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Signs of Sustainability

sustainable tompkins logoHorticulture-related efforts cited by Sustainable Tompkins among its Signs of Sustainability for 2012 include:

  • The Cornell student vineyard at Cornell Orchards has been certified organic by the Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) of New York.
  • This year, Cornell Small Farms Program‘s biennial New York Small Farms Summit grew considerably since their last summit. Approximately 150 farmers with small operations and farm educators met physically and virtually at the event to prioritize the organization’s efforts on behalf of regional small farms.
  • Through a generous grant from the Northeast Sun Grant Institute, the Cornell University shrub willow bioenergy program grew tremendously. The grant led to breeding willow (a renewable energy option) and installation of a boiler which will burn willow biomass to heat two buildings in Cornell’s agricultural station in Geneva.

Study shows promise for East Coast broccoli industry

Thomas Björkman works with broccoli varieties adapted to the East Coast's hot and humid summers. Robyn Wishna photo.

Thomas Björkman works with broccoli varieties adapted to the East Coast’s hot and humid summers. Robyn Wishna photo.

Study shows promise for East Coast broccoli industry [Cornell Chronicle 1/8/2013] – Thomas Björkman provides a recipe to grow a year-round, $100-million-a-year East Coast broccoli industry.

“Most standard varieties developed for western climates have trouble lasting through hot and humid eastern summers,” he says. “But new genetics have allowed us to develop varieties that don’t make misshapen heads when the weather turns consistently warm.”

Björkman is leading a collaboration with public breeders, seed companies, ag economists, grower networks, and others fueled by a $3.2 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and supplemented by $1.7 million in matching funds from participating companies.

Read the whole article.

Michael Mazourek in Ezra

Michael Mazourek

Michael Mazourek

Michael Mazourek is featured in Better veggies for New York in the Winter 2013 issue of Ezra, Cornell’s Quarterly Magazine:

As the Calvin Noyes Keeney Assistant Professor of Plant Breeding, Mazourek spends some days planting crops for trials at the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station’s research farms, others collaborating with chef Dan Barber on unusual breeds like the honeynut squash, and still others designing organic varieties to benefit New York state growers. …

A native of Newfield, N.Y., Mazourek was inspired to better connect farmers with research when he came to Cornell as an assistant professor in 2009. “There were all of these cultivars developed at Cornell that had solutions to problems I had in my home garden for decades,” he said. “I grew up one town over so I couldn’t imagine why I had suffered for so long with powdery mildew when these folks had the cure.”

Read the whole article.

In the news

Cornell researchers convened a daylong meeting of 50 researchers and growers from across the Northeast and Canada this past November to consider strategies for managing  the invasive spotted wing drosophila -- SWD for short.  Photo: Bev Gerdman, Washington State University.

Cornell researchers convened a daylong meeting of 50 researchers and growers from across the Northeast and Canada this past November to consider strategies for managing the invasive spotted wing drosophila — SWD for short. Photo: Bev Gerdman, Washington State University.

Scientists tackle tiny fly that’s big trouble for berry growers [Cornell Chronicle 1/4/2013] – Spotted wing drosophila — SWD for short — is poorly understood and highly destructive. “That’s a terrible combination,” says Julie Carroll, the fruit integrated pest management (IPM) coordinator for the New York State IPM Program, based at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES) in Geneva, N.Y. Cornell researchers convened a daylong meeting of 50 researchers and growers from across the Northeast and Canada this past November to consider strategies for managing the pest.

Worms Produce Another Kind of Gold for Growers [New York Times 12/31/2012] – Eric Nelson, Dept. of Plant Pathology and Plant-Microbe Biology, is studying how compost suppresses disease. “The key is understanding why these microbes do what they do,” he says.  Still, the industry suffers from image problems. “It’s hard to bring it out of the ‘It’s cute to have a worm box in my backyard’ approach and put it on par with other strategies for waste management,” says Allison Jack, who earned her doctorate by studying vermicompost at Cornell and is now teaching at Prescott College in Arizona.

Checking in with Nina Bassuk & Cornell’s Urban Horticulture Institute [City Trees Nov./Dec. 2012] – In an extensive interview, Bassuk details progress on plant selection, propagation, porous paving, ground-penetrating radar, bare toot transplanting, and more.

Titan arum update

It’s been nine months since Cornell University’s Amorphophallus titanum bloomed, and we’re catching up with “Wee Stinky” — part of the Department of Plant Biology’s Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium collection. Find out about how successful pollination was, where Wee Stinky’s seeds are going, and what we’ve learned about its smells. Find out more at the Cornell Titan Arum blog.

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