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They said it – Gulf ‘dead zone’ edition

Laurie Drinkwater“Given the pivotal role of tile drainage in transporting fertilizer nitrogen from agricultural fields to streams and rivers, we need to consider some form of regulation if we expect to reverse hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Laurie Drinkwater, associate professor, Dept. of Horticulture, in a November 23 Cornell Chronicle article, Study: Midwest farm drainage systems partly to blame for Gulf of Mexico dead zones

Drinkwater goes on to say that policymakers need to increase incentives that reward environmentally beneficial farming practices. Currently, direct payments to farmers focus on production outcomes and do not sufficiently emphasize environmental stewardship, she added.

Read the whole article.

Sam Bosco attending UNFCCC COP16

Sam BoscoDepartment of Horticulture graduate student Sam Bosco (right) is one of 24 Cornell students attending the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – Conference of Parties 16 (UNFCCC COP16) to be held in Cancun, Mexico, November 29 to December 10.

“One of our goals is to inform the Cornell community about what is going on at the COP and be able to have people at Cornell ask us questions that we seek answers to at the convention,” says Bosco, who is blogging about his experiences at 2sidesofCOP16.

To find out more about Cornell’s delegation and to pose questions for them to investigate, visit the Cornell University – COP 16 page at Cornell’s Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future website.

“I’d like to thank the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future for providing the financial, academic, and creative support that has allowed so many varied people to attend,” says Bosco.

Christine Hadekel in Kenya

Garden-Based Learning Program staff member Christine Hadekel has continued her commitment to empowering people through gardening while working on her Master of Public Administration with a concentration in International Development Studies.

Christine was featured in the new brochure from Cornell’s Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, where she says:

“As a recipient of an Einaudi Travel Grant, I had the incredible opportunity of traveling to Kenya. I hope my research will provide policy makers with a comprehensive analysis of how the home-grown school feeding program could be a replicable model for fostering food security in communities not only in Kenya, but throughout the developing world.”

Caption:  Christine Hadekel with schoolchildren in Kitui, Kenya, summer 2010.

Caption: Christine Hadekel with schoolchildren in Kitui, Kenya, summer 2010.

Poinsettia Sale Dec. 6 & 7

Bring color to your holidays while you support Hortus Forum.  (Click image to enlarge.)

Bring color to your holidays while you support Hortus Forum. (Click image to enlarge.)

Cornell’s student horticulture club, Hortus Forum, presents it’s annual Poinsettia Sale:

December 6 & 7
8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
KPL Greenhouses

[View map]

Traditional reds as well as other colorful varieties:

4” mini-pots: $8
($7 if you pre-order by Dec. 3)
6” pots: $12
($10 if you pre-order by Dec. 3)
10” pots: $25
($20 if you pre-order by Dec. 3)

On-campus delivery of orders of 5 or more plants available for extra charge.

If you have questions or would like to pre-order, contact Heather Lee at

Live view of the poinsettias via the Dept. of Horticulture greenhouse cam.

Proceeds help fund Hortus Forum’s educational field trips and other activities.

Poinsettias at the Kenneth Post Lab greenhouses

Poinsettias at the Kenneth Post Lab greenhouses

Conservatory meeting Nov. 17

Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory, Cornell University, November 15, 2010

Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory, Cornell University, November 15, 2010

A meeting with Senior Associate Dean Jan Nyrop to discuss the teaching functions of Cornell’s greenhouses will be held Nov. 17 at 4:30 p.m. in 404 Plant Science Building.

Yesterday, the Cornell Chronicle published this article online. Here are some excerpts:

Conservatory Greenhouse closes over safety concerns

CALS leadership still committed to meeting conservatory greenhouse need

After 79 years of use by plant science faculty, students, staff and the public, the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory Greenhouse was closed last month by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences due to health and safety concerns. …

In 2008, the college sought to restore the Conservatory Greenhouse. An architectural firm specializing in preservation and restoration and specialists in greenhouse and conservatory preservation were retained, funds were set aside and bids requested. The bids received were dramatically higher than the college’s original estimate of $1 million or even the consultants’ revised estimate of $1.8 million, coming in at around $2.3 million — or more than $600 per square foot.

