Dean's Message

periodiCALS, Vol. 7, Issue 1, 2017

Brooklyn Grange
The Brooklyn Grange, a commercial rooftop farm in New York City, was the site of an alumni farm-to-table dinner in June 2016 showcasing Cornell’s work on local food systems and sustainable agriculture. Photo: Diane Bondareff

Cornell University may be located in central New York, but its connections to New York City are wide-ranging, as you will see in this issue of periodiCALS. Programming in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has driven the evolution of food and agriculture—from farmsteads to city rooftops to our finest restaurants—for more than a hundred years. The range of our expertise is particularly evident in NYC. From Professor Nina Bassuk’s work with urban horticulture to Cornell Cooperative Extension’s program to safeguard the NYC water supply, we are sparking discovery and implementing change in urban agriculture, sustainability, and food entrepreneurship in one of the most exciting cities in the world.   

Food entrepreneurship is one area in which we are further expanding CALS’ reach in New York City through a new partnership with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Cornell’s Food Venture Center has already helped entrepreneurs launch more than 13,000 new food products into the market from its lab at the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y. Now we are hiring two new extension specialists, in food product safety and in urban agriculture, who will be located in the Department of Agriculture and Markets’ Brooklyn office. When those staff members are in place, we will open a satellite office of the Food Venture Center in New York City to work directly with city-based food entrepreneurs of all sizes to turn their concepts into innovative and safe commercial food products.

The satellite location is strategically placed to meet the ever-increasing demand for food processing and food safety expertise in this urban setting, and it will also help connect small-scale city food processors with products grown in upstate New York. So, for example, if a food entrepreneur in the city wishes to create a new line of tomato-based sauces, we can connect that person with a farmer upstate to ensure that the products are locally grown and locally manufactured.

In addition to meeting the needs of food entrepreneurs, our work also supports the city’s citizens through projects that link urban ecology and resilience. Whether it is landscape architects designing areas that can mitigate superstorm-sized flooding or projects that protect urban gardeners from soil contaminants, our work in the city is innovative and practical, and it touches lives across the five boroughs.

I am so proud of the role CALS plays in shaping the future of food, sustainability, and biodiversity—locally and globally—and I am equally grateful for your interest and your support.

Kathryn J. Boor
Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences