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Alternative spring break — with a horticulture twist

psc students

Looking for a spring break that’s both fun and rewarding?

Cornell’s Public Service Center Student Services Program organizes alternative spring breaks to promote service-learning through direct public service with various communities to heighten social awareness, enhance personal growth, and advocate lifelong social action.

This spring, of the Center’s offerings involves working with the Goddard Riverside Community Center’s Green Keepers

Green Keepers is Goddard’s social purpose business that provides horticulture and sanitation services throughout the NYC area. It was established in 1995 with experienced team members that meet the specific needs of a particular project or complement current, ongoing services. Each team is led by a certified horticulturist who ensures that each project is completed to the highest standard.

The beautification services include landscaping, planting, mulching, soil preparation, weeding, pruning and watering of public, commercial and residential properties. The sanitation services include general street-cleaning and maintenance, snow removal, and preparation of trash and recycling for pick up.

During this trip, students will work with a certified horticulturalist on a project to be determined during the spring semester depending on seasonal horticultural needs.

Visit the PSC website for more information.

Horticulture featured at ‘Furrows to Boroughs’

From Thomas Björkman:

Hundreds of Cornell alumni gathered at the Astor Center in Greenwich Village for Furrows to Boroughs: A Taste of New York State in New York City, a regional sesquicentennial celebration October 22 hosted by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.  The event highlighted the link between tri-state agriculture and Cornell. The culinary work and products of local farmers, agricultural businesses and chefs were on display and available to taste.

Horticultural products featured prominently. Many wines of course, a tremendous pastry designed around Susan Brown’s new SnapDragon apple, and fall berries and vegetables raised with techniques and varieties developed at Cornell. The alumni were not only excited by the great food, but also proud to be part of the institution that helps make it all possible.

I collaborated with chef and native Ithacan Tyler Kord, who has been making a big splash in the New York City restaurant scene by highlighting broccoli in new contexts. He operates the No. 7 restaurant in Fort Greene Brooklyn and has two high-profile sub shops at the Plaza Hotel by Central Park and the Ace Hotel in the financial district where he has popularized both the broccoli sub sandwich and the broccoli taco. This year Short Stack published his cookbook  Broccoli.

At Furrows to Boroughs, Tyler served tacos using broccoli provided by Windflower Farm, operated by former Cornell Cooperative Extension educator Ted Blomgren, who continues to be an avid cooperator on Cornell Horticulture research and extension projects as well as a pioneer for providing fresh produce to the food deserts in the outer boroughs through an active CSA.

As part of the Eastern Broccoli Project, I’m leading a team to develop varieties as well as the production and marketing infrastructure to supply New York City with Northeast broccoli for three months of the year, and have other Eastern regions supply the same buyers for the balance of the year.

Our goal is not to supply all of the Big Apple’s broccoli, but enough to provide regional growers with a profitable alternative enterprise and consumers with a fresher, more flavorful and nutritious product.

The project is funded by the USDA’s  Specialty Crop Research Initiative, and is a collaboration with six other universities, the Agricultural Research Service, seed companies,  distributors and growers.

Tyler Kord prepares broccoli tacos at Furrows to Boroughs.

Tyler Kord prepares broccoli tacos at Furrows to Boroughs.

New course: Horticultural Crop Improvement

Phil Griffiths and melons

  • HORT 4025 (Horticultural Crop Improvement)
  • Spring semester
  • 2 credits
  • Meets Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:25 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
  • Instructor: Phillip D. Griffiths

The class provides insight and exposure to the unique challenges associated with the improvement of horticultural crops and is intended for undergraduate students majoring in Plant Sciences, graduate students in the Graduate Field of Horticulture and those in other disciplines with an interest in horticulture.

Areas covered focus on real-world issues addressing changes in production environments, aesthetics, markets, postharvest quality and consumer demands and how they impact marketable yield.

Horticultural crops have diverse challenges from the development of seedless crops and the selection and propagation of clonal genotypes to high quality expectations, year-round consistency, consumer acceptance and targeting of new controlled environment production.

There are no prerequisites, but prior classes in introductory horticulture and genetics are recommended.

Brown named associate dean

Susan Brown

Susan Brown

From Dean Kathryn Boor:

As many of you already know, Susan Brown, currently Associate Director of the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva and Herman M. Cohn Professor of Agriculture and Life Sciences, will become an associate dean in CALS and the Goichman Family Director of NYSAES on January 2, 2015.

Dr. Brown has served as associate director of NYAES since July 1, 2013. Among her responsibilities in that role has been stewarding the NYSAES strategic planning process, in concert with a faculty committee and community input. As a faculty member in the section of Horticulture in the School of Integrative Plant Science, she runs one of the largest tree fruit breeding programs in the world. She has released four apple varieties—Fortune, Autumncrisp, SnapDragon™, and RubyFrost™—and is the co-inventor of ten sweet cherries and one tart cherry. Her research combines breeding and genetics to improve apple quality, disease resistance, nutritional qualities and tree architecture.

Her professional achievements have been recognized with a 2013 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Faculty Service, a 2012 CALS Alumni Association Outstanding Faculty Award, and her selection for the 2013 Leading Cornell program. She was named a Woman of Distinction by the New York State Senate in 2014.

Susan received a B.S. from the University of Connecticut, an M.S. from Rutgers University, and a Ph.D. from the University of California-Davis. She joined the Cornell faculty in 1985.

Boor also announced two other transitions: On July 1, 2015, Beth Ahner will become a Senior Associate Dean in CALS, and on September 1, 2015, Jan Nyrop will become Director of the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station.

