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High tunnel rises at Dilmun Hill Student Farm

A production-scale high tunnel is rising at Dilmun Hill Student Farm. Once complete, it will not only extend the growing season for the farm, but also serve as an educational resource for the many classes that visit the farm.  A high tunnel production workshop series is being planned in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension that will draw on the knowledge and experience of faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates across many different departments.

Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES) staff, along with members of the Dilmun Hill Steering Committee, have been laying the groundwork at the high tunnel site since early spring, grading the land, spreading and incorporating compost, and installing the foundation. This past Wednesday afternoon, they made short work of installing the frame. (See time-lapse video.)

The high tunnel was made possible by the Toward Sustainability Foundation grant program. Undergraduate Steering Committee member and former Dilmun Hill Farm Manager Alena Hutchinson (Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, ’18) secured funding for the tunnel, and worked with builder Howard Hoover of Penn Yan, N.Y., to design a custom tunnel to meet the specialized needs of small- and medium-sized growers in Upstate New York.

The tunnel will feature a solar-powered, automated sidewall system designed by Hutchinson and fellow undergraduate engineering students to make ventilating the structure easier.

Another innovative feature of the high tunnel:  It is mounted on rails, so that the tunnel can be easily moved between two different growing areas.  Along with increasing production capacity, this design has environmental benefits, such as making crop rotation possible and allowing rain to leach salt from soil, avoiding the salt build up that can be a problem with stationary high tunnels.

Detailed design plans and assembly manuals for all aspects of the tunnel will be available upon the tunnel’s completion. For questions and/or if you want to be involved in the project, contact Alena Hutchinson (amh345@cornell.edu).

Hutchinson and CUAES technician Ethan Tilebein begin rafter intallation.

Hutchinson and CUAES technician Ethan Tilebein begin rafter intallation.

Betsy Leonard, CUAES organic farm coordinator, and Glen Evans, CUAES operations director, install sidewalls.

Betsy Leonard, CUAES organic farm coordinator, and Glen Evans, CUAES operations director, install sidewalls.

Anja Timm, CUAES communications coordinator, Hutchinson and Evans work on sidewall. Note roller and rail that allow the high tunnel to be moved easily.

Anja Timm, CUAES communications coordinator, Hutchinson and Evans work on sidewall. Note roller and rail (lower right) that allow the high tunnel to be moved easily.

Tilebein, Hutchinson and Thompson Research Farm farm manager Steve McKay install rafters.

Tilebein, Hutchinson and CUAES Thompson Research Farm farm manager Steve McKay install rafters.

McKay secures ridgepole.

McKay secures ridgepoles.


Update [2017-07-29]

On June 28, while still under construction, the tunnel took it’s first trip, traveling from a fallow area to an area newly planted with tomatoes, peppers and eggplant.

Undergrads study medicinal plants in the Dominican Republic

Aregullin and students in the Dominican Republic.

Aregullin and students in the Dominican Republic.

This summer, Manuel Aregullin, senior research associate in the Plant Biology Section, led a group of Cornell undergraduates on a trip to the Dominican Republic to study Caribbean plant-based medicinal practices  that coexist with Western medicine in the treatment of disease.

The students developed projects that investigated the pharmacology of some prominent native species at a laboratory facility located in Punta Cana, and will present results at undergraduate symposia and conferences.

Aregullin is also director of Cornell’s Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training (MHIRT) Program

The project was funded by the National Institutes of Health and included faculty mentors from Cornell, the University of Santo Domingo, Yale and Florida International University.

‘Rice Bowl’ bioswale update

One of the projects tackled  in spring 2014 by students in the course Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design, and Landscape Establishment (HORT/LA 4910/4920)  was the installation of water retention bioswales east of Rice Hall. Dubbed the “Rice Bowls,” the structures are designed to reduce runoff and increase infiltration of water from adjacent parking lots. Students selected species that can tolerate dry periods as well as periodic flooding, such as Shining Sumac, Bayberry, Blackhaw, Spirea, Sea Buckthorn and certain Willows.

