. Be sure to stop by their booth on the east end of The Commons during the festival, which runs until 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Zach Stansell and Laura Dougherty

Zach Stansell and Laura Dougherty preparing samples.

 Miles S. Sax

Miles S. Sax bagging apples.

More images on CALS Facebook.

The plants are coming home …

… to the new Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory Greenhouse.

CUAES staff stage large specimens in the Student House section of the  new Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory Greenhouse in preparation for moving them into the Palm House.

CUAES staff stage large specimens in the Student House section of the new Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory Greenhouse in preparation for moving them into the Palm House.

Thursday, Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station staff moved three trailer loads of larger specimens from the Kenneth Post Lab greenhouse complex where the collection has been housed since the old conservatory closed in 2010.

The new conservatory is located in the same spot on Tower Road outside of the Plant Science Building as the original greenhouse, which was designed by architects Lord & Burnham Co. in 1931 for Liberty Hyde Bailey, the first dean of the College of Agriculture and a prominent palm taxonomist.

The conservatory houses one of several plant collections that make up the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium  in the Plant Biology Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science. The collection numbers more than 650 species (including Cornell’s popular Titan Arums) that play a vital role in teaching, research and outreach.

Staff moved the mostly tropical plants before the weather turns too cold to damage them in transit. (Smaller plants will follow, but can be moved later in heated vans.) The large plants are being staged in the Student House section of the conservatory closest to the Plant Science Building. But they will soon be moved into the planting bed in the Palm House section closest to Tower Road.

Once all the plants have been moved and settled in to their new home, hours when the public is welcome to visit will be announced.

Susan Brown, Geneva apple breeding program featured at

Susan Brown

Susan Brown

From [2015-09-27]:

Since the late 1890s, scientists at the [New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva] have painstakingly developed 66 new apple varieties. It’s the nation’s oldest and largest apple development program.

Susan Brown, an associate dean at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who oversees the Geneva apple program, is the mastermind pulling the genetic strings.

She is responsible for developing new apple varieties, and does everything from picking the apple’s parents to tasting apples and releasing the new apple trees.

“I choose which apple is the mother or father, and then I breed them,” Brown said. “It’s like shuffling cards, and then you pick and choose which varieties you want.

“I get to be like a detective, investigating and learning about things like diseases and insects, and running tests. Then I get to try new apples that no one has ever tasted before.”

Read the whole article: Mother of apple invention: Meet the woman, research center behind NY’s newest apples.

Winemaker, tastemaker

trent preszler

Trent Preszler

Reposted from Cornell Chronicle blog [2015-09-24]

Trent Preszler, M.S. ’02, Ph.D. ’12, a winemaker and boat builder, has been named one of Out Magazine’s Top 10 Tastemakers for 2015.

The magazine writes: “It’s not surprising that a kid who grew up on a cattle ranch in South Dakota would himself end up working in the fields, but Preszler’s journey to a Long Island winery turned on a simple choice he made as a student. Invited to decide between two research grants at Cornell, one to examine Holland’s flower industry, and the other to analyze the market for New York wines, Preszler chose the latter. The result was a 300-page master’s thesis that won him an award from Cornell and a job offer from Bedell Cellars, where Preszler quickly put his insights into practice.

Today, Bedell is one of the stars of American wine: Its 2009 merlot was served at President Obama’s 2013 inaugural luncheon. Another distinction? Bedell regularly invites some of America’s most acclaimed artists, such as Chuck Close, Ross Bleckner and Mickalene Thomas, to design its wine labels, treating each commission as a unique portrait of the wine’s essence.”

Join the Dilmun Hill student farm steering committee (Deadline: October 14)

Dilmun Hill — recently named one of the Top 10 College Farms in the U.S. — is looking for students to join our steering committee.


We are a student-run farm that has been practicing sustainable agriculture on Cornell’s campus since 1996. Our community is the backbone of the farm – it makes it all work, and it makes it fun. Running a student farm is as much about organizing, budgeting, and growing vegetables as it is about working jointly as a team.

