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Join Pi Alpha Xi for Pennsylvania garden trip

East Conservatory at Longwood Gardens in spring. (Longwood Gardens photo.)

East Conservatory at Longwood Gardens in spring. (Longwood Gardens photo.)

From Mark Bridgen, Pi Alpha Xi faculty advisor:

Pi Alpha Xi, the national Honor Society for Horticulture at Cornell University, is organizing a weekend trip to Longwood Gardens, Winterthur Garden Museum, and Chanticleer Gardens in southeast Pennsylvania for the weekend of March 21-23.

This guided excursion is an educational and entertaining way to visit these premier gardens with others who enjoy horticulture. This very affordable package trip includes hotel accommodations for two nights, bus transportation to/from Ithaca, breakfasts, guided tours, and admission to the gardens.

The trip will include a behind-the-scenes tour of the production greenhouses and facilities at Longwood, the famous ‘March Bank’ at Winterhur, and a pre-season peek of Chanticleer led by Erin McKeon, who graduated from Cornell’s Public Garden Leadership program last year.

Space is limited, and you need to register by March 6 to reserve a seat on this trip.

More information and registration directions.

Questions? Contact Mark Bridgen: or at 631-727-3595

Tim Martinson ‘Defending NY Wines’ on WNYC

Tim Martinson

Tim Martinson

If you missed senior extension associate Tim Martinson talking Long Island wines, winter bud damage and House of Cards on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, you can listen here: Defending New York’s Wine

Dreer seminar video: Urban ag in Argentina and Cuba

If you missed last week’s Dreer Award seminar by Ashley Marchesi on Urban Agriculture in Argentina and Cuba, it’s available online.

The Frederick Dreer Award allows one or more students to spend four months to up to a year abroad pursuing his or her interests related to horticulture. Deadline for 2014 award is March 3. More Dreer Award information, application.

Soup & Hope Feb. 27: ‘Hope in a Climate of Denial’

dave and lauren soup and hopeDave Wolfe, professor in the Department of Horticulture has been warning the world about climate change and it’s impacts on agriculture and ecosystems for almost three decades. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future communications director Lauren Chambliss explores ways to talk to people about something they don’t want to hear.

How do they maintain hope for the future, when the science is so alarming?

Find out at this week’s Soup and Hope, Thursday, February 27, 2014 at noon in Sage Chapel.

About Soup & Hope:

The 7th Annual winter series features stories to nourish a spirit of hope. Fill your bowl with soup. Add some bread. We’ll serve up six delicious speakers to share personal stories of hope. Open to all members of the Cornell community.

Co-sponsored by: Cornell Dining, Cornell United Religious Work (CURW) and Gannett Health Services, With additional support from: Engaged Learning + Research, Department of Horticulture, Employee Assembly, Residential Programs, and the Wellness Program.

AFRI grants fuel apple- and vegetable-breeding research

ApplesTart2-19aCornell Chronicle article by Amanda Garris details three projects funded by the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI):

  • A $410,000 AFRI grant will allow Kenong Xu, an assistant professor of horticulture at Cornell’s New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, to analyze the function of the likely gatekeeper of apple acidity, a gene called Ma1. The research was prompted by Cornell apple breeder Susan Brown, Cornell horticulture professor Lailiang Chang and Miguel Piñeros, a research plant physiologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service are both co-leads on the project.
  • A $500,000 AFRI grant will allow breeder Martha Mutschler-Chu to deepen her understanding of different types of acylsugars – sugars produced and exuded from hairs (trichomes) that cover wild Peruvian tomato plants – and how they might impact insects in different ways. That, in turn, could lead to developing additional lines of tomatoes with targeted resistance to specific pests, which would substantially reduce pesticide usage and tomato production costs.
  • A $450,000 AFRI grant will allow Michael Mazourek , the Calvin Noyes Keeney Assistant Professor of Plant Breeding, to create varieties of squash with high levels of carotenoids and carbohydrates. Using transcriptome sequencing, metabolite analysis and a unique barcoding and phenotyping system developed in his lab, Mazourek will determine the genetic basis of variation in fruit quality of three types of squash and a pumpkin.

