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Excellence in IPM: Lucas Greenhouses (video)

When Susan & Tom Palomaki started Lucas Greenhouses in 2005, they didn’t want to be tied to routine spray schedules. So they hired Debbie Palumbo-Sanders to help them find a better, gentler way to cope with pests. We caught up with Susan and Debbie at the 2012 Cornell Floriculture Field day after they accepted their Excellence in IPM award from the New York State IPM program.

Grant fuels ‘back-to-nature’ approach to science teacher education

Master of Arts in Teaching students test soil pH as they explore ways to use nature as their classroom to teach science.

Master of Arts in Teaching students test soil pH as they explore ways to use nature as their classroom to teach science. From left, Josh Davendonis, Marita Wilson, Tony Leong, Jason Rush, Kit Stone, and Bryan Duff, lecturer in the Cornell Teacher Education program.

Cornell Chronicle article, August 28, 2012:

With help from a nearly $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Cornell Teacher Education (CTE) program will transform how it prepares new teachers to educate the next generation of scientists — and citizens.

“To inspire budding scientists and to ensure scientific literacy for everyone, we need teachers who see science everywhere — who can see the world in a blade of grass, to paraphrase Blake and Whitman,” says Bryan Duff, lecturer in the CTE program, which offers teacher certification in the sciences, a Master of Arts in Teaching and an undergraduate minor.

CTE is taking a back-to-nature approach to science education that builds on traditions dating back to the Nature Study Movement, pioneered in part by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Anna Botsford Comstock at Cornell in the mid-19th century.

“Local natural environments are underused in science education,” says Duff. “Biology and earth science are obvious candidates for taking science outdoors, but we believe that chemistry and physics — areas where new teachers are desperately needed — also can benefit from this approach.”

Taking science outdoors increases student engagement and helps them understand the messy nature of science in the real world and appreciate the power of interdisciplinary approaches, Duff adds.

The capacity-building grant from the NSF’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program will help CTE work with university scientists, informal science educators, outdoor educators, secondary science teachers and others to develop new curricula and redesign courses to help teachers in training learn how to use nature as their classroom. It also will support internships and summer teaching opportunities at rural and urban secondary schools to help them put what they’ve learned into practice.

“We’re committed to making this approach work for all students, including those in cities where access to nature may be limited and those with disabilities that may challenge their access and success,” says Duff. This has led to collaborations with the ILR School’s Employment and Disability Institute and other experts to help overcome accessibility barriers.

CTE also is forging links with groups both on and off campus to provide practical experiences for CTE students and to help recruit new students to the program. Collaborations include:

  • The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the Paleontological Research Institution will work with CTE students to develop their public education skills in informal settings.
  • Incoming freshmen can experience the nature study approach on a new Cornell Outdoor Education expedition, then share their new scientific skills by teaching them to local youth.
  • An awards program will recognize undergraduates for their teaching excellence in many roles across campus, from teaching assistants to tutors to Public Service Center program participants.

“We will help our CTE students tap into these opportunities to hone their craft,” says Duff. “But there are other students who may discover through these programs that they truly love teaching, and we can help them pursue that professionally.”

Associate Professor Cole Gilbert, Department of Entomology, is the grant’s principal investigator. Other investigators are Linda Rayor (entomology), Robert Ross (Paleontological Research Institution), Travis Park and Jeff Perry (CTE), and Nancy Hinkley (ILR School, Employment and Disability Institute).

Find more information about CTE at

Online courses for farmers: Registration open

online courses for small farmersFrom Violet Stone, Cornell Small Farm Program:

Small Farmers: Register Now for Fall, Winter and Spring Online Courses

Whether you are a seasoned, new, or aspiring farmer, there’s something for you in the 2012-2013 line-up of online courses presented by the Cornell Small Farms Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension.

There are courses covering commercial production topics like raising veggies, berries, and poultry, and many more covering management of a successful farm, including business planning, holistic financial planning, marketing, and getting started in farming. (View all 12 courses at

Take advantage of this opportunity to interact with other farmers, develop your farming plans, and learn new skills from the comfort of your own home. Most courses are 6 weeks long and a bargain at $200 each.

Full course descriptions, instructor biographies, course logistics and more can be found at Questions? Contact: Erica Frenay at 607-255-9911 or

For more small farm services, visit

Horticulture seminar series begins August 27

The Department of Horticulture Fall 2012 seminar series (HORT 4950/6000) will kick off August 27. Seminars meet most Mondays, 12:20 to 1:10 p.m. in Plant Science Room 404 and via Polycom to Geneva A134 Barton Hall (unless otherwise noted). Everyone is welcome and refreshments are served. Videos of some past seminars are available online.

Tentative schedule as of 8/22/2012 (see seminar series webpage or Cornell events calendar for updates):

Crop biotechnology and its contribution to agricultural productivity, sustainability and human well-being
Peter Davies
Professor, Plant Biology, Cornell University

Labor Day Holiday – No Seminar

Cornell’s role in horticulture in developing nations
Chris Wien
Professor, Horticulture, Cornell University

Making sense of senescence in plants
Susheng Gan
Associate professor, Horticulture, Cornell University

Hops in New York (Presented in Geneva with Polycom to Ithaca.)
Steve Miller
NY Hop Alliance Program Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension

New adventures in vineyard geomatics
Andy Reynolds
Professor of Viticulture, Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute, Brock University

Fall Break – No Seminar

New ways of seeing the plant genome
John Sanford
Courtesy associate professor, Horticulture, Cornell University

Facilitating meaningful learning experiences
T. Grady Roberts
Associate professor, Global Education Lab, University of Florida

Improving the abiotic stress tolerance of floriculture crops – why, how, and who cares?
Neil Mattson
Assistant professor and floriculture extension specialist, Horticulture, Cornell University

Why sorbitol in apple?
Lailiang Cheng
Associate professor, Horticulture, Cornell University

Population growth and greenhouse production
A.J. Both
Robert Langhans Visiting Scholar, Associate extension specialist, Department of Environmental Sciences, Rutgers University

Examination of the variation in winter survival mechanisms of wild and cultivated grapevine (Presented in Geneva with Polycom to Ithaca.)
Jason Londo
Plant research geneticist, Grape Genetics Research Unit, USDA ARS, Geneva, NY

History of horticulture and gardening on the Kibbutzim of Israel
Ruth Enis
Faculty of architecture and town planning, Technion – Israel Institue of Technology

SOHO kicks off semester with winery tour

From Franziska Doerflinger:

The SoHo graduate student club had our second annual winery tour last Saturday. We started with about 34 people — a good mix of new and old students, faculty and staff. We visited: Anthony Road Wine Company, Fox Run Vineyards (where we had a vineyard and cellar tour), Glenora Wine Cellars, Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, and the Finger Lakes Distilling.

The tour finished up at Finger Lakes Distilling.

The tour finished up at Finger Lakes Distilling.

Behind Glenora, we had a lovely home-cooked lunch that Katie King (social chair of SoHo) prepared for us.

Tasting at Glenora.

Tasting at Glenora.

Over all a great success, and we hope to continue the tradition next year.

The view from Glenora.

The view from Glenora.

Apples are in at Cornell Orchards

Apples are in!

Apples are in!

From Kristina Engel-Ross, Cornell Orchards,

We’ve harvested the first apples of the season at Cornell Orchards!

For the month of August, our retail store will be open every Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. See website for latest info.

Fruit available this week (Aug. 16-17):

  • Sunrise apples – limited availability
  • Sansa apples
  • Zestar – very limited availability
  • Donut Peaches
  • Blushing star peaches
  • Babygold peaches
  • Flaming Fury peaches
  • Blackberries – in pints and also Rich’s famous jam bag
  • Blueberries
  • Plums – limited availability
  • Table grapes
  • Harrow Delight pears – limited availability

Vegetables from Cornell’s Freeville Research Farm:

  • Acorn squash
  • Spaghetti squash
  • Ambercup squash
  • Italian green sweet pepper
  • Corn

Also available:

Cornell Dairy yogurt and pudding

Ice Cream from Cayuga Lake Creamery:

  • Blackberry and Cream
  • Blueberry
  • Red Raspberry
  • Black Raspberry (limited edition)

Cornell Orchards Butters and Jams:

  • Cantaloupe Butter
  • Apple Butter (also sugar free available)
  • Peach Jam
  • Plum Jam
  • Blueberry-Apple Butter
  • Blueberry butter

And a selection of other local products including:

  • Cornell Maple syrup
  • Cornell Dairy yogurt and pudding
  • Cornell Orchards T-shirts and cups
  • Cornell sheep blankets

We are looking forward seeing you at our store.

Cornell Orchards
Rt. 366 (709 Dryden Rd.) across from the Vet School. View Google map.

Visit our website.

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Student-run vineyard at Cornell Orchards is certified organic

Eric Shatt, left, Cornell Orchards farm manager, and summer intern Joe Young '14 adjust bird netting to protect fruit in the organic vineyard adjacent to the Cornell campus.

Eric Shatt, left, Cornell Orchards farm manager, and summer intern Joe Young ’14 adjust bird netting to protect fruit in the organic vineyard adjacent to the Cornell campus.

Cornell Chronicle [8/14/2012]:

A block of about 500 grapevines at Cornell Orchards — a little more than half an acre — is now certified organic by the NOFA-NY Certified Organic, LLC.

“Virtually all of the management, from planning and planting to harvest and winemaking — even the paperwork — is done by students,” says Justine Vanden Heuvel, assistant professor of horticulture.

