Horticulture Innovation Lab Demonstration Center at UC Davis

UC Davis students plant vegetable seedlings in raised garden beds on campus, with cooling shed and solar panels in background.
UC Davis students Emily Baker and Robert Duggan transplant African and Asian varieties of vegetables at the Horticulture Innovation Lab Demonstration Center on the UC Davis campus.

The Horticulture Innovation Lab hosts a small "Demonstration Center" for visitors to the University of California, Davis, campus. Campus visitors can find the Demonstration Center on this campus map, located on the edge of Solano Field and Arboretum Drive, near the Environmental Horticulture buildings.

The Demonstration Center’s mission is to share technologies and practices with colleagues visiting from around California, the country, and the world. This is an active site for students, faculty, and staff to test new horticultural tools and demonstrate best practices for growing fruits and vegetables — particularly those helpful to small-scale farmers in developing countries.

This new Demonstration Center is also part of the UC Davis GATEways Project, a campuswide initiative developed by the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden to showcase the academic strengths of UC Davis, inspire life-long learning and engage with the local community.

Technologies at the Demonstration Center

The Demonstration Center includes adaptations and demonstrations of horticultural technologies. These horticultural innovations have been designed to help smallholder farmers overcome field and market challenges at low costs and with simple materials. Here are some of the technologies demonstrated at this center, with links to basic fact sheets:

  • CoolBot for cold rooms
    The CoolBot was designed by an American farmer to trick an air-conditioner into creating a small cold room at reduced costs, to cool produce fresh from the fields. The CoolBot and air conditioner in the Demonstration Center's cold room are powered by solar panels, for off-grid cooling.
  • Solar dryers
    The Demonstration Center currently has two UC Davis-designed chimney solar dryers and sometimes a more traditional cabinet dryer model on display too.
  • Pest-exclusion nets
    At times, some of the garden beds at the Demonstration Center use netting to keep out pests and plant diseases. Variations of net covers and larger nethouses have been used by Horticulture Innovation Lab researchers in African and Asian countries.
  • Solar-powered pump for irrigation
  • Zero-energy cool chamber (ZECC)
    This simple brick-and-sand structure can help cool fresh produce inexpensively in conditions where evaporative cooling is effective. More information about the ZECC.

These are some additional technologies that the Horticulture Innovation Lab commonly uses and demonstrates to tour groups, but that are not left outside on display at the center:

The Horticulture Innovation Lab Demonstration Center also includes several garden beds with a rotating assortment of African and Asian varieties of vegetables.

Updates and photos from the Demonstration Center

Find updates on our blog about current activities at our campus Demonstration Center:

We also keep photos from the center in this Flickr album: Horticulture Innovation Lab at UC Davis

Grand opening event

On Oct. 16, 2015, The Horticulture Innovation Lab held the official grand opening of this Demonstration Center to coincide with World Food Day. More than 100 people attended the event, with speakers including Congressman Ami Bera (CA-7) and Helene Dillard, dean of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

For more about the event, read the Davis Enterprise newspaper article about it "On World Food Day, UC Davis looks to the future."

2016 events

On Oct. 11, the Horticulture Innovation Lab hosted a tour of the Demonstration Center in honor of World Food Day and as part of the UC Davis Campus Community Book Project. Guides shared information about solar dryers, cool storage, postharvest handling, and fruits and vegetable varieties from Africa and Asia. See the archived calendar event for more information.

More about the Horticulture Innovation Lab at UC Davis

The Horticulture Innovation Lab is led by a team from UC Davis with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development. This highly collaborative program is part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Learn more about the Horticulture Innovation Lab's background and history.

Learn more about the Horticulture Innovation Lab's partner universities and other collaborators.

Global Demonstration Centers, past and present

The Horticulture Innovation Lab Demonstration Center at UC Davis is one of three Demonstration Centers that were opened by the Horticulture Innovation Lab around the world. Learn out more about these Demonstration Centers.

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