Author: UConn Extension

October Apple Challenge with the Tray Project

apple crunch poster

October meant apple challenges for school districts participating in the Put Local On Your Tray Project. You can find recipes for apples on the website. They also share the following about apples:

In the Past: Apple trees belong to the rose family, and originated in Central Asia in the mountains of southern Kazakhastan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and China. It is perhaps the earliest tree to be cultivated for food.

In the Soil: There are 7,500 recognized varieties of apple today around the world. Apples grow only in temperate climates because they need a cold period in which to go dormant. Some trees can withstand temperatures down to -40 F.

In the Kitchen: Each apple variety ripens at a different time of season, and has a unique combination of firmness, crispness, acidity, juiciness, and sweetness. These factors make some varieties more suited to eating fresh, and others to storing or cooking.

In the Body: Apples are a wonderful source of potassium and vitamin C. They also contain pectin, which supports healthy cholesterol, blood sugar, and cellulose levels. The apple skin is where most of these beneficial nutrients are concentrated.

In Connecticut: Out of the 7,500 varieties of apple worldwide, 60 are grown right here in Connecticut. Our apples are generally available from mid July through the end of December.

Additional Resources:

Check out www.ctapples.org for more recipes and a list of orchards in Connecticut.

Home Water Systems: Wells

water well Distric La Serra
Photo: Wikimedia

In Connecticut, approximately 15% of residents receive their drinking water from private wells. In rural areas of the state, that percentage increases to greater than 90%.

An owner of a private well is also a manager of the well.  As manager of the well, the homeowner is responsible for making sure that the water is safe to drink and the well is  not damaged or compromised.   Public water systems are required to regularly test water and meet federally set water quality standards.  Private wells are not required to test and meet standards except following installation and at time of sale of the property.

It is important to have a basic understanding of factors affecting well water, what to test for andwhere to have well water tested.  Practices to reduce the risk of contamination of well water are also important to the safety of drinking water.

Many homeowners are unaware of the recommendation to routinely test their private well.  A basic series of tests is recommended annually. Other tests should be conducted based on potential sources of contaminants that may affect the well. This would be based on the potential presence of naturally occurring contaminants or those introduced by human activities/land uses.

It is recommended that homeowners use a testing laboratory that is EPA certified to test. The EPA has certified laboratories to assure that the labs have the proper equipment to test for the contaminants that they advertise.  Not all environmental laboratories test for everything.  It is a good consumer practice to compare two or three labs to determine which best suits the consumer’s needs.

If the water tests indicate that there is a problem, information is available to help the homeowner understand what the problem is and what options are available to address the problem if needed.

There are a number of steps that homeowners can take that can help to protect the quality of water in the private well.

Article by Karen Filchak, Retired Extension Educator

UConn CVMDL Monitoring for Longhorned Tick

A female longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis). Credit/ James Gathany/CDC/Anna E. Perea2018
A female longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis). Credit: James Gathany/CDC/Anna E. Perea 2018

Recent reports of the longhorned tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis or Asian Longhorned tick)being found in Westchester County, New York have alarmed livestock owners and outdoor enthusiasts statewide. The longhorned tick is native to Asia and was reported in the continental USA in November 2017, when it was first discovered on a sheep farm in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.  This tick has already been identified in western Connecticut.  While the Asian longhorned ticks discovered in the United States has not been found to carry any pathogen causing human diseases, In Asia the longhorned tick has been associated with tick-borne encephalitis, and they are apparently capable of carrying Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Ehrlichia chaffeensis, Babesiaspecies, and Powassan virus all of which can affect humans. This tick may also represent a problem for farm animals since they can transmit a pathogen that causes theileriosis, a disease of cattle and sheep, as well as the agents that cause babesisosis in animals. An interesting feature of this tick is that it can reproduce by parthogenesis (no male needed), so the number of ticks on one animal can be very high.

UConn’s Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL), part of the Department of Pathobiology in the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, is on the frontline of tick testing to keep humans and animals safe.

“Our staff are watching out for this tick among our tick submissions,” says Dr. Joan Smyth, Director of CVMDL. “To date we have not had any longhorned ticks. Our lab offers tick identification services, in addition to the many other services provided.”

Ticks are disease-carrying arachnids that reside in moist areas, long grass and the leaf litter and will latch onto humans and animals alike. Although there are many different species of ticks, people generally think of one tick species in particular when worrying about illness: the deer tick (Ixodes scapularis). While the Deer tick is predominantly known for transmitting Lyme disease (caused by the corkscrew-shaped bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi) it can also carry other disease-causing agents. A single tick can transmit more than one infectious agent.

In humans, symptoms from a longhorned tick bite include rash, fever, nausea, body aches, tiredness, headache and vomiting. Symptoms for animals vary by species and can include blood loss, anemia, skin irritations and infections. Always consult your veterinarian if you notice changes in your animals.

