Maraleen’s Synopsis of Cornell Conference on Gardening in a Warmer World

Conference at Cornell University:  Organic & Sustainable Gardening in a Warmer World, October 4 & 5th, 2013

Synopsis by attendee Maraleen Manos-Jones

Opening Keynote by Dr. Paul Wapner 10/04/13:

“Better Cruel Truth than Sweet Lies”

- incontrovertible and factual evidence of global warming due to human activity compiled by atmospheric physicists

- last frost now one week earlier in the Spring and one week later in the Fall

-  more extremes of precipitation

-  snowfall: not consistent change, but how long snow stays around. There are now 30 days less of snow cover, which means more insects, disease & pests moving north

-  humans want to control nature, now we are controlling on steroids with technology

-  there is no getting back to clean atmosphere. There used to be 270 parts per million carbon, now there is 400 parts carbon per million in the atmosphere

-  there are fuels from Heaven and fuels from Hell, sun/wind vs. oil/gas

-  third world hit hardest by climate change

-  monsoons have changed significantly in India & Nepal.  They are the frontier/brunt of feeling the effects of global warming. i.e. glaciers in Chile melting, the source of water for millions

Morning Keynote by Dr. Art DeGaetano 10/05/13:  Why Adapt to Climate Change?

-  by 2080, our planet will be 7 to 10 degrees warmer, even if we mitigate, we are on a roll

-  by the end of this century, there will be one month more frost free, 5 to 6% increase in rain, and 25% more rain from big storm events

-  heat stress:  crops/livestock, increased insects & disease, more droughts in summer

-  can be an opportunity for different crops

- cool season crops will suffer:  apples, cabbage, broccoli

-  we must ADAPT

-  integrated pest management, developing new strategies for pests, disease & weeds

-  improve soil resilience

-  more compost and mulch

-  drip & rain barrel irrigation

Birds & Climate Change by Dr Kim Bostwick, 10/05/13

- there is .8 C temp rise already – we want to avoid 2 degrees C, it’s too scary and we are probably going to 4 degrees C IF WE DON’T CHANGE OUR ACTIONS –  4 DEGREES + EQUALS HELL ON EARTH

-  quote from Marshall Gentz, “We need massive, coordinated, intelligent, ambitious action…we’re stuck between the impossible and the unthinkable.”



-  savoring and saving nature

-  all ask, Where is my place of power – and talk about climate change with friends, neighbors

“Our lives begin to end when we are silent”

Attitudes toward climate change:  18% alarmed, 33% concerned, 19% cautious, 12% disengaged, 7% dismiss/deny, from a study by Andrew Leiserwitz,, 2009

focus on empowering, writing & mobilizing, the cautious, concerned and alarmed are 70% of the population

-  responding to warmer temperatures, birds are on the move north (10,000 species)

-  extreme weather events have big impact

-  climate change is a reality: check Al Gore’s website:

-  what is important in your life – who do you love – what kind of world d you want them to inherit?

-  engage it, understand issues, and own it

-  discover and embrace your personal place of power

- change your life & the world

- invest in climate – put your money where your beliefs are

-  timing is everything for some species – food sources, egg laying, migration, habitat specialists, latitude, coastal, water sources – 

Edible Landscapes and Permaculture by Steve Gabriel, 10/05/13

-  permaculture integrates aerating and fertilizing soil, pest control, and weed control,  i.e. ducks eat slugs,  turn grass into better soil, they fertilize soil and give us meat

- slugs love mushrooms – rotate where ducks eat

-  cover crops :  buckwheat, radish, clover

-  thin trees – you can use for mushroom logs – takes  20 year old tree logs for mushrooms – need 30 logs for 1 lb. mushrooms/week  – check out:

-  CO2 cycle is a dynamic system – tree/soil/animals BUILD HEALTHY SOIL AND REDUCE/OFFSET OF OUR OWN EMISSIONS (FROM FLYING FREQUENTLY, DRIVING, ETC.) or i.e. grow your own tea since black tea travels 1,000’s of miles

-  Bio-Shelters – to grow greens in the winter and year round– just south side is plastic, other sides just well insulated   check out Three Sisters Farm BioShelter :  Rodale also a good source of information

