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Class builds sod sofa -- and teamwork -- on Ag Quad

Two dozen Art of Horticulture students transformed several truckloads of compost and pallets of sod into a huge and surprisingly elegant sofa outside Roberts Hall on Cornell's Ag Quad Sept. 7.

With hands, rakes and shovels, they molded the sofa's soil frame. Then they upholstered the frame with carefully cut and fitted sections of sod. A week or two of watering will help the sod take root.

"We start off each semester with a team-building project," says Marcia Eames-Sheavly, the instructor for the course. "It's a chance to be outside, to get to know each other, to work and laugh and get dirty together.

"If all you see is the final product -- the sofa -- you've missed the most exciting part: This process cements us together as a class," she adds.

Last year's class created a similar sofa carved into a bank overlooking a pond at the F.R. Newman Arboretum at Cornell Plantations, and previous classes have built abstract turf sculptures at the Bluegrass Lane Turf and Landscape Research Center.

Department of Horticulture turf specialist Frank Rossi lent his technical expertise to the installation. Cornell Grounds Department's Peter Salino and his staff provided valuable help and support.

Next spring, the sod and soil will be recycled into new landscaping beds outside Roberts Hall to be planned and planted by another group of students taking the course, Horticulture 4910 -- Creating the Urban Eden: Woody Plant Selection, Design and Landscape Establishment.

Craig Cramer is communications specialist in the Department of Horticulture at Cornell.

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