While at the University of California, Davis in conjunction with their February board meeting, the AFE Board of Trustees learned a little something about flower power from the dozen or so presentations they heard from innovative industry educators.
One presentation came from Professor Heiner Lieth, Ph.D., who teaches the widely popular course titled Application of the Art and Science of the Beauty and Perfection of Flowers, or “Flower Power” as the course is fondly called. With 350 students enrolled in the class this spring, every seat in the hall is filled.
The course encourages students to develop an interest in floriculture in a fun way and learn about many facets of flowers, including how flowers are produced, how to handle them and common flower names. Students make flower arrangements for one class session, and certain other sessions involve additional floral activities and tackling dilemmas like choosing between a free pot mum or paying $5 for an orchid.
But the students have a clear message to send to the floriculture industry: they say the industry is doing a terrible job overall of getting flowers into the hands of young people.
“The students are taught about you and your industry and they have asked me to give you a message: You are doing a terrible job at getting flowers into their hands.“- UC Davis Professor Heiner Lieth
“This was part of a group discussion that was aimed at having the students identify the barriers to using flowers and to suggest how the industry might make changes that would be to their benefit,” Lieth said.
AFE is in discussions with Lieth to do a scientific survey in the near future addressing this issue.
Department of Entomology Professor and Chair Mike Parrella, Ph.D., organized the visit and told Trustees he wrote his first research grant ever to AFE.
“AFE set my world on fire and let me get started in my career and get my foot in the door,” he said. “I look at my success in the industry as being a direct result of AFE.”
Following the presentations, Trustees visited the The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden near the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
Since 2008, Häagen-Dazs ice cream has donated more than $700,000 to honey bee research through their “HD loves HB” campaign.
Christine Casey, the Honey Bee Haven manager, explained that awareness is growing that honeybees and other bee populations are in trouble.
“This is important because bee pollinators are responsible for one-third of our food, including the fruits, nuts and vegetables that make our diets nutritious and tasty,” she said. “Part of the problem is that development, crop production and increased herbicide use have eliminated much of bees traditional sources of habitat and food.”
The Honey Bee Haven educates and inspires urban gardeners to help make up for this by providing those needs in their gardens.
As an added bonus, Trustees also had the opportunity to visit the UC Davis winery, which is unlike any other in the world.
The $4 million Jess S. Jackson Sustainable Winery Building is the first university building to attain Net Zero Energy Building Certification from the Living Building Challenge and the only winery in the world to earn LEED platinum certification.
“This was the first building to generate more energy than it uses in the whole UC system and possibly in all of California,” said Roger Boulton, Ph.D., Stephen Sinclair Scott Endowed Chair in Viticulture and Enology at UC Davis. “It is grossly energy positive.”
The 34,000-square-foot state of the art complex houses a teaching and research winery, brewery and food-processing space, made possible largely by a $3 million pledge from Jess Jackson and wife Barbara Banke, advocates for sustainable wine making.
On-site energy production, rainwater harvesting, and water reuse enable the building to be fully sustainable in energy and water, as well as fully solar.
Whenever possible, AFE attempts to schedule board meetings to include visits to universities where AFE-funded research is occurring.
Many more photos are available on the AFE Facebook page.