This short video shows the installation process and includes updates on the planting, showing how they filled in well despite suffering through both wet and dry seasons.

Plant Sciences Major to receive Potato Growers Scholarship

Morning Ag Clips [2016-06-28]

Cassandra Proctor of Trumansburg, NY, has been named the 2016 Empire State Potato Growers Association Scholarship winner and will receive a $500 scholarship per academic year for up to four consecutive years of agricultural education at a college in New York State.

Cassandra will graduate from Charles O. Dickerson High School in Trumansburg in June. She plans to begin her pursuit of a degree in plant sciences at Cornell University in the fall. Her career goal is to earn a PhD in plant genetics and to research ways to improve plant yield and suitability for impoverished areas.

As a high school senior, she served as an FFA Co-Treasurer, and participated in the Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga New Visions in Life Sciences Program that allowed her to intern in the Boyce Thompson Institute plant genetics research lab at Cornell University.

Cassandra was selected to attend the Global Youth Institute hosted by the World Food Prize Foundation in Iowa in 2015. This summer Cassie will travel to the Phillipines on an eight-week Borlaug Ruan International Internship at the International Rice Research Institute.

Read the whole article.

Cassandra Proctor (Photo: Boyce Thompson Institute)

Cassandra Proctor (Photo: Boyce Thompson Institute)

New Wine Scent Garden planted

wine scent garden

A collaboration between Food Science lecturer Kathleen Arnink and Urban Horticulture Institute director Nina Bassuk came to fruition this week when Bassuk and her staff planted a new Wine Scent Garden along the south side of Stocking Hall.

“The garden will be used by Viticulture and Enology students to train themselves to identify odors that are perceived in wines,” says Arnink, who teaches courses such as Introduction to Wines and Vines and Principles and Practices of Growing Grapes and Making Wines.

“This fall, students in the Wines and Vines lab will spend time in the garden exploring and sniffing with labels near the plants to help them learn the correct terminology to use when they smell these odors in wines,” adds Arnink. “I can also cover the labels later to quiz them to see what they’ve learned.”

Some of the common wine aromas represented in the garden include:

  • Rose, found in Muscat grapes and wines
  • Lemon, lime, pineapple and grass, perceived in many white wines
  • Licorice, curry, chocolate and tobacco, common descriptors for red wine odors

Bassuk’s planting list included several mints (Mentha spp.) and scented geraniums (Pelargonium spp.), bronze fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), curry plant (Helichrysum italicum), bee balm (Monarda spp.) and more.

The close proximity to classrooms in Stocking Hall is a big plus. “During crush, when students are making wines, it will be handy to say to them, ‘Run out and sniff these plants, and see if you can smell those odors in your Riesling.’”

 

Scenes from Commencement 2016

Frank Rossi, Marvin Pritts and Justine Vanden Heuvel cook up breakfast for Plant Science graduates and their families.

Frank Rossi, Marvin Pritts and Justine Vanden Heuvel cook up Commencement breakfast for Plant Science graduates and their families.

Don Viands recognizes the top three Plant Sciences seniors with the Ring Memorial Award.

Don Viands recognizes the top three Plant Sciences seniors with the Ring Memorial Award.

Breanna Wong (second from left) poses with friends before procession.

Breanna Wong (second from left) poses with friends before procession.

Dhruv Patel shoots a selfie.

Dhruv Patel shoots a selfie.

Christian Lesage and Patrick McLoughlin during procession to commencement ceremony.

Christian Lesage and Patrick McLoughlin during Commencement procession.

Alan Collmer, director of the School of Integrative Plant Science, welcomes graduates and their families to the Plant Science Recognition Ceremony.

Alan Collmer, director of the School of Integrative Plant Science, welcomes graduates and their families to the Plant Science Recognition Ceremony. (Photo: Jenn Thomas-Murphy.)