-  good cover crop:  buckwheat & daikon radish –  broadcast into woodchips, micro organisms hang out with root systems – let buckwheat  and radish flower – cut before it goes to seed or let the chickens go in and eat

-  build garden as nature would –  no till

-  use compost, layer over newspapers, and then apply mulch (cardboard on the aisles)

-  for new veg. beds, use one foot straw mulch

-  no newspaper on salad greens/carrots

-  read online positive news

 There are layers of edible forest garden:                                                        –  tall canopy/tall trees,, sub canopy/shrubs, shorter shrubs, and herbaceous

-  Permaculture:  We plant ecosystems – climate change polyculture appropriate for backyard or farm scale

-  can species thrive as it warms?  Choosing species that adapt to chaos


-  Plant mostly native species

-  great canopy tree:  hybrid chestnut , Castonea dentate xspp – it is stable food and nutritious

-  hazelnut hedges – also has 40’ roots !

-  urine watered down 10 to 1 makes great fertilizer

-  from Badgersett Research Center:  “Only if ¼ of the world’s food crop converted to woody crop, would there be a HALT and REVERSE of increased CO2”

-  Paw Paw tree, Asimina tricora, native to N.Y. & South, is related to papaya and is great source of delicious, highly nutritious fruits (more potassium than banana & some fat), the pulp of which can be frozen for winter use –  fruit does not have a long shelf life.  It can grow in 50% shade to full sun, can grow near Black walnut, deer resistant, but you have to hand pollinate in May with a paintbrush, and you must have at least two trees.  There is a Paw Paw festival n Ohio:

-  great shrub: Serviceberry, Amelanchier, also known as Juneberry or Shadbush, have vitamin filled berries for all –

-  traveling with agricultural products in our globally connected world introduces pests that travel with plants (shutdown devastating to detecting pests –  and plant inspectors get only 50% volume)

-  it is expensive to control unwanted outbreak which can lead to abandonment of crop & closing of markets if pest not eradicated

-  key place of entry:  Florida

- Valentine Day Flower Import:  2,000 pests introduced on ONE DAY

-  we should reproduce plants by cuttings rather than seed produced elsewhere

-  it’s how we got Asian long horned beetle in Brooklyn & L.I. since 1996, & Emerald ash borer (native wasp tells where borer is)

-  new fruit fly w/spotted wings attacks unripe fruit , i.e. raspberries, blueberries, grapes

-  marmolated stink bug injures apples

-  crane fly & marsh crane fly

-  columbine saw fly

-  lily leaf beetle

-in corners of Florida there is Dogwood disease, anthacnose and Boxwood blight since 2011 in N.C., Ct. & Va., and since 1994 in England – blight browns them out after rain & humidity (looks like bad hair day), leaves fall off , BUT HOW MANY SPECIES DOES BOXWOOD SUPPORT?

-  fungus on root of impatiens started in 2012, blown in by spores. Showed up in England in 2003 – New guinea impatiens seems to be resistant

-  jewelweed is close relative – there have been reports of fungus on jewelweed – 

-  there are too many long Asian worms which are loosening the soil way too much –  read Second Nature by Michael Pollan

- good resources: change and of course Cornell research

Capstone Keynote by Dr. Shorna Allred, 10/05/2013

-  climate change:  people don’t think it will affect them personally

-  volunteers as change agents:  64 million Americans volunteer 7.9 billion/hours/year or 1 in 4 adults volunteer

-  700 CCE educators and 60,000 volunteers


The Drum Major Instinct:  “Everybody can be great because everyone can serve.” Martin Luther King, Jr. , 1968

Georgia Master Gardener Program:

Learn New Things, Serve Community, Challenge, Influence, Leadership Role

We learn best when we learn from peer relationships – each one teach one.   Understand goals, issues, pressures, unbiased, trusted, use credible sources of information, you speak the same language instead of acronyms – Master gardeners are accessible and local

There are Master Forest Owners, Naturalists & Composters

“Leave a committed life behind.”  Bill McGibbon





One Response to Maraleen’s Synopsis of Cornell Conference on Gardening in a Warmer World

  1. Moira Joyce says:

    Great info here. In the 70’s many of us were talking about the effect of unconscious growth, conserving water, recycling and protecting our Mother Earth. Now we need to really listen to information like this. Maraleen did a great job. Let’s wake up and protect our resources for our children’s children.

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