Currently, CALS has a critical need to renovate or replace 65 percent of the college’s greenhouses, and the college’s administration is considering how to meet the need for a conservatory in the context of CALS’ overall greenhouse needs.

“CALS has been working on a plan for the past four years to ensure the presence of appropriate, sustainable greenhouse facilities to ensure our teaching, outreach and research needs, as part of a greenhouse renewal initiative,” said Kathryn Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of Agriculture and Life Sciences. “Financial resources have been set aside for a conservatory greenhouse and are secure. However, these resources are not unlimited and, therefore, must be used wisely and effectively to ensure CALS’ ability to meet the needs of our mission into the future.” …

Marvin Pritts, chair of the Department of Horticulture, said that while he would prefer to see the current “character-filled” structure restored, he understands that it is financially not feasible and sees opportunities for increased engagement with students and the public with a new, more accessible structure and expanded opportunities for more diverse research. …

“There will be a conservatory in CALS, and there will be continued support for the educational mission of the Liberty Hyde Bailey Conservatory Greenhouse,” said Jan Nyrop, senior associate dean. “The conservatory function may be provided via a new greenhouse or by modifying and updating an existing structure. Either way, the college is mindful that any solution needs to be sustainable.”

Read the whole article.

Janick recognized as outstanding CALS alumnus

Jules JanickJules Janick ’51 was one of five outstanding College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alumni honored November 5, 2010, at a reception and dinner at the Statler Hotel.

Janick, who has been at Purdue University since 1951, is widely regarded as one of the world’s most highly respected and best known horticulturists. He has led a distinguished career and continues to teach undergraduates, edit publications in horticulture and plant breeding, and participate in research on fruit breeding and horticultural history and iconography.

Among numerous honors, in 2009 Janick was inducted into the American Society for Horticultural Science Hall of Fame—the society’s highest honor.

Read full tribute.

Local Food & Fiber Fair, Mann Library, Nov. 18

From Eveline Ferretti, Mann Library.

Mann food and fiber fair

Cornell is hosting the 2nd annual Local Food and Fiber Fair from 1-7 pm on Thursday, November 18 in the lobby of Albert R. Mann Library.

The fair’s goal is to build connections and raise awareness about the variety of activities on- and off-campus related to local and regional agriculture and food systems, and their links to healthy and resilient individuals, families and communities. All events are free and open to the public.

The day’s program will include:

  • Lightning Presentations and Networking, 1-2pm, Room 160 –Participating presenters will share brief descriptions of their work and activities in supporting sustainable agriculture, food systems, rural economies, and community nutrition.
  • Food & Fiber Market, 2:30-6pm, Mann Lobby –An open market that celebrates the bounty of the Ithaca area, featuring displays by Cornell and Ithaca-area programs that support sustainable local agricultural systems and healthy nutrition as well as local vendors offering a wide array of fresh, locally produced vegetables, meat, cheeses, honey, wool and other fiber products and more.
  • Film showing, A Farm for the Future, 6-7:30 pm, Room 160 –The New World Agriculture and Ecology Group, the Development Sociology Graduate Student Collectivity and the Cornell Gourmet Club will be hosting a showing of the acclaimed BBC production exploring strategies for sustainable farming in a post-peak oil world. Discussion to follow….and local popcorn served!

If you have any questions, please contact Eveline Ferretti at

Dec. 15 deadline for Toward Sustainability Foundation grants

This year’s deadline for submission of proposals for Toward Sustainability Foundation grants is December 15. There are two RFPs:

International Research from CALS Graduate Students:

View full RFP.

Preference for funding will be given to international (non US citizen) graduate students with PhD research situated in developing nations, focused on environmental sustainability, food security, and organic production systems. Use of TSF funds is restricted to student living expenses during the international fieldwork, on-site research expenses and supplies, and essential travel for the proposed research or outreach activities. Successful proposals will be funded at a maximum of $5,000 for a one-year period beginning Feb. 1, 2011.

