News and Events

October Update

While harvesting and data collection continue (and lab work is just starting!), students are beginning to present their research projects from the summer.  At the Inquiry at UST poster session on October 3, Anneliese Johnson, Courtney Pelissero, and Katie Dennis present their posters.

Meanwhile, the Friday campus farmstand continues for a couple more weeks.

Compost Nutrient Recycling Efficiency Study Published

Counties in the Twin Cities Metro area aim to dramatically increase the amount of organic waste that is recycled through composting over the next two decades.  While there is plenty of additional food waste that could be composted, the supply of wood chips needed to mix with this food waste may ultimately prove to be the limiting factor in scaling up composting.

The paper by the Stewardship Science Team, titled “Assessing How the Ratio of Barley Mash to Wood Chips in Compost Affects Rates of Microbial Processing and Subsequent Vegetable Yield“, published in the journal Compost Science & Utilization, explores the consequences of diverging from the standard 50:50 ratio of food waste to wood chips.  The study was led by UST student (now alum) Brendan Sisombath, Dr. Chip Small and Dr. Adam Kay, and featured a collaboration with community partner Russ Henry, owner of Giving Tree Gardens.  In 2014, 10 compost piles were set up using different ratios of barley mash (a proxy for food waste) and wood chips.  During the following summer, the finished compost was used in the UST Stewardship Garden to grow tomatoes and arugula.  Although the maximum amount of nutrients was recycled using high barley (low wood chip) compost, these treatments also had lower nutrient recycling efficieny compared to intermediate mixtures.  The results show that the use of wood chips in composting increases the efficiency of nutrient retention from food waste and in turn enhance nutrient recycling in urban ecosystems.

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Brendon Sisombath preparing to measure microbial activity in the compost piles in 2014.

Urban Flower Field Opening Event!

Thanks to all who attended the Urban Flower Field opening on Saturday, July 8th! We had some awesome lemonade, rock painting, and great conversations with neighbors and some of our Stewardship Science students!

The Urban Flower Field is located at the corner of 10th Street and Robert Street, at Pedro Park in downtown St. Paul. If you couldn’t make it, go check out the field for yourself, or stay tuned to this page for future events.OpeningPosterUFFStone painting - from tentStone painting - paint cans 2

 Lifelong Learners featured in Newsroom

Adam Kay, one of the professors leading research this summer just wrapped up teaching a Global Agriculture course. They stopped by the Stewardship Garden one morning to check out how we are merging science and social stewardship, and we are happy they are getting visibility throughout all of campus! Read the whole article here.


Stewardship Science at National Meetings

Members of the Stewardship Science team will be presenting research at the Ecological Society of America meeting in Portland, Oregon, this August, and at the Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry meeting in Minneapolis in November.

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  • Chip Small – “Are urban gardens a source of P pollution?”
  • Sara Osborne – “Measuring the fate of P lost through leachate from urban gardens”

Stewardship Garden Opening Event!

Our opening event for the 2017 season was a success! We had a great turnout, and a fantastic time sharing our research and swapping stories with friends, students, and neighbors!


If you couldn’t make it to this event, stay tuned to this page for more. We will be hosting events throughout the summer and would love to meet you!


Small receives National Science Foundation Early Career Grant

Dr. Chip Small received a five-year Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant from the National Science Foundation to study the effects of urban agriculture expansion and climate change on nutrient recycling and loss in urban ecosystems.  The award supports junior faculty who undertake outstanding research, are committed to excellence in education and will be leaders in integrating education and research.  Check out coverage of our research program and the grant in Newsroom and CAS Spotlight.