Director of Undergraduate Studies Marvin Pritts (left) and SIPS section chairs Steve Reiners, Gary Bergstrom, Jeff Doyle, Tim Setter and William Crepet at the ceremony.

Director of Undergraduate Studies Marvin Pritts (left) and SIPS section chairs Steve Reiners, Gary Bergstrom, Jeff Doyle, Tim Setter and William Crepet at the ceremony. (Photo: Jenn Thomas-Murphy.)

Commencement prelude

Volunteers fashion commencement boutonnières from orchids for graduating Plant Science Majors and graduate students from the five Graduate Fields associated with the School of Integrative Plant Science.

Clock wise from upper left: Violet Stone, Magdalen Lindeberg, Marvin Pritts, Leah Cook, Bridget Cristelli, Karin Jantz and Steve Reiners.

Clockwise from upper left: Violet Stone, Magdalen Lindeberg, Marvin Pritts, Leah Cook, Bridget Cristelli, Karin Jantz and Steve Reiners.

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Some of the soon-to-be-graduating Plant Science Majors gathered Wednesday for the annual ‘exit luncheon’ – an informal chance for them to share feedback about the program and make suggestions on how to improve the experience for future Majors. They took time out for a group shot in the Palm Room of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory.

Left to right: Jason Gregory, Ryan Walker, Patrick McLoughlin, Plant Sciences Undergraduate Program Coordinator Leah Cook, Breanna Wong and Katharine Constas.

Left to right: Jason Gregory, Ryan Walker, Patrick McLoughlin, Plant Sciences Undergraduate Program Coordinator Leah Cook, Breanna Wong and Katharine Constas.

Other Class of ’16 Plant Science Majors not pictured: Julian DeLellis-Mitch, Josh Kaste, Christian Lesage, Zach Lingskoog, Justin Lombardoni, Catherine Migneco, Sarah Odell, Dhruv Patel, Yuanhan Wu, Qiuchen Yang.

Good luck, graduates!

Student exploration: Healing starts with everyday plants

Laura Lagunez '16, left, and Camila Martinez, a graduate student in the field of plant biology, examine plants in Belize during their spring break. (Photo: Sierra Murray)

Laura Lagunez ’16, left, and Camila Martinez, a graduate student in the field of plant biology, examine plants in Belize during their spring break. (Photo: Sierra Murray)

Cornell Chronicle [2016-05-19]:

Stretching beyond the “apple a day” adage, Cornell students explored a natural area in Ithaca and villages in Belize to learn how common plant life helps alleviate ailments.

“In Belize, use of healing plants is a centuries-old tradition that’s being lost because fewer young people are pursuing plant medicine,” said senior lecturer Marcia Eames-Sheavly, who teaches Healing Plants and the People Who Use Them.

Said Eames-Sheavly, “It’s fascinating that here in the U.S., the interest in healing plants seems to be exploding.”

Read the whole article.

More information:

‘Healing Plants and the People Who Use Them’ final project presentations May 16

In Healing Plants and the People Who Use Them, I ceased to be a walking résumé.

Students in PLHRT 4940, Healing Plants and the People Who Use Them, spent spring break working with and learning from Mayan healers in Belize and herbalists in the Ithaca area.  They will provide an overview of their experiences and present their final projects on May 16 from 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. in 102 Mann Library.

What makes the course special? Instructor Marcia Eames-Sheavly, a senior lecturer and senior Extension associate in the Horticulture Section of Cornell’s School of Integrative Plant Science explains:

Students in the Ithaca group work with local herbalists to prepare herbal infusions (Photo: Isabel Gareau)

Students in the Ithaca group work with local herbalists to prepare herbal infusions (Photo: Isabel Gareau)

The course syllabus for PLHRT 4940: Healing Plants and the People Who Use Them begins with an intention:

  • What are the various roles of plants in our lives?
  • What is a community, and in that community, what are people’s ways of understanding and knowing?
  • And, who are you?

