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Signs of Sustainability

Signs of SustainabilityEach December, Sustainable Tompkins celebrates Signs of Sustainability in and around Tompkins County. Among the 2013 signs of horticultural interest:

  • The Growth Chamber Phase One Energy Conservation Project saves Cornell University $19,000 and 580 tons of carbon annually. The chambers now provide energy efficient, properly controlled growing environments for plant research.
  • The produce industry and the federal government have started to demand GAP certification – Good Agricultural Practices. In response, Cornell National GAPs Program and the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Yates County hosted a multi-day workshop to teach farmers about GAPs, how it works, and how to create a food safety plan for farms.
  • Thomas Bjorkman led a Cornell team that developed a new broccoli plant ideal for the East Coast’s hot, steamy summers. The Eastern Broccoli Project, based at Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, promises to bring sweet, crisp, local broccoli to Eastern farmers and consumers. More locally grown broccoli will also save diesel fuel, generating fewer greenhouse gases.
  • The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County organized Mushroom Field Day, featuring a morning workshop and afternoon walk. The workshop, led by Dr. Ken Mudge from Cornell University focused on shiitake mushroom cultivation, and the Wild Mushroom and Forest Health Walk was led by Dr. George Hudler from Cornell. The Day was sponsored by the NY Forest Owners Association – Southern Finger Lakes Chapter.
  • Cornell University offered its first Permaculture Design Certification course in the Department of Horticulture.
  • The Ithaca Children’s Garden created the Ithaca Bulb Labyrinth Memorial Garden, honoring babies who have passed away to promote healing for families
  • Cornell University students created the Hydroponic Bottle Wall at Stella’s restaurant in Collegetown. They mounted 24 wine bottles on a double-sided wall and fitted it with an exposed hydroponic growing system. According to one of the students, the wall is a “microcosm of the growing trend of urban agriculture.”
  • Cornell Cooperative Extension presented a two-day conference, “Organic and Sustainable Gardening in a Warmer Planet,” in which leading Cornell researchers offered informative sessions on practical tools for successful gardening in the face of extreme weather events and a warmer climate.
  • Cornell Garden-Based Learning, Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ithaca Children’s Garden, and Home Green Home co-hosted a talk by Jonathan Bates, contributing author of “Paradise Lot: Two plant geeks, one-tenth of an acre, and the making of an edible garden oasis.”
  • Cornell Plantations started the Plantations Environmental Education Program forSustainability (PEEPS) geared toward students ages 14-18 who want to work in a “sustainable backyard” and take part in community outreach activities.
  • The Cornell University Horticulture Departmentis partcipating in the Food Dignityproject, which is studying the local foods movement and how communities are contributing to food security. Part of the project has measured how much produce was grown in Ithaca and Dryden communitygarden plots.
  • The Ithaca Children’s Gardenoffered a hands-on workshop on how to create stickworks led by renowned sculptor Patrick Dougherty. Dougherty’s visit to Ithaca was made possible by the Cornell Messenger Lecture Series.
  • Cornell University professor, Tom Whitlow, hosted a talk on the challenge of maintaining biodiversity in areas heavily impacted by human activity.

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