Education

Pre-Register for Vegetable and Small Fruit Growers’ Conference

vegetable conference banner photo

SOUTH WINDSOR, CT – UConn Extension’s 2019 Vegetable & Small Fruit Growers’ Conference will be taking place on Monday, January 7th, 2019. The conference will be held at Maneeley’s Conference Center on 65 Rye Street in South Windsor.

The day will include 9 educational sessions, an extensive trade show with over 30 exhibitors, and plenty of time for networking. Session topics range from Farm Labor to High Tunnel Production including Growing Brambles, Growing Strawberries and Tomato Nutrient Management. Other highlights include a Cut Flower Production session that will give us a taste of the following full day workshop on January 8thin East Windsor. A farmer panel that will discuss Marketing, specifically POS (point of sale) Systems will round out the event. Three pesticide re-certification credits will be available for licensed applicators.

This event is organized by UConn Extension, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and the Connecticut Vegetable & Berry Growers’ Alliance. The steering committee uses evaluations from previous years to produce a fruitful program, gathering the best speakers from within our region and across the country to fulfill the requests and meet the needs of Connecticut growers.

This day will not only be great for learning, but also for networking with other growers, Extension educators and industry representatives. We hope you take the time to gather plenty of ideas and knowledge to take home with you to practice on your own farms and improve your farm businesses.

Pre-registration to attend the conference is $40. The pre-registration includes the trade show, continental breakfast, coffee, and lunch. The pre-registration fee for students (high school or college) is $18 (must show valid ID). Pre-registration must be received by January 2nd, 2019). After the deadline and at the door is $60 per person. The registration form, additional information and other upcoming events can be found at http://ipm.uconn.edu/under events.

This institution is an affirmative action/ equal employment opportunity employer and program provider. Contact us 3 weeks in advance for special accommodations.

Preventing Early Childhood Obesity

UConn Allied Health Sciences community outreach program
Lindsey Fenn working with a group of children and their parents.

Preventing obesity in early childhood is a critical issue being addressed by a multi-disciplinary team from UConn. It’s one of three complementary projects led by faculty in Allied Health Sciences, and is funded by a grant from the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut. The project focuses on preventing obesity in early childhood by offering parents of economic disadvantage simple and feasible feeding practices to develop healthier food preferences for their children. Valerie Duffy, PhD, RD, and Jennifer Harris, PhD, MBA from Allied Health Sciences and the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity are the co-PIs.

Lindsay Fenn, RD, is a masters’ student in Health Promotion Sciences in Allied Health Sciences, and has conducted nutrition outreach education with family resources centers in East Hartford. Fenn conducts outreach education for three different schools, although the majority of her time is spent with Early Childhood Learning Center at Hockanum School. There are multiple partners in East Hartford that the team works with to reach audiences and broaden their impact. These include the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) centers, the Hunger Action Team, and Foodshare mobile sites.

“I ran workshops for parents on picky eating and eating healthy in general, mainly with preschool ages,” says Fenn. Each workshop is approximately one hour. She begins by working with the parents, while the children have supervised play time. Next, there is a workshop for the kids, and parents are encouraged to be involved in this segment, cooking with their kids.

UConn student Lindsey Fenn works in the community for her internship with the UConn Allied Health Sciences program.
Lindsey Fenn (far right) with a mother and child at a community outreach program.

“Programs for kids are interactive, for example, we had them make banana snowmen with pretzels for the arms and carrots for the nose. We get the kids involved so they will eat healthy foods and try new things,” Fenn adds.

Part of the project at Hockanum included a Farm to School program where they built a garden, and took the classrooms outside, planted seeds, and then volunteers weeded the gardens over the summer. Lindsay attends the community dinners at a local church, and covered nutrition topics with the participants at the dinner. She is currently working with the Mayberry Elementary School and focusing on healthy eating around the holidays.

The grant through the Child Health and Development Institute began last year, and is building off of the relationships Fenn and the Allied Health Sciences team have built in East Hartford. “Our research question is to determine if parents are following the guidelines for feeding children ages 12-36 months,” Fenn says. “We also want to determine what the knowledge gaps are for these parents.”

The team at Allied Health Sciences are using a survey and other research to fill the knowledge gaps for parents of young children. The survey was created with input from multiple stakeholders. Staff at the family resource centers were involved in developing the survey to make sure it was a good fit for the populations served. For example, the survey was administered online with pictures to reinforce concepts. Fenn conducted the survey at the East Hartford WIC program, a daycare center, and the library, and had 134 parents participate.

