Agriculture

CT Farm to School Collaborative Welcomes Nyree Hodges

Nyree HodgesWe are thrilled to introduce Nyree Hodges, our new Project Coordinator of the CT Farm To School Collaborative. She will be our point person for all future steps on the CT Farm to School Action Plan.  Here’s a little bit about Nyree:
Nyree brings several years of experience as a non-formal educator/teacher in environmental education, nutrition, and service learning. Nyree has worked with a variety of community-based organizations in New Haven and Bridgeport, including buildOn, Green Village Initiative, FoodCorps, Healthy CT Alliance, and Common Ground. She finds it essential to be informed and in solidarity with every person in our community, to acknowledge and sustain diversity, anti-racism, and inclusivity. Nyree has a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences- Community Health Education. She is committed to active listening and implementing the hard work put into the FTS Action Plan from her predecessor(s). 
Please welcome Nyree! 

Ask UConn Extension Your Questions

Indu
Indu Upadhyaya, Food Safety Assistant Extension Educator. Photo: Kevin Noonan

UConn Extension has collaborated with our partners, communities and stakeholders for over 100 years. We are proud to serve all 169 cities and towns in Connecticut. The worldwide pandemic involving COVID-19 (coronavirus) has produced unprecedented challenges in the UConn community and around the world. Our services continue during this challenging time.

We are still delivering the science-based information you need. We are ready to answer your questions. Consult with us by email or on the phone. All of our educators are working and ready to serve you. Ask us a question online.

We are developing virtual programs to offset canceled in-person learning Abby Beissingeropportunities. Our educators are writing and updating fact sheets and other information. You have access to educational materials on our YouTube channel. We are growing our suite of online resources every day to meet the needs of our communities and stakeholders.

UConn CAHNR Extension educators have curated resources related to COVID-19 for our statewide audiences, including families, businesses, and agricultural producers.

Resources for all audiences includes:

  • Food safety and cooking
  • Hand washing and sanitizers
  • Infection prevention
  • Financial advice
  • Listings of open farms/farmers’ markets and school emergency meal distribution

Parents and families with children out of school can use the resources from our UConn 4-H program to provide new educational activities for youth. Activities available will keep youth engaged and learning and are appropriate for a variety of age groups.

Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy
Bruce Hyde presenting at Land Use Academy.

A list of resources has been collected for Connecticut businesses. It is a clearinghouse of resources, and not an official site. Business owners can connect to the state resources we provide for official and legal advice.

Agricultural producers are still working on farms, in greenhouses and along the coast in Long Island Sound during the COVID-19 outbreak. Extension educators have developed resources for specific agricultural sectors, including fruit and vegetable farms, aquaculture, and nursery and landscape professionals. Links to important updates from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture also are available.

Our Extension educators are updating and adding resources regularly. Please visit http://bit.ly/COVID-19-Extension.

We are also ready to answer your other questions, including:

  • How do I get my water tested?
  • What is wrong with my plant?
  • Can I eat healthy on a budget?
  • How does my son/daughter join 4-H?

UConn CAHNR Extension has more than 100 years’ experience strengthening communities in Connecticut and beyond. Extension programs address the full range of issues set forth in CAHNR’s strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring a vibrant and sustainable agricultural industry and food supply
  • Enhancing health and well-being locally, nationally, and globally
  • Designing sustainable landscapes across urban-rural interfaces
  • Advancing adaptation and resilience in a changing climate.

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities.

We are here. We are ready to serve you.

 

Guidance for Equine Businesses

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Guidance for Horseback Riding Schools and Stables / Boarding Stables

Source: Connecticut Department of Agriculture

horses in early morning light at UConn
An early morning view of horses along Horse Barn Hill Road. Photo: UConn

HARTFORD, CT – In addition to implementing the Stay Home, Stay Safe protocols effective on March 23, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. through April 22, 2020; Governor Lamont’s Executive Order 7H required the Department of Economic and Community Development to provide a guidance document to determine essential businesses.

The Essential Businesses or Nonprofits designated in the guidance are not subject to the in-person restriction set forth in Executive Order 7H. Item 7 Services Including contained: “Animal shelters or animal care or management, including boarding, grooming, pet walking and pet sitting” as an essential business.

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (DoAg), working in concert with the Connecticut Farm Bureau and the Connecticut Horse Council, recognizes that this is a challenging time for all – both equine boarding facilities and horse owners alike. It is our intent to ensure the health and welfare of animals is met, while mitigating the risk to the people engaged in those tasks. It is prudent for all of us to use common sense as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Every equine facility is unique with various capacities, services, and capabilities in providing the care essential to the wellbeing and health of the horses entrusted in their care.

