Horticulture Research Station marks 50th anniversary

From Iowa State’s earliest day’s horticulture was a key component of the college. Horticulture classes were offered when Iowa State University’s first students were enrolled in 1869.

Horticulture was the first agricultural discipline to be organized as a separate department. Early horticultural leaders in the college included Charles Bessey, Joseph Budd and Spencer Beach.

The Chieftain apple variety was developed at Iowa State.

Orchards dotted the college’s campus in those early days, but were moved to make room for buildings and more activity. In 1967, the Horticulture Research Station found its present home 6 miles north of Ames.

“For 50 years, the Horticulture Research Station has been the site for the creation and application of new horticultural information,” said Jeff Iles, chair of the Department of Horticulture. “More recently, the scope of research conducted at the farm has expanded beyond its historic horticultural roots, but the spirit and formula for solving problems using the scientific method remains the same.”

The 50th anniversary of Iowa State’s Horticulture Research Station will be celebrated Sept. 16 at the station. An anniversary booklet (PDF) will be available at the celebration.

The public is invited to help mark the anniversary at a free field day beginning at 12:30 p.m. There will be farm tours, apple demonstrations, games for children and an anniversary program hosted by Iles.

The station is the site of dozens of research and demonstration projects including work with fruit, vegetables, turfgrass, trees, pollinators, cover crops and animals, such as turtles, bees and birds. Produce grown at the station is sold to the Iowa State Dining Services and others on campus.

The anniversary schedule includes:

  • 12:30 p.m. – gates open
  • 1 – 4:30 p.m., farmer’s market and games
  • 1 – 3 p.m., apple grading and produce washer demonstration by Iowa State’s Horticulture Club
  • 1 – 3 p.m., tours led by station staff and grad students
  • 3 – 3:45 p.m., brief anniversary program
  • 3:45 – 5 p.m., repeated apple grading and produce washer demonstration
  • 3:45 – 5 p.m., repeated tours

The Horticulture Research Station is located at 55519 170th St., Ames.

Learn more about the station in this video.