In the spring of 2015, media outlets were buzzing with the news: there was a new Minnesota apple in need of a name. Thanks to Honeycrisp fame, new apple releases from the Department of Horticultural Science tend to get a lot of people excited. The new apple, MN-55, is still a ways from having a name and showing up on market shelves. However, other breeding programs within the department have been hard at work.
This summer the front of Alderman Hall was re-landscaped thanks to the Living Laboratory initiative and generous donations from our alumni and friends. The new garden combines plantings that are both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally beneficial to help create a more sustainable campus environment. Read more about this and other exciting changes in the department in the News from the Department Head.
In early August, alumnus Arnold ‘Arne’ Blomquist passed away. Arne earned his master’s degree (1961) and Ph.D. (1963) from the University of Minnesota in horticulture, genetics, and biology. Known for his strength of character and physical constitution, Arne used his extraordinary intelligence and bold leadership to spearhead many projects. He had led military, professional, religious, and education programs that benefit humanity and are a credit to the University.
On West Bank, between the Carlson School of Management and the Rarig Center, a small garden lays brimming with tomato trellises, native perennials, kale, and scattered pollinator beds. It’s there thanks to a small cohort of students looking for a place where faculty, staff, students, and community members can gather on the more metropolitan side of campus to have meaningful interactions with a core theme of healthy food and the environment. With the help of the Living Laboratory initiative, an IonE grant, and Professor Tom Michaels advising, these students created the West Bank Community Garden (WBCG).
Sitting on either side of the main entrance to Alderman Hall this summer were two small wooden boxes brimming with salad greens. These little boxes are the current iteration of a project initially developed by Professor Tom Michaels in 2011, and worked on by many undergraduates since then, called hydroponic salad tables. The tables offer a way for people with little to no land to grow their own salad greens.
For years, the number of active golf players has been declining, and golf courses around the country have been shutting down. People aren’t as interested in golf as they once were. Golf courses are “Golf is in the midst of significant change,” says Professor Brian Horgan. “We have an industry that is in need of change, a golf course that is in need of renovation, and a university that’s ready to make a difference. This all gives us a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a major impact on golf.” The Science of (the) Green® initiative aims to renovate the Les Bolstad Golf Course, just across the street from the St. Paul Campus, to make it a working model for the industry that will pave the way for a new kind of interaction with golf personally, communally, and generationally.
As Moriah Maternoski (B.S. Food Systems ‘16) started to talk about all the work that she had to do as a Markhart Scholar last spring — scheduling, emailing, grant writing, evaluating and more — her eyes lit up. It’s a feeling shared with the other eight students involved in the inaugural year of the Markhart Scholars Program, a competitive scholarship opportunity that enables students to build a network around community engagement, food security, and sustainable agriculture.
Clark completed an M.S. and Ph.D. in plant breeding and genetics at the U of M under Professor Jim Luby. He has studied native grass species for use as low input turf, apple fruit quality traits, apple scab resistance and grape diseases.
Most undergraduate students expect their research to have a small impact on their field. However, students enrolled in a new experiential learning class, HORT 4601 — Aquaponics: Integrated fish and plant food systems — are already making strides in aquaponics. In this annual spring semester course, led by several instructors including Horticultural Science Professor Neil Anderson, students designed research projects that address real problems posed by industry professionals.
For alumna Stacey Noble (B.S. Horticulture ’11) there is no typical workday. Her home base is in Chicago, but about half of her time is spent traveling. Where to? At the beginning of May she flew out for a conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, as a Burpee home gardens program representative for Ball Horticultural Company, her work spans the western U.S., Midwest and Great Lakes — which adds up to roughly half the country.