Stables providing full-board services that meet all of the horses’ needs may set their own policies about restricting access by owners seeking to visit or ride horses. The Department supports limitations imposed by stable owners. Specific concerns regarding care should be addressed between the horse owner and stable owner/manager.

All stables should set up a schedule of access times to ensure that there are no more than five (5) people at the barn at one time. It is imperative that the principles of social distancing, proper disinfecting, and sanitary practices are maintained. Stables are free to enact additional measures and controls as needed to ensure the safety of all.

This guidance document cannot cover every single scenario. The following information is meant to clarify what equine activities may continue and which should be discontinued at this time.

Essential Equine Care

  • Providing food, water, proper handling, health care (veterinary and farrier services), and proper housing
  • Turnout and exercise necessary to an individual horse

Not Essential Equine Care

  • Riding lessons/programs/camps
  • Club/organization meetings
  • Visits to an equine facility by anyone other than an essential equine caregiver

Recommended Practices

  • Maintain the recommended social distancing protocols that include six (6) feet of separation between individuals
  • Limit gatherings to fewer than five (5) people
  • Ensure proper hand washing
  • Limit access to and disinfect common areas regularly
  • Avoid sharing equipment and supplies between people
    • Non-porous materials (leather bridles/saddles/halters, nylon halters/lead ropes, gate latches, door handles, spray nozzle) harbor the virus longer than porous materials (cotton lead ropes, saddle pads)
    • Clean communal leather tack daily with tack cleaner
    • Disinfect gate latches, spray nozzles, cross tie snaps, pitchforks, wheelbarrows, and other frequently used items regularly or after contact with personnel
    • Stall door latches, hose ends, light switches and feed scoops should be cleaned and disinfected frequently
  • Sporting events are prohibited

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture (CT DoAg) mission is to foster a healthy economic, environmental and social climate for agriculture by developing, promoting, and regulating agricultural businesses; protecting agricultural and aquacultural resources; enforcing laws pertaining to domestic animals; and promoting an understanding among the state’s citizens of the diversity of Connecticut agriculture, its cultural heritage, and its contribution to the state’s economy. For more information, visit www.CTGrown.gov.

Equine Business Guidelines

Connecticut Department of Agriculture: Equine COVID Guidance (download this post)

Essential Equine During a Pandemic – Frequently Asked Questions

Essential versus Nonessential Equine Care During a Pandemic

Personal Preparedness Plan for Equine Owners

Agriculture Producer Survey Request

Angie Harris
Agricultural Producers: Please take this five minute survey on the impacts of COVID-19 on your business. The Governor of Connecticut issued a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order except for essential businesses on March 23, 2020. The Commissioner of Agriculture clarified, per Executive Order 7H, that agriculture businesses are considered “essential businesses”. This anonymous survey will help us to better understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the state’s agriculture industry. Results will be used to continue developing Extension resources.
 
Take the survey at: bit.ly/Ag_COVID

Maple Syrup Time in Connecticut

The sap is running and sugar houses are boiling. The maple syrup industry is alive and well when the weather cooperates, providing warm days and cold nights to signal the sugar maple trees to make sap. Maple syrup makers will have to collect 40 gallons of sap to boil down to make one gallon of syrup. March is filled with opportunities to visit sugar houses and festivals around the state.

 

For information about Connecticut Maple Syrup events follow the link below.

https://www.ctvisit.com/articles/maple-sugaring-connecticut?inf_contact_key=b3ed6f4a71d5c3886b582dba04ca631b

Some may be offering delivery or other options for products during current closures.

Food Safety and COVID-19

raised bed in foodshare garden

March 26, 2020 Update

The following information has been compiled for the general public and for those who come under essential businesses in Connecticut.

FDA resources:

  • FDA has recently stated that food supply is safe among COVID-19 and there are no current disruptions in the supply chain. Consumers should be confident in the safety of their food. To read more about coronavirus impacting the food industry please visit FDA leaders_food supply is safe.
  • If you have questions such as
      1. How do I maintain social distancing in my food production/processing facility and food retail establishment where employees typically work within close distances?
      2. A worker in my food production/processing facility/farm has tested positive for COVID-19. What do I need to do to continue operations while protecting my other employees? 

or other concerns regarding Food safety and COVID-19, please visit FDA Latest FAQs

Consumer resources:

  • As a consumer if you have questions such as
      1. Should I mist produce with a very diluted bleach solution (a teaspoon of bleach per gallon of water) and let it air dry before I eat it to avoid contracting COVID-1?
      2. Does cooking foods kill the virus that causes COVID-19? (Short answer- YES) 

Please visit Consumer_FAQs

Since, it is believed that cooking can kill viruses, it is recommended that the high-risk population (especially under current circumstances) such as immunocompromised hosts and seniors, avoid the consumption of RAW produce.