The planting grew out of the two-semester course Sustainable and Organic Grape and Wine Production (HORT/FDSC/VIEN 3120/4120). “We started the course in 2010 because viticulture and enology students told us that they wanted to focus specifically on sustainability issues,” says Vanden Heuvel. “That’s something you can’t just learn in the classroom. You have to go out in the vineyard and do it.

“To our knowledge, we are the only university in the country with a student-run organic vineyard or a course devoted entirely to organic viticulture,” she adds.

During the spring semester, students develop a management plan for the season, from improving soil health to coping with weeds, pests and diseases. All the practices must comply with U.S. Department of Agriculture organic standards. The students prune and tie vines to the trellises, and one serves as an intern to carry out the plan through the summer.

Students planted the vineyard in 2010. Many of the vines are NY95, a new variety developed at Cornell that’s particularly well-suited to organic vineyards due to its resistance to diseases such as downy and powdery mildews. Other varieties in the planting include such cold-hardy wine grapes as Frontenac gris, Marquette and Maréchal Foch.

The young vineyard will likely yield about a ton of grapes for its first harvest this fall. It should be in full production in 2014, when Vanden Heuvel estimates that it will yield 3 to 4 tons of grapes, or the equivalent of about 180 to 240 cases of wine. During the fall semester, Kathy Arnink, lecturer in food science, will take the lead in the class when students harvest the grapes and turn them into organic wine in the Teaching Winery at Cornell Orchards.

“When we’re at full production, we’ll probably use a quarter to half of the fruit in class and the rest we’ll sell to home winemakers through Cornell Orchards,” says Vanden Heuvel.

Intern Molly Smith ’12 did the paperwork for organic certification as an independent study project in 2011. The process went smoothly, notes Vanden Heuvel, in part because the vines are surrounded on three sides by the Dilmun Hill Student Organic Farm, the MacDaniels Nutgrove and an idle field. Students added a temporary sudangrass buffer on the east side of the planting to separate the vineyard from other crops that are not managed organically until a pine tree planting on that side matures. They also planted the other three sides of the vineyard with flowers designed to attract beneficial insects to help control insect pests.

“Organic viticulture is growing quickly in the U.S., but it’s really taken off in Europe,” says Vanden Heuvel. “The organic vineyard and the course are really helping our graduates to go out into the world with real experience with these practices.”

The Toward Sustainability Foundation has supported the start-up and ongoing management of the organic vineyard. For more information about the Cornell Viticulture and Enology Program, visit

Summer intern Joe Young attaches vines to trellis in the organic vineyard at Cornell Orchards.

Summer intern Joe Young attaches vines to trellis in the organic vineyard at Cornell Orchards.

Berry leaf tissue testing video

Berry specialist Marvin Pritts shows how blueberry, strawberry and bramble growers can use leaf tissue testing to be sure their plants are getting the nutrients they need. He demonstrates which leaves to sample and provides other sampling tips.

Floriculture Field Day

From Agricultural Sciences major Missy Call, who is interning with the Department of Horticulture’s Annual Flower Trial Research at Bluegrass Lane. Cross-posted from the AgSci Interns blog.

On Monday July 23, my team of interns and I had a big preparation day for the ninth annual Cornell Floriculture Field Day on Tuesday, July 24. The conference began with presentations followed by lunch and tours of Bluegrass Lane. Horticulture professor Bill Miller is pictured left leading a tour at Bluegrass Lane in his festive Hawaiian t-shirt.

Over 130 horticulture professionals attended the event, which included a container competition. The competition is a main event that benefits IBD research in honor of Kathy Pufahl, who has inspired the horticultural business. Categories included Open Division, 16 inch pots, 12 inch hanging baskets, and Home Gardener Division. There were many exciting entries that I could see took time and care to create.

Attendees were also asked to put 3 flags next to their favorite perennial flowers as well as 3 flags next to their favorite annual flowers. When we tallied up the votes, it came as a surprise that a variety of Caladiums were voted most favorite annual flower, since up until Field Day, they were not growing too well. We believe this is because they are a shade plant that was grown in full sun (which also may have been why they were chosen to win!).

Overall, the day was successful with learning, voting, and eating. At the end, the winners of the container competition were announced while participants enjoyed local ice cream. The hours of hard work spent setting up (as well as planting and maintaining our flowers) paid off.

Photo Credit: Chris Kitchen

Congratulations Caryn Davies

U.S. women's eight team celebrates gold medal and London Olympics.  AP photo.

U.S. women’s eight team celebrates gold medal and London Olympics. AP photo.

Caryn Davies, daughter of professor Peter Davies (Plant Biology, Horticulture), took home her second gold in as many Olympics in women’s crew on Thursday as the No. 2 seat in the U.S. women’s eight boat, when the Americans bested second-place Canada by more than a second. Davies also won silver at the Athens Olympics in 2004. See Ithaca Journal article for details: Ithacan Davies, Ithaca College grad Musnicki strike gold.

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