Tick testing at CVMDL serves multiple purposes. It helps the person or veterinarian who submitted the tick understand the potential exposure of the subject that the tick was found on. Our researchers are also using the results from tick testing to track current and emerging disease producing agents carried by ticks. The data can be used in setting priority areas for prevention and vaccine development.

If you find a tick on yourself, your child, or your pet, remove it immediately! CVMDL can test the tick for pathogens. Ticks received at the CVMDL are first examined under a microscope by trained technicians to determine the species of tick, life stage, and degree of blood engorgement, all of which are factors that may impact transmission of pathogens to the person or animal. Ticks may then be tested for the DNA of pathogens that are common to that tick species. Results are normally reported within 3-5 business days of receiving the sample, but next day testing is available for an additional fee.

Please send ticks together with a small square of moist paper towel, in sealed zip lock bags. The submission form, pricing and the “Do’s and Don’ts of tick testing” can be found on our website at http://s.uconn.edu/468.

For more information, read the article from UConn Magazinethat includes tips to prevent tick bites, or watch the UConn Science in Seconds video. You can also contact the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory at cvmdl@uconn.edu or 860-486-3738 or visit the tick testing page on our website http://cvmdl.uconn.edu/service/tick.php.

Celebrate 40 Years of the UConn Extension Master Gardener Program

Master Gardener banner photo
UConn Extension’s Master Gardener Program is celebrating 40 years of transforming academic research into practical gardening skills and techniques that everyone can use. The program sprouted in 1978 from the roots of the founding program at Washington State University. The program instructs participants in science-based horticulture practices and garden management, after which students apply their knowledge by engaging in community education, including lectures, educational displays, demonstrations and plant clinics, and various outreach projects throughout Connecticut.

Nancy Ballek Mackinnon of Ballek’s Nursery and Nancy DuBrule-Clemente of Natureworks are both presenting at a 40thAnniversary Celebrationof the UConn Extension Master Gardener Program on Monday, November 12thfrom 5:30-7:30 PM at the Pond House Café in West Hartford. Tickets are $75 per person and includes the presentations, small bites, door prizes, and a $50 donation to the UConn Extension Master Gardener program. The goal is to raise $40,000 to celebrate 40 years of wonderful work through several initiatives.

“We are marking the occasion in a few ways, but we’re really using the moment to look ahead to the next forty years,” says Sarah Bailey, state coordinator and Hartford County coordinator for the Master Gardener Program. “We love what we do and want to continue helping people of all ages learn and discover the joys of gardening and the natural world.”

Master Gardener’s outreach efforts are unique to each county and help meet local needs, often providing food to soup kitchens, food banks and residents living in food

students in garden
Nathan Hale students care for a garden bed.

deserts. UConn Extension Master Gardeners predominately work in community and school gardens and on farms and wildlife management areas, teaching crop selection and management practices to children and adults. In Pomfret, Windham County Master Gardeners care for People’s Harvest, a 15,000 square foot community garden that produces vegetables for area soup kitchens. People’s Harvest is popular with youth groups in the region, who learn about sustainable agricultural methods and food security from the volunteers. At Camp Harkness in Waterford, Master Gardener interns and volunteers practice horticulture therapy with adults with disabilities. Master Gardeners frequently attend farmers’ markets, fairs and other local events, eager to share their knowledge with the public.

Along with the certification process, the program offers Garden Master Classes, which allow further educational training. These classes are also open to the public,

providing instruction on gardening and a variety of related topics. The impact of their work has increased over time. In 2017, 574 Master Gardeners completed a total of 33,609 hours of service to communities and residents, compared to 23,500 hours in 2013. The restructured certification class debuting in January aims to create an even more robust and diverse group of Master Gardeners.

“The Master Gardener Program was founded to meet public need and encouraged individuals to participate. We’re continuing those traditions by growing as our audience changes,” says Bailey.

Tickets for the 40thAnniversary Celebration are available at http://s.uconn.edu/4hcor by contacting Amber Guilllemette at Amber.Guillemette@uconn.eduor 860-486-7178. To learn more about the UConn Extension Master Gardener program visit MasterGardener.UConn.edu.

Text by Jason Sheldon for UConn Extension

Robotic Conference at UConn

dairy cow coming out of milking parlor

Register by Friday, October 19th to attend the Robotic Milking Conference at UConn. The day-long event will cover the impacts on animal health, welfare, and economic sustainability for Northeast dairy farms. Admission is $40 per person and $20 for students. For more information and to register visit s.uconn.edu/roboticmilking

4-H in the Summer: Libraries Rock!