Read the whole article.


Watkins elected ISHS commission chair


Chris Watkins

Chris Watkins

Chris Watkins, professor in the Department of Horticulture and director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, has been elected chairperson of the International Society for Horticultural Sciences‘ Commission on Quality and Postharvest Horticulture. ISHS commission chairpersons are specifically involved with the scientific activities and interests of the Society, including guiding working groups and organizing symposia.

Congratulations Chris!

Videos offer the A to Z of mushroom cultivation

From Steve Gabriel (), crossposted from the Northeast Forest Mushroom Growers Network blog.

A new series of short how-to videos produced by the eXtension Forest Farming community is now available for viewing online.

The videos feature Ken Mudge, associate professor, Department of Horticulture, who has been engaging in shiitake mushroom research and education for almost ten years. Ken covers a wide range of topics, including the four stages of cultivation, mushroom life cycle, inoculation, maintenance, harvest, and optimizing production with strain selection. These video offer an excellent visual companion to the recently released publication Best Management Practices for Log-Based Shiitake Cultivation in the Northeastern United States.

View the Forest Farming Shiitake Mushrooms playlist.

The eXtension Forest Farming website is an excellent resource for growers and features a number of videos on production of other forest farming crops including ginseng, goldenseal, and ramps (wild leeks).

Seminar video: Skyscraper Farms and Abandoned Warehouses

If you missed Lou Albright’s February 10 seminar, Skyscraper Farms and Abandoned Warehouses: Are These Horticulture’s New Clothes, it’s available online.

Abstract: Despite great enthusiasm in the media and elsewhere, a simple engineering evaluation of closed system urban farming based on mostly electrically-generated photosynthetic light shows reality to be food production with high cost, large energy use, a giant carbon footprint, and incompatability with renewable energy. These system aspects will be detailed, ending with a discussion of peri-urban greenhouses as a potential local food production alternative. Lou Albright is professor emeritus, Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering, Cornell University who helped pioneer Controlled Environment Agriculture.

Summer opportunities at Dilmun Hill, Freeville

Dilmun harvestFor Cornell undergrads looking to spend their summer immersed in sustainable agriculture on campus, the Dilmun Hill student-run organic farm has a few opportunities to choose from. For those interested in summer employment with a leadership component, Dilmun Hill is now accepting applications for the market garden manager position for the 2014 season. The market garden manager is part of the team that will run the farm from spring to fall. Also sought are undergraduate researchers with interesting and original ideas for agricultural research projects to be conducted at Dilmun Hill.

Applications for both these opportunities are being accepted now through February 19.

Additionally, if you are a Cornell student looking for applied research experience in agriculture, passionate about small farms and interested in strategies to improve soil quality and reduce on-farm energy use, consider applying for a summer student research position.  Gain hands-on production and research experience. Help manage vegetable crops from planting to harvest. Learn plant and soil sampling methods and how to organize data and summarize results. Position is based at Cornell University, Ithaca campus and the HCT Vegetable Research Farm, Freeville. Daily transportation to the research farm will be provided. Application deadline is February 28.  More information.

Dreer Award seminar: Urban Ag in Argentina and Cuba

Dreer award posterFrom Nina Bassuk, Chair, Dreer Award Committee:

Ashley Marchesi, Dreer award winner for 2012, will be returning to campus on Wednesday, February 19th to present her Dreer award experiences investigating urban agriculture in Argentina and Cuba. Her seminar will be held in Room 22 Plant Science at 12:20 PM.

All are welcome.

The Frederick Dreer Award allows one or more students to spend four months to up to a year abroad pursuing his or her interests related to horticulture. Deadline for 2014 award is March 3.

More Dreer Award information, application.

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