The Steering Committee is in charge of planning and implementing policy and aiding the managers in the operation of the farm. The committee meets about every other week during the school year, and consists of the current farm managers, the student researchers, the organic farm coordinator, and a group of student volunteers who apply for the position. Committee members also help with field work and are eligible for independent study credits. Interested? Apply now. Questions? Contact the managers at


Monday seminar: The Invention of Nature

Horticulture seminar series presents historian and author Andrea Wulf speaking on her new book:
Alexander von Humboldt and the Invention of Nature
Monday, September 28, 2015 at 12:20pm to 1:10pm
Note location: Riley Robb, 125

Book synopsis from Wulf’s website:

invention of nature coverThe Invention of Nature reveals the extraordinary life of the visionary German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859) and how he created the way we understand nature today. Though almost forgotten today, his name lingers everywhere from the Humboldt Current to the Humboldt penguin.

Humboldt was an intrepid explorer and the most famous scientist of his age. His restless life was packed with adventure and discovery, whether climbing the highest volcanoes in the world, paddling down the Orinoco or racing through anthrax–infested Siberia.

Perceiving nature as an interconnected global force, Humboldt discovered similarities between climate zones across the world and predicted human-induced climate change. He turned scientific observation into poetic narrative, and his writings inspired naturalists and poets such as Darwin, Wordsworth and Goethe but also politicians such as Jefferson.

Wulf also argues that it was Humboldt’s influence that led John Muir to his ideas of preservation and that shaped Thoreau’s ‘Walden’. Wulf traces Humboldt’s influences through the great minds he inspired in revolution, evolution, ecology, conservation, art and literature. In The Invention of Nature, Wulf brings this lost hero to science and the forgotten father of environmentalism back to life.

Humboldt was, after all, as one contemporary said, ‘the greatest man since the Deluge’.

Biotechnology Benefits webinar series starts today

Kenong Xu (Photo: Robyn Wishna/Cornell University)

Kenong Xu will speak on Getting Ready for the Coming Arctic Apples in Part 3 of the webinar. (Photo: Robyn Wishna/Cornell University)

From Lori Brewer:

Webinars are open to all. We hope we are joined by youth, classrooms, educators, volunteers, gardeners, growers and other interested citizens from throughout our communities.

Three Part Webinar Series:
Biotechnology Benefits in Food Production Systems

Turn to your favorite news outlet and chances are you will hear biotechnology mentioned. Just what is biotech? Have you ever eaten genetically engineered food? How will biotechnology affect the environment?

In this three-part webinar series a panel of six university researchers share perspectives about the application of biotechnology in our food production systems. Each session will end with an audience Q & A. Join our conversations. Be inspired to move beyond denial or unquestioning acceptance to meaningfully participate in discussions where science is key source of knowledge in decision-making.

Part 1: Wednesday, September 23, 2015 12:00 noon – 1:00 pm

  • Resistance to Viruses in Plants: A Successful Application of Biotechnology Dr. Marc Fuchs – Associate Professor, School of Integrative Plant Science, Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology Section, Cornell University, NYS Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, NY
  • Breeding: Workhorse of Agriculture Sustainability Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam – Cooperative Extension Specialist, Animal Genomics and Biotechnology, Department of Animal Science, UCDavis, Davis, CA

Join this session via:
Use password: Cce2015!

Part 2: Wednesday September 30, 2015 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

  • What is GMO Anyway? Dr. Peggy G. Lemaux – Cooperative Extension Specialist, Department of Plant and Microbial Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA
  • What Would Rachel Carson Say About Biotechnology? Dr. Tony Shelton – International Professor, Department of Entomology, Assoc. Director of International Programs, Cornell University, NYSAES, Geneva, NY

Join this session via:
Use password: Cce2015!