Whatever your answer to these questions, and whatever it includes at this juncture of your life, our hope is that if you intentionally engage in PLHRT 4940, by semester’s end, your ideas of the value of plants…of community…and of self, are going to be changed.

During the first half of the semester, the students participated in diverse classroom activities to prepare them to make the most of their experience. That meant more than just learning how to identify plants. As a team, we engaged students in topics ranging from ethics and cultural sensitivity to appropriate use of technology and how to ask good questions. And teamwork was key. As the students worked and planned together, they learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They learned that they didn’t need to know it all if they could work together.

During the 2016 spring break, we divided into two groups. One group traveled to the Toledo District of Belize to work with Mayan healers. The other stayed in Ithaca to work with Tammi Sweet, co-founder of the Heartstone Herbal School.

Depending on the location, the students focused on learning traditional plant medicine and the spiritual ecology undergirding it; preserving the wisdom of indigenous healers and their knowledge of medicinal plants; making preparations ranging from salves to soaps; and preparing a new medicinal plants nature trail.  Both groups steeped in reflection about healing plants, the people who use them, and their own journey at these intersections.

Students in the Belize group warm up with plant identification. (Photo: Sierra Murray)

Students in the Belize group warm up with plant identification. (Photo: Sierra Murray)

In Belize, use of healing plants is a centuries-old tradition that’s being lost because fewer young people are pursuing plant medicine.  It’s fascinating that here in the U.S., the interest seems to be exploding. Learning about plant medicine and the people engaged in it has benefits for people around the world, and for the health of our students here at Cornell, too.

Before the course, I had a few friends who studied plants—individuals I met through my cooperative—and had only a vague interest in plants, myself. Now, I have built off that vague interest, learning how everyday plants we walk by on our way to class could actually be useful in our lives. …I have gained friends and developed bonds with individuals who allow me to cultivate this interest further.

Students on their way to a new medicinal plants trail in the forest at Rio Blanco National Park. (Photo: Olivia McCandless)

Students in Belize on their way to a new medicinal plants trail in the forest at Rio Blanco National Park. (Photo: Olivia McCandless)

Understanding the need for a solid undergirding in anthropological perspective, I invited Charis Boke, Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology, to collaborate in teaching. “I was curious to see how my work as a cultural anthropologist would fit in with plant science,” she recalls. But working as part of our teaching team along with horticulture graduate student Grant Thompson and plant biology graduate student Camila Martinez (who both helped lead the Belize trip) to prepare the students for their experiential spring break work turned out to be “…one of the most stimulating teaching experiences I’ve had. Together we were able to create a robustly reflective and engaging cross-disciplinary learning experience for the students.”

After break, students from both groups tackled practical projects primarily aimed at integrating their new-found interests with specific lay audiences. These took forms ranging from narratives based on interviews with healers to lesson plans, a grant proposal rationale, cookbook recipes, how-to flyers on growing medicinal plants, personal essays, maps, and blending teas to help fellow students cope with stress.

“We opened up a place for them to explore their own passions,” says Boke. “Seeing them latch on to these concrete ways that they can insert themselves into the world of people-plant relationships has been really gratifying.”

I have experienced such a holistic form of learning that the class will continue to follow me and my life path—perhaps even guiding my life’s path into the future.

Botanical Illustration Intensive exhibition

Tuesday, students in Intensive Study in Botanical Illustration (PLHRT 3250) exhibited their portfolios in an informal mini-art show in Plant Science 141. The course, taught by Marcia Eames-Sheavly using the Moodle-based distance-learning modules she created  is one of the requirements for the Minor in Horticulture with a Focus in the Botanical Arts.

art show

The artists included:

Anthony Teng

Anthony Teng

Patty Chan

Patty Chan

 

Shujie Li

Shujie Li

Tommi Schieder

Tommi Schieder

Yuxi Xiao had to take an exam and missed the fun.

Yuxi Xiao had to take an exam and missed the fun.

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