HORT 1101: Indigo dye

From Frank Rossi, who introduces students to plants grown for foods, beverages, fiber, aesthetics and recreation in HORT 1101 (Horticultural Science and Systems). View more HORT 1101 posts.

The lab for the week has become an annual tradition: Another hands-on/take home on producing indigo dye from Indigofera tinctoria. We’ve been exploring the culture, history and chemistry of indigo dye, culminating in this week’s lab where students used indigo dye to to create a class banner and turn a piece of clothing into a work of art to take home.

This artistic endeavor was a perfect ending to a semester exploring the art and science of horticulture.

HORT 1101 students with banner and clothing dyed in Friday's lab.Preview


Hortus Forum poinsettia sale Dec. 8

Kenneth Post Laboratory Greenhouses, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  (View map.)

32 varieties. 2 pot sizes. There are still plenty of poinsettias to choose from, though some varieties and pot sizes are already sold out.

Visit the club’s online ordering page to view this year’s options.

Questions? Contact club president David Harris:


Follow Hortus Forum on Facebook.

Art of Horticulture final projects

If you’d like to catch a glimpse of students’ final projects in Marcia Eames-Sheavly’s Art of Horticulture class, you can sneak a peek online.

You can also see previous classes’ work (as well as other class projects and videos) by visiting the Art of Horticulture’s gallery page.

Art of Hort project

Open Your Eyes. Click image for larger view.

Celebrate World Soil Day at Mann Library today

Graduate students Silene DeCiucies and Rachel Hestrin and Soil Health Lab Coordinator Bob Schindelbeck will help you celebrate World Soil Day in the Mann Library lobby.

Graduate students Silene DeCiucies and Rachel Hestrin and Soil Health Lab Coordinator Bob Schindelbeck will help you celebrate World Soil Day in the Mann Library lobby.

Today is  World Soil Day, so desginated by the International Union of Soil Sciences, the FAO, and the UN General Assembly.

Come to the Mann Library lobby to celebrate the importance of soil as a critical component of the natural system and as a vital contributor to human well-being.

The Crop and Soil Sciences Section of the School of Integrative Plant Science invites faculty, staff and students to drop by from 9 a.m. to – 5 p.m. to view posters, hands-on displays and video clips.

And don’t miss Soil Health Lab Coordinator Bob Schindelbeck’s gummy-worm brownies, while supplies last.

Registration now open for online permaculture design course

Permaculture systems meet humans needs while restoring ecosystem health.

Permaculture systems meet humans needs while restoring ecosystem health.

From Lori Brewer:

Registration is now open for the online course Permaculture Design: Ecosystem Mimicry, offered Jan. 5 through Feb. 19., 2015 through the Horticulture section’s distance learning program. Space is limited to 25 participants. Registration closes when limit is reached. Registration fee is $600 and to be paid via credit card at registration. See registration link at course info website.

The study of permaculture helps gardeners, landowners, and farmers combine knowledge of ecology combined with its application to supporting healthy soil, water conservation, and biodiversity. Permaculture systems meet human needs while restoring ecosystem health. Common practices include no-till gardening, rainwater catchment, forest gardening, and agroforestry.

View the full syllabus for the course and find registration information at the course info website.

Horticulture’s distance learning program offers two other online permaculture design courses:

Completion of a single class gives students a certificate of completion from the Horticulture and continuing education units*. Completion of all three courses gives students the portfolio necessary to apply for an internationally recognized certification in Permaculture Design though the Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute. Registration opens about six weeks before  courses begins.

Outstanding Service to CALS honor goes to generous, engaged Pritts

Dean Boor and Marvin PrittsReposted from CALS notes:

On Nov. 10, Dean Kathryn Boor, Cornell Cooperative Extension Director and Associate Dean Chris Watkins, and more than 100 guests celebrated the College of Agriculture and Life Science’s best and brightest at the 11th annual Research, Extension and Staff Awards.

Boor praised all the recipients, and thanked them for epitomizing Cornell’s land grant-mission of delivering knowledge with a public purpose.

Among those honored was Marvin Pritts for Outstanding Service to the CALS Community. The award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated sustained and exemplary leadership that advances the land grant mission and includes those who have demonstrated leadership in specific roles, such as department chairs or task force and program leaders.

Pritts, a professor in the School of Integrative Plant Science and chair of the Horticulture Section, is an accomplished scientist, dedicated teacher and talented mentor, all of which reinforce his value to the School and the University.

Being a department chair is one of the most difficult jobs at the university. A chair has a diverse constituency, whose concerns must be addressed, including faculty, staff, students, stakeholders and deans. Successful leadership of such a varied group depends heavily on getting department members engaged and willing to contribute time, energy, and ideas – yet the only tools available to spur engagement are the power of an idea and respect for the chair.

Boor noted that as a manager, Pritts welcomes multiple perspectives, but makes decisions confidently. He listens more than he speaks, and he works hard to give everyone a voice. He has successfully lead several mergers in Horticulture, including the recent joining of the Ithaca and Geneva units, as well as the combining of several departments into the School of Integrative Plant Sciences. He is also a generous and involved adviser, even going so far as to invite a group of students to his home for Thanksgiving dinner one year when he heard they would not be traveling to see their families for the holidays.

Beyond his work at Cornell, Pritts also is very active in the community outside the university. He has served on the board of directors of the Cayuga Nature Center for more than a decade and also takes groups of high school students to Guatemala every other summer to work at an orphanage.

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