Last week I had just carried hot tea and goodies to my place in the auditorium. Mike Schnelle no doubt gave a rousing welcome to all attendees of the 2018 Global Horticulture Conference.

Last week I had just carried hot tea and goodies to my place in the auditorium. Mike Schnelle no doubt gave a rousing welcome to all attendees of the 2018 Global Horticulture Conference.

Tim Bowser, Food Process Engineer, presented a lengthy talk about “Water Treatment in Developing Areas”. We here in the USA take water for granted. Much of Africa and several developing nations have little water available and contamination is a problem, especially in agricultural practices. Healthiest way to apply water is through drip (as in Israel) versus overhead sprinklers. When clean water is applied to plants, the numbers of bacteria drop. Water treatment options include (1) None. Drill bore holes (Mwanza, Tanzania) and people pay to collect water from wells. No treatment; water used from open ponds and creeks. (2) Point of Use. Water treatment in-home systems with concrete filters. Biosand with healthy bacteria used. Ceramic filters (Cambodia, Guatamala) use burned organic material to filter water. Wastewater irrigation using contaminated water (Dhaka, Bangladesh). In these countries only 2% of wastewater is treated and the rest enters the environment. (3) Source. Municipal water treatment. Surface water supply. Rural areas have no distribution available; water is carried by hand or in trucks.

Recommendations: (1) Drip irrigation. (2) Teach good agriculture practices. (3) Promote use and value of clean water. (4) Wastewater treatment is not optional.

Because Peter Omara was unable to come, a passionate Bill Raun once again promoted the OSU Handplanter. The Rotarians have become involved with helping the dispersal of the seeders. Five hundred and thirty-five Rotary Districts span the globe with over 35,000 Rotary Clubs in 200+ countries that have 1.2 million members.

Randy Kluver, Dean of School of Global Studies and Partnerships at OSU, desired to “Enhance OSU’s Global Footprint and Impact”. Global awareness needs to be created. Worldwide research benefits growth. Five hundred higher institutions could change the world. Oklahoma State’s Land Grant heritage could help deal with global problems of climate, water, and refugees.

Mike Schnelle described Egypt’s multitude of flowers and veggies and showed pictures of lemons, papayas, pineapples, dates, palms, olives and other produce. He was followed by OSU Dr. Barbara Brown, chef extraordinaire for the TV Oklahoma Gardening series. Her goal-in-progress is to visit all 50 states, but her international experiences already include Canada, Northern Italy, Spain, Nicaragua. Haiti, Mozambique, Ecuador and France. Working in Extension helped Barbara cope with challenges. Her recommendations: Know subject matter, who to contact for help, be flexible, patient and expect different creature comforts. In Nicaragua she traveled by boat and horse. Haiti earthquake damage destroyed roads and supplies were trucked in and out by donkeys. Haitian dehydrated fruit is still sent to

Canada. In Mozambique cardboard boxes were painted black inside with netting and boards inserted to make fruit dehydrators. Between Quito and Otavalo Ecuador were miles of greenhouses growing roses. Most the flowers were destined for the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Barbara prepared the Mozambique dish Xima. The type of cornmeal used in Africa has a flour-like texture (not gritty as found in OK) and is cooked in salt water to form a corn porridge. Three scoops are traditionally put on a plate. Barbara served this with a Mozambique vegetable combination of celery, fresh ginger, minced jalapeno pepper, green beans, kale, sweet potato and spices simmered in coconut milk, chicken broth and tomato sauce. We each had a sample. Wow.

Dr. Bo Zhang described Asian influences on US Landscapes from a historical perspective. Sir William Chambers (1723- 1796) was a Scottish-Swedish architect who made 3 trips to China and published several articles on oriental gardening designs. A merging of Chinese and European architecture began in 1790 with 40 examples built in England and 30 in France; many still exist. The US also had early Chinese connections. Henry Murphy (1877-1954), American architect and Yale graduate noted for designing college campuses, traveled to China in 1914 to design a Yale-in-China campus. He became enthralled with the Chinese architecture. Before the 1920’s, oriental architecture was in wood, but concrete and steel later dominated. Most Asian inspired designs can be found in the eastern/mid-western US in public parks, zoological parks, private gardens, theaters and even a few gas stations. My bucket list now includes seeing the Pagoda in Patterson Park, Baltimore MD, built in 1890 and restored 2005.

‘Hello! Catering’ out of Perkins prepared our lunch of meats, salad, baked potatoes, rolls and desserts. Dr. Kate Schecter of World Neighbors talked about vulnerable and volatile countries and their outreach programs in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. Since 1951 World Neighbors (Oklahoma City based charity) has transformed the lives of 27 million people in 45 countries. They help people help themselves.

“Healthy Soil for Healthy People” was Dr. Adam Cobb’s topic. While most think horticulture is the art and science of growing and handling fruits, veggies, flowers, ornamentals and so on, this OSU PhD examined the intersection of human nutrition and soil ecology. Soil degradation is a problem. Soil health is the capacity of soils to function as a living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans. It is an underground zoo of predators, consumers and others. Microscopic arbuscular fungi connect the root systems of plants to improve nutrient and water uptake. Fungi in one teacup of healthy soil can equal 30 football fields of arbuscular fungal threads. Only a few plants are non-mycorrhizal: mustards, canola, amaranths (pigweed). Don’t diss the breeders, but taste, smell and other qualities have been sacrificed for appearance and durability. Till less, increase diversity and cover the soil with mulches to help soil health recover. Jose Graziano da Silva (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) said: “What happens with agriculture will determine what happens to our world.”

We were taken on a Uganda adventure by students Iliana Rodriquez and Catherine Rutan. The Small Farmer Association of Peru by Dr. Shida Henneberry (Masters of International Agriculture Program Director) opened our eyes to the 33% below poverty level of 30 million Peruvians. Peru has three distinct types of agriculture. Professor Joshua Ringer described a selection of plant species that survived and improved soils in small farms of SE Asia.

Mike Schnelle ended the conference rehashing the impact of women in horticulture, Republic of Congo plants, and a brief description of the elaborate Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Ancient coffee forests grew on the Ethiopian plateau. Ethiopia was the first place for coffee cultivation. A great honor to be asked to coffee.

Food samples were given out. Linda gave me her Burdock Taproots and chestnuts to go along with my brown sugar cone, canned fruit drinks and teas. At home the burdock roots were peeled and braised with carrots. They had a firm, chewy texture and nutty flavor. The Mozambique vegetable recipe was made, but I substituted warm slices of polenta for the Xima. I guess you could say it was Okie style Xima with Mozambique veggies.

What an experience to once again attend the Global Horticulture Conference. Looking forward to number 5 in 2020!

Pics: Burdock Roots in small blue bowl (on old cell phone yet to be put into the laptop collection); Xima and veggies in blue serving bowl (first one of the three); “Deemer Beach Park” (Linda’s); “No Treatment-Unhealthy Option” (Linda’s)

Becky Emerson Carlberg, graduate of Oklahoma State (Plant Pathology) is a teacher, artist, writer as well as certified Oklahoma Master Gardener and Master Naturalist. Contact her at