Other food safety resources:

  • For questions that food industry in other states (NY and neighboring) may have such as
      1. How long can COVID-19 remain viable on different surfaces?
      2. Can animals raised for food and animal products be source of infection with COVID-19?

Please visit FAQs_FoodIndustry

For businesses:

  • Under the Connecticut Recovery Bridge Loan program,a qualifying business or nonprofit organization can apply for a loan of up to $75,000 or three months of operating expenses (whichever is lesser). All of the information can be found at  CT_Recovery Bridge Loan Program
  • The American Farmland Trust’s Farmer Relief Fundwill award farmers with cash grants of up to $1000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the coronavirus crisis. Initially eligible applicants include any small and mid-sized direct-market producers. For complete information go to the ATF website at Farmer Relief Fund.

As always, if you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me. At UConn extension, we will try to answer your queries as soon as possible and keep you updated as we know more.

Educator: Indu Upadhyaya, DVM, MVSc, PhD,

Assistant Extension Educator, Food Safety

Support for the Aquaculture Industry

Marc Harrell
Marc Harrell, manager of Mystic Oysters, checks on brood stock at the Noank Shellfish Cooperative on Thursday. Although most of the co-op is shut down, the brood stock tanks had to be maintained. “This is our future, so we have to keep this going,” Harrell said. Judy Benson / Connecticut Sea Grant

Sales revenue for Connecticut aquaculture producers fell an average of 93 percent in February and March compared to the same period in 2019, and 70 percent of the workforce employed in shellfish, seaweed and finfish farming operations have been laid off due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are some of the findings of a preliminary summary of a survey of Connecticut’s aquaculture producers. It was conducted by Connecticut Sea Grant, UConn Extension and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture to assess impacts of the pandemic on the industry and inform assistance plans. Sea Grant, the Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are using the list of specific actions recommended by the respondents to design the most effective means of providing short- and long-term assistance, including grants and loans.

Read more.

Farmer Relief Fund from American Farmland Trust

man carrying bag of corn off of a trailer

The American Farmland Trust Farmer Relief Fund will award farmers with cash grants of up to $1000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the #coronavirus crisis.

Initially eligible applicants include any small and mid-sized direct-market producers.

The application will be simple and easy to complete. For complete information go to the AFT website.

Soil Testing Lab is Open

soil in hand

In light of agriculture (including community gardening) being designated as essential, the UConn Soil Nutrient Analysis Laboratory will remain open utilizing best practices; social distancing and disinfecting are a high priority. No one will be allowed in the lab but essential personnel. Any soil tests need to be mailed or left in the drop box outside the lab. Anyone needing a soil test should go to http://www.soiltest.uconn.edu. Tests will take longer because they are running on essential lab personnel only.

Virtual Extension Programs

man sitting at an Apple computerConnect with Extension – even during COVID-19 social distancing. We have a variety of virtual Extension programs available for you over the coming weeks:

  • Friday, April 3rd – All DayInstagram stories with Abby Beissinger, our Plant Diagnostician
  • Friday, April 3rd – 10 AM – Jen Nadeau, our Extension Equine Specialist will share horse books for adults to enjoy in a Facebook Live session
  • Monday, April 6th – 8:30 AM – Extending the Grazing Season webinar hosted by Rachel Bespuda for our program, Nutrition’s Role in Sustainable Livestock Production Practices. Pre-registration is requested.
  • Monday, April 6th – 1:3o PM – Webinar with Cary Chadwick, UConn CLEARFrom Maps to Apps: Accessible Tech for Field Scientists and Citizen Scientists Alike 
  • Wednesday, April 8th – 1:3o PM – Webinar with Emily Wilson, UConn CLEARStatewide LIDAR Elevation Points in Interactive, Color 3D! 
  • Wednesday, April 8th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, April 15th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Friday, April 17th – 10 AM – Jen Nadeau, our Extension Equine Specialist will share what you need to know about model horse shows in a Facebook Live session
  • Wednesday, April 22nd – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, April 29th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 6th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 13th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 20th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family
  • Wednesday, May 27th – Starting at 7 PM – Virtual 4-H Trivia begins – play online as an individual or family

Check back often. We are adding programs from our Master Gardener program, as well as programs on cooking and nutrition from UConn EFNEP.

Recorded Webinars and Video Lessons Available On-Demand