“Our goal is to communicate consistently with parents in East Hartford,” Harris states. “We want to help them identify one or two behaviors that could be addressed with better communication, and that they are willing to change. These may be reducing sugary drinks, replacing snacks with healthier ones, practicing responsive eating, or adding variety to fruits and vegetables.”

The team focuses on two or three changes that a parent can make in their child’s nutrition. Follow up emails with participants build off of the previous work of the messaging campaign. Dr. Molly Waring is another Allied Health team member with expertise in social media as a communication tool. Social media platforms can be used for peer support after the initial communication from the Allied Health Sciences team members.

Initial analysis shows the results are supported by previous research. There is a lack of vegetable diversity and variety in children’s diets. Numerous parents cited that they are serving their children sugar sweetened beverages.

The next phase of the team’s research is convening focus groups at WIC and Hockanum in January and February that will talk about the main areas and gaps in knowledge that the research identified. Results are being shared with stakeholders so that they can also tailor their nutrition education messages to help parents decrease sugar-sweetened beverages and increase vegetable variety.

“I’ve gotten to know the different families, and received positive feedback about the workshops,” Fenn concludes. “It’s rewarding to interact with people, and see parents again after you’ve worked with them. They appreciate our work and say that we’ve helped them make positive changes.”

The grant is only for the project in East Hartford, however Duffy and Harris are developing a proof of concept through this project so that East Hartford can be a pilot for other communities to use communication in preventing early childhood obesity.

By Stacey Stearns

Holiday Food Shopping on a Budget

grocery store shopping cart filled with food
Photo: Flickr, Phil Gold

It is that crazy, stressful expensive time of year.  But planning for that holiday meal shouldn’t be on that list.  Here are a few steps to help ease the process and cost:

  1. Clean out the refrigerator and freezer of unneeded or wanted items. This will make room for items for the big meal.  Also it will let you know which items you already have and don’t need to purchase.
  2. Go through the pantry to double check items you may need for baking (flour, sugar, baking soda or powder) or additions to the main meal.
  3. Look through the grocery store flyers either in the paper on online. This will help to plan what you will make for your meal. For example turkey is at its lowest price around Thanksgiving, beef and pork roasts in December, and ham around Easter. The store flyer may have a coupon for more discounts.
  4. Have a good idea how much money you have budgeted for this meal, some adjustments can be made by the number of people attending. If you can’t swing a big meal keep it small and invite others over for dessert. Another way to reduce cost is to have guests bring side dishes and desserts. It really takes the financial burden off the host and everyone feels more involved in the meal.
  5. Keep your menu seasonal! Vegetables and fruits that are in the holiday’s season are the best choice to stay on budget.
  6. Finally stick to your shopping list and your plan. If you have questions about how much meat you will need for each guest talk to the store butcher, he/she will help you stay on budget.

For more resources, including recipes, visit https://efnep.uconn.edu.

By Erica Benvenuti

Lifelong Learning with CLIR Begins Again in January

CLIR speakerThe Center for Learning in Retirement, otherwise known as CLIR, is one of the many programs offered through the University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension, part of the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources. CLIR is a lifelong learning program that provides meaningful and serious intellectual activities for adults of retirement age. Individuals from all walks of life are welcome and there is no educational requirement, just a desire for learning.

Each CLIR class is approximately 1.5 hours long and held in Vernon Cottage on the UConn Depot campus. CLIR covers a wide range of topics including agriculture, technology, psychology, culture, and so much more. It is not too late to register for one of the many classes available during the spring semester that starts in January. The fee for each semester is $20 and there is no limit on the number of classes you can attend. Interested participants are also welcome to attend two free classes before deciding to join CLIR.

Michael Adams, a professor from Eastern Connecticut State University, will be teaching a course January 3rd on close up and macrophotography. On January 15th the President and Secretary of Windham County National Alliance of Mental Illness will be teaching a class on Mental Health Awareness. Cameron Faustman, the Interim Dean of the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, will be teaching a class on Food Insecurity on March 13th.

Interested in learning more and seeing what other classes CLIR has to offer? Visit clir.uconn.edu, email marilyn.diaz@uconn.edu to get on our email list, or call us at (860)570-9012. We look forward to seeing you soon!

