“Hands-on activities” get even more exciting when they involve razor blades! Participants in the Tech in Ag workshop, sponsored by EducationProjects.org, the Ohio State University, and USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s PD-STEP program, had the opportunity to try their hands at vegetable grafting.

Mark Kroggel, OSU lecturer in Controlled Environment Agriculture, told the group that grafting is done for disease resistance or vigor. For instance, grafting can improve a plant’s cold tolerance and help overcome soil-borne diseases. “Every major land grant university studies some form of vegetable grafting,” Kroggel said.

After demonstrating the process of grafting and establishing the new plants, workshop participants performed grafts on several tomato and melon plants.

John Ertle, a graduate student in the Controlled Environment Agriculture program, assisted in the demonstration. He explained that grafting allows the creation of hardier plants and is a way for farmers to try new varieties and assess yield.

Workshop participant Mike Liston teaches in the Outdoor Careers program at Tolles Career Center. He said, “I have a student who went on to OSU ATI for greenhouse production. He just finished his first year and he had never seen vegetable plant grafting until I sent pictures to him of our activity. He’s interested and wants to learn more!”