Cornell Greenhouses Undergo Restructuring

September 7, 2007 - 08:39

The greenhouse operations at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. — the largest non-commercial greenhouse operation in the state — has recently turned over a new leaf. In addition to facility upgrades to the tune of $800,000 over the past couple of years, the greenhouses now boast new leadership and more consolidated management.

To streamline operations, the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station (CUAES) recently assumed responsibility for the greenhouses and consolidated management operations that were previously controlled by multiple departments with varying needs and requirements.

Boasting 163 separate compartments, Cornell’s greenhouses function as multipurpose teaching and research facilities and in some buildings, public observatories.

Employees’ roles stretch beyond the fertilizing, watering and pruning that most people associate with plant maintenance. For example, many double as “virus detectives”. The staff is responsible for the setup, care and maintenance of more than 200 diverse plant projects, including transgenic corn that grows 18-inch ears, switchgrass for biofuels research and rare species of African trees.

Each plant has a different research, teaching and education purpose and all require special care.” There’s an incredible range of teaching and research projects in the CALS greenhouses, and there are always new faces and new challenges to keep it interesting,” sad Andy Leed, who took over as manager of the 155,000-sq.ft. facilities this past April.

Among the facilities upgrades is the just-completed construction of a new greenhouse with state-of-the-art temperature, humidity, lighting, shading and irrigation controls intended to take the college’s scientific research to new heights.

For more information, contact CUAES at (607) 255-2552 or e-mail

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