Cranberry Industry Support

The Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association honored CALS and the college’s Department of Horticulture for “125 Cranberry_awardyears of positive contributions to the citizens of the state, agricultural and cranberry industry.” Dean Kate VandenBosch and horticulture chair Irwin Goldman attended the ceremony, where they were presented recognition plaques. The event took place during a luncheon at the association’s Wisconsin Cranberry School at the Holiday Inn in Stevens Point. There were 200 people in attendance.

ARS Award Winners

This year’s crop of ARS award winners were honored during the ARS Awards Reception and Dinner last Thursday. CALS ARS Award Winnersphotographer Sevie Kenyon snapped this photo of them with ARS superintendent Dwight Mueller right after the ceremony. From left to right: Bryan Jensen, Excellence in Research Award; Dwight Mueller, ARS superintendent; Jeff Breuer, Staff Recognition Award; Cheryl Skjolass, Fisher Safety Award; Norlan “Ben” Benevenga, Excellence in Service Award.

Veggie earrings make a statement

If you’ve ever gaped at the interior of a purple carrot or a beauty heart radish while preparing dinner, you have a sense DSC_01261-e1415044008777-1024x492of what inspired plant geneticist Shelby Ellison to start making earrings out of vegetables.

“When I first started working with various pigmented carrots, I couldn’t believe how beautiful they were,” says Ellison, a postdoc in horticulture professor Phil Simon’s lab who studies the genetic control of carotenoid and anthocyanin pigments, the health-promoting compounds that turn carrots and other vegetables orange, purple, red and yellow.

Over the years, Ellison has looked at carrots from all over the world – and found some really stunning patterns. She started turning some of them into earrings about two years ago, and she’s also given beets and potatoes a try.

How does it work? Ellison cuts the veggies into shapes and then dries the pieces in an industrial dehydrator. Next, she coats the slices with lacquer to protect them from moisture and fading. Finally, she adds the metal earwires.

“The first few pairs I made are now over two years old and they still look pretty cool. The orange and yellow pigments begin to fade as they are exposed to the sun, but they still draw a lot of attention,” says Ellison, who says people often think the earrings are made out of decorative wood.

She wore a pair of carrot earrings at the recent Science of Supper Clubs event at the Wisconsin Science Festival, where they sparked a number of conversations with festival attendees and served as a handy science outreach “prop.”

“It’s a really nice way to introduce non-scientists to my research,” she says. “I can then explain how different pigments confer different nutritional benefits, and that we focus on these pigments to create more nutritious carrot varieties.”

You can learn more about colorful carrot and their pigments from Ellison in this recent podCALS interview: