PORTLAND - The Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension facility in Portland was the host Friday to 50 military officers from 49 different countries. They were part of the U.S. Army War College International Fellows visit to Western New York.
The purpose of this visit was to explain to the officers how collaboration, cooperation and strategic planning can cross borders and benefit a multitude of interests.
Kevin Bremer, a former Portland resident and the son of Mr. and Mrs. Rick Manzella who operate a grape farm on Fuller Road in Portland, was a War College representative who accompanied the officers.
OBSERVER Photo by Joan Josephson
U.S. Army War College International Fellows participants examine grapes grown at the Cornell Lake Erie Research and Extension Laboratory in Portland.
"They will be visiting my father's farm Saturday morning where he will explain to them how a grape farm was once run and how it is run today," Bremer said Friday.
At the Cornell Lab, the visitors learned how the collaborative effort between Cornell and Penn State along the grape industry and the cooperative extension is working to help grape farmers improve their product.
"We piece together U.S, businesses and culture in a two-state program that involves 30,000 acres of grapes - 20,000 in New York and 10,000 in Pennsylvania," Cornell Lab grape extension area educator Tim Weigle told the officers.
He said the lab develops tools for the grape growers to use to deal with insects, bears and deer - all of which feast on grapes.
During a discussion of the various treatments used to control the insect population, an officer asked about the potential impact the chemicals would have on the human population.
He and the participants were assured that agencies associated with the U.S. and state governments keep close control over the use and safety of chemicals.
The question is, what do military officers have to do with grapes? The answer: the cooperative strategies that are followed to solve problems.
"There are no state lines when it comes to pests and weather; there is no escape when either decide to hit the grape vineyards. We work to develop solutions," Cornell lab director Dr. Terry Bates said.
Bremer was asked if the officers were asked to give their assessment of the various visits they made to the grape industry and the producing farms.
"They give an assessment after each visit to let us know if we targeted their interests and concerns," he said.
Bremer said the cooperation between the grape industry, growers and the Cornell and Penn Universities is another indication of how this strategy works to the benefit of all.
As the tour of the Cornell lab concluded, one officer said, "Each of us share a different army's perspective and the interaction we have with one another affects global interest."