By Pamela Gray

geology puddingEvery summer, New London County 4-H provides programming to our local libraries. These partnerships benefit the libraries as 4-H provides technological equipment that are not affordable to individual libraries (especially the rural libraries in our county) and a range of experiential learning activities not readily available to libraries with limited staff. 4-H activities are easily adapted to fit any age group and is beneficial to every individual, regardless of their learning abilities. The theme this summer, 4-H Libraries Rock!, was a 7-session summer program giving participants the opportunity to do STEAM-related activities (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math).

Instead of taking a two month break from school, participants continued learning over the summer, promoting greater learning at school, more enthusiasm in the classroom, and a desire for experiential learning outside of the classroom. 4-H Libraries Rock! encouraged youth to work as a team, taught how problem-solving leads to success, and gave a general understanding of STEAM concepts.

A successful experience from the Janet Carlson Calvert Library (Franklin) involved young adults with special needs. These individuals were able to take part in the activity “ROCKets to the Rescue”. Together they assembled rockets made out of cardstock and launched by stomping on a soda bottle connected by PVC piping to the rocket (aka air propulsion). It was a challenge for the special needs participants using large motor skills to stomp on the soda bottle. However, with patience and assistance, they were thrilled to see their rockets shoot into the sky.

4-H Libraries Rock! programs at Groton Library and Otis Library (Norwich) reach a diverse community. The central locations of the libraries make them available to ozobot rocknroll dance partychildren and families who do not have transportation and need to depend on public transportation or walking. The majority of the youth participating in these programs make up urban demographics and may not have caregivers who are able to enroll their children in costly summer enrichment activities. 4-H’s involvement in these communities encourage and enhance youth’s cognitive development through the summer.

Today’s youth rely heavily on technology to solve problems and for some youth, experiential learning is intimidating. The first week of 4-H Libraries Rock!, youth made foil boats. They pulled out their cell phones, googling the best way to make a boat that will hold the most pennies before sinking. The 4-H instructor asked “Why would you use someone else’s knowledge when you have a brain of your own?” The phones were put away, and never came out again for the rest of the summer. Other kids engaged in negative self-talk: “This is stupid.” “This is not fun. Can I leave?” “I can’t do this.” Encouraging positive remarks, from the 4-H leaders and from kids to each other, such as “Let’s try again.” “That’s so awesome!” “Can I have help?” were game changers for the youth. They brought family members into the library to see what they were doing, and started each week with a ‘can-do’ attitude, no matter the activity or how challenging.

For more information on 4-H STEM activities, or how to get involved in 4-H, contact your local 4-H Program Coordinator here.

Ken Trice: 4-H Volunteer Spotlight

Ken Trice volunteering at Tolland County 4-H program4-H affiliation: Tolland County 4-H Advisory Committee member
How did you learn about 4-H
Fifteen years ago visiting the Tolland County 4-H Fair with my 3 daughters (then ages 8, 6,and 4). At the time the oldest two registered for the upcoming 4-H year with the Willy Nilly 4-H club. The youngest was a sort of mascot for two years.
What is your favorite memory
Really too many to list. But, most surprising was my middle daughter actually getting dirty with her goat at an obstacle course. This was a total surprise to my wife and me.
How does 4-H meet your needs
Best organization ever for my daughters and me. Both, they and I, learned and grew with the involvement in 4-H. It has provided me with the ability to give back to other young folks up in coming in 4-H. The Trice girls swear by 4-H

Crime Prevention

Jonathan looking at leafSeptember is over yet hurricane season remains throughout October. Quiet periods in between weather events are perfect times to check your existing emergency preparedness plans, to complete planning yet accomplished, and to acquire emergency supplies not yet in place. October is considered a quieter time than other months. Although storms can happen at any time – recall the October 8, 2011 ice storm in New England. It is the perfect time to prepare as a consequence.

October is National Crime Prevention Month. The National Crime Prevention Council sponsors this. (https://www.ncpc.org/programs/crime-prevention-month/) The organization produces a 28-page crime prevention kit as a PDF titled “Keeping Our Communities Safe.”

(https://www.ncpc.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/CrimePreventionMonthKit_2017-2018.pdf)

October is also Fire Safety Month. Fire safety week is October 7 ending October 13, 2018, and many local fire departments sponsor educational awareness event this week. Be sure to change the batteries in you fire and smoke detectors.

 

Here are three excellent sources of researched-based information on fire safety:

National Fire Prevention Association

https://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Campaigns/Fire-Prevention-Week

Consumer Safety

https://www.consumersafety.org/news/safety/national-fire-prevention-week/

American Red Cross

https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire.html

Feel free to email me with any questions and you are encouraged to visit the UConn EDEN (Extension Disaster Education Network) website. (https://eden.uconn.edu/)

Robert M. Ricard, Ph.D.

Coordinator, UConn EDEN