Organic Agriculture Research, Teaching & Outreach

View the full RFP.

The Department of Horticulture at Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) requests proposals from Cornell staff and students, Cooperative Extension educators, and New York organic farmers for innovative research, teaching and outreach projects in organic farming and food system sustainability. Use of TSF funds is restricted to student or staff wages and salaries, materials and supplies, essential travel, and other direct essential expenses of the proposed research, teaching or outreach activities.

Goals of the TSF Organic Grants Program for 2011:

  • Develop, evaluate, strengthen, and disseminate knowledge about organic gardening and farming.
  • Encourage and support systems-level studies on environmental and economic impacts, energy efficiency, social equality, and local or regional sustainability of organic farms and food systems.
  • Improve and expand organic systems knowledge and information through the Cornell Cooperative Extension and Master Gardener networks, within Cornell’s teaching programs, and at farms, agricultural and food processing facilities, and family gardens throughout NY and the Northeast.
  • Promote novel approaches for research, extension, and teaching programs that enhance the sustainability and knowledge foundation for organic farming and gardening.

Priorities for Funding in 2011:

  • Projects involving Cornell undergraduate and graduate students, and organic farmers in lead roles.
  • Projects that improve energy efficiency and sustainability of agriculture and gardening.
  • Projects that investigate key ecological processes and environmental impacts of organic and alternative farms or food systems.
  • Projects that promote carbon sequestration, soil and water resources, human and wildlife habitat, and other vital ecosystem services in farms, gardens, natural areas, and managed landscapes.

Making Cornell Cider

CornellCast video by Charles Walcott shows how it’s made.

Cider press at Cornell Orchards

Cider press at Cornell Orchards

Cornell makes about 2,000 gallons of cider a week. Fruit is picked from Cornell Orchards where it is sold fresh in the store or pressed into cider. The raw cider is pasteurized and bottled by Cornell Dairy in Stocking Hall.

Cornell Orchards is a working orchard, vineyard and fruit farm managed by the Department of Horticulture.

Produce safety focus of new Cornell-based organization

Nov. 4 CALS news release. See also Cornell Chronicle article.

Cornell University, U.S. government launch new $1.15 million produce safety alliance

November 4, 2010

ITHACA, N.Y. – A new public-private organization based at Cornell University is being created to help produce growers and packagers promote safety and prepare for future federal safety regulations.

Cornell, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service announced the creation of the Produce Safety Alliance today.

The three-year, $1.15 million partnership is funded by the FDA and USDA, and will be housed at Cornell through a grant from the Agricultural Marketing Service. Officials said the move will extend Cornell’s national Good Agricultural Practices program, which has been a leader in the development of materials on GAPs and in its dissemination of food safety knowledge to the agricultural community.

Key elements of the Produce Safety Alliance’s work will include:

  • Developing a standardized, multi-format and multi-lingual education program on good agricultural practices.
  • Creating an information bank of up-to-date scientific and technical data related to on-farm and packinghouse produce safety; eventually including the FDA’s proposed produce safety rule.
  • Launching a website to make the alliance’s work and information readily accessible.
  • Establishing a network of educational collaborators.

In 2011, the FDA is expected to issue a proposed rule on the safe production, harvesting and packing of produce.

The alliance is aimed at giving produce growers and packers training and educational materials so they can learn about food safety best practices and future regulatory requirements. In addition to Cornell, the FDA, and the Agricultural Marketing Service, the alliance will have representatives from the Association of Food and Drug Officials, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, land grant universities, growers and shippers, produce trade organizations, and the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

“In our 12-plus years of working with growers and packers on how best to implement GAPs, we have seen how much they want to do the right thing and meet the industry demand for food safety,” said Betsy Bihn, coordinator of Cornell University’s National GAPs Program. “What growers and packers want is science-based information they can use in the fields and the packing houses to improve food safety practices in practical ways. Our goal is to meet that need today and down the road as FDA moves forward in its rulemaking process.”

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