Part 3: Monday, October 5, 2015 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm

  • How the Trees got their Shape Dr. Chris Dardick – Plant Molecular Biologist/Pathologist, USDA ARS Appalachian Fruit Research Station, Kearneysville, WV
  • Getting Ready for the Coming Arctic Apples Dr. Kenong Xu – Assistant Professor of Tree Fruit Genomics, Horticulture Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University, NYS Agricultural Experiment Station, Geneva, NY

Join this session via:
Use password: Cce2015!

This series of webinars is organized by Lori Brewer and Kenong Xu with funding support from an NSF-Plant Genome Research Program grant award (IOS-1339211).

Horticulture community pays tribute to Chris Wien


Colleagues and co-workers, friends and family, and students new and old gathered Friday to pay tribute to Horticulture professor Chris Wien as he prepares for retirement this fall.

Wien, who ‘wrote the book’ on The Physiology of Vegetable Crops, came to Cornell in the ’60s after completing his BS at at The University of Toronto in Guelph, Ontario.  He received his PhD in Vegetable Crops from Cornell in 1971, and returned as assistant professor in 1979 after working abroad as a research scientist studying grain legume physiology in Nigeria. He served as department chair from 1996 through 2002.

In additon to his vegetable physiology work, Wien has researched cut flower production, led outreach projects encouraging the use of high tunnels among both growers and in school gardens, and continued his international work in Africa, working with smallholder horticulturists in Zimbabwe.

One highlight of the tribute came when Dean Kathryn Boor revealed that Wien is the anonymous donor whose generosity established the Cornell Assistantship for Horticulture in Africa (CAHA),  which provides doctoral assistantships in the Graduate Field of Horticulture to students from Sub-Saharan Africa. Charles Wasonga (PhD ’10) was the first CAHA student to earn a doctorate. The second, Semagn Kolech, is finishing his doctorate this fall, and a third CAHA recipient will begin studies at Cornell in 2016.

Congratulations, Chris. You’ve set a high bar for professionalism, caring and generosity. We will strive to live up to your example and wish you well in retirement.

Dean Kathryn Boor thanked Wien for his service and generosity -- especially for his role in the establishment of the Cornell Assistantship for Horticulture in Africa (CAHA).

Dean Kathryn Boor thanked Wien for his service and generosity — especially for his role in establishing of the Cornell Assistantship for Horticulture in Africa (CAHA).

Six former and current chairs helped celebrate Wien’s career (left to right): Alan Taylor (Horticultural Science – Geneva), Marvin Pritts (Horticulture), Steve Reiners (current chair, Horticulture Section), Tom Weiler (Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture), Elmer Ewing (Vegetable Crops, Fruit and Vegetable Science), Hugh Price (Horticultural Science – Geneva), Chris Wien (Fruit and Vegetable Science, Horticulture).

Six former and current chairs helped celebrate Wien’s career (left to right): Alan Taylor (Horticultural Science – Geneva), Marvin Pritts (Horticulture), Steve Reiners (current chair, Horticulture Section), Tom Weiler (Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture), Elmer Ewing (Vegetable Crops, Fruit and Vegetable Science), Hugh Price (Horticultural Science – Geneva), Chris Wien (Fruit and Vegetable Science, Horticulture).

Horticulture Section chair Steve Reiners and others noted that Wien 'wrote the book' on vegetable crop physiology.

Horticulture Section chair Steve Reiners and others noted that Wien ‘wrote the book’ on vegetable crop physiology.

Ecological design seminar Sept. 23

From Nina Bassuk:

Department of Landscape Architecture Lecture Series
Integrating Design, Ecology, and Human Cultural Needs in Naturalistic Urban Planning
James Hitchmough, Horticultural Ecology, University of Sheffield
Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 12:15pm to 1:15pm
Kennedy Hall, 461

seminar poster




Registration now open for online permaculture design course

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 26 to December 10, 2015 through the Horticulture section’s distance learning program. Space is limited to 20 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 Section 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.