 

We Want You to Volunteer with UConn 4-H

Garret helping a younger 4-H member
Garret works with a younger 4-H member at the Middlesex-New Haven 4-H Fair. Photo: Kara Bonsack

Do you enjoy working with children? Want to share your time and talents with young people in the community? Like to have fun, learn new skills and make a difference? Then being a 4-H volunteer is for you!

4-H volunteers play a significant role in helping youth to reach their potential. As a volunteer, you will help youth in your group learn leadership, citizenship and life skills through projects and activities. If you have a hobby or interest you would like to share with young people such as photography, leadership, animals, plants, fishing, drama, community service, computers and technology, woodworking, fashion design, arts and crafts, rocketry and more, consider becoming a 4-H volunteer.

Start volunteering today by going to https://bit.ly/2Oj4TkU

Urban Agriculture Graduation

2018 Urban Agriculture graduates from the UConn Extension program
Standing (left-right): Dr. German Cutz, Ecuadorian Consulate Representative, Franzel Ansah, Farron Harvey, Dr. Michael O’Neil (Associate Dean UConn College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources), Angela Cusicanqui, Christopher Cane, Chef Mona Jackson (Cook and Grow), Diana Chacon, Olga Peralta, Cristina Sandolo (Executive Director of Green Village Initiate), Cornelia Olsen, Zonia Menendez, Marcial Menendez. Front (left-right): Richard Brana, Jane Jacobus, Renita Crawford, Fidelina Linares, I Messiah

UConn Extension in collaboration with Green Village Initiative offered the Urban Agriculture Program in Bridgeport, Connecticut from November 2017 to November 2018. A new group of urban farmers graduated on December 7, 2018. The UConn Extension urban agriculture program consists of three components: classroom instruction, hands-on vegetable production, and entrepreneurship. To complete the program students need to pass five modules including botany, soils, entomology, vegetable production, and Integrated Pest Management, with 70% or higher grade. Congratulations to the new Urban Farmers!!!

 

The urban agriculture program will be offered as follows:

Bridgeport: Starts on January 10, 2019

Bethel: Starts on January 8, 2019.

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La Extensión de la Universidad de Connecticut en colaboración con Green Village Initiative ofrecieron el programa de Agricultura Urbana en Bridgeport, Connecticut de Noviembre 2017 a Noviembre 2018. Un nuevo grupo de agricultores urbanos se graduaron el 7 de Diciembre, 2018. El programa de agricultura urbana de la Extensión de UConn consiste de tres componentes: clases teóricas, producción de vegetales, y negocios. Para completar el programa los estudiantes necesitan pasar cada modulo, que incluye botánica, suelos, entomología, producción de vegetales, y Manejo Integrado de Plagas con 70 puntos o más. Felicitaciones a los nuevos Agricultores Urbanos!!!

 

El programa de Agricultura Urbana se ofrece como sigue:

Bridgeport: Inicia el 10 de Enero, 2019

Bethel: Inicia el 8 de Enero, 2019

National Hand Washing Week

As part of Marc Cournoyer’s involvement with the Healthy Homes Partnership, he created a poster contest to recognize national hand washing awareness week which runs from Dec. 2-8.  Some of the kids from the Windham Heights 4-H club created posters to educate the public on the importance of hand washing. Marc is a UConn Extension 4-H educator.

Livestock BCS Video Series

We have a new video series on Body Condition Scoring (BCS) for livestock. Our Tri-State SARE project produced videos for beef cattle, swine, sheep, and goats. You can view the entire series at: http://s.uconn.edu/bcs

The Tri-State SARE project, Nutrition’s Role in Sustainable Livestock Production, focuses on animal nutrition as it relates to health and well-being of animals, pasture management and nutrient management decisions/plans. This project is designed to increase engagement of Cooperative Extension Personnel in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Departments of Agriculture, other state and local agencies, USDA agencies and NGOs, and farmers in the production, processing and marketing of natural locally grown meats and other products for consumers.

This project is designed to increase engagement of Cooperative Extension Personnel in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, Departments of Agriculture, other state and local agencies, USDA agencies and NGOs, and farmers in the production, processing and marketing of natural locally grown meats and other products for consumers.

Bedding Plant Program for Greenhouse Growers Offered

greenhouse flowers
Photo: Leanne Pundt

UConn Extension offers Bedding Plant Program for Greenhouse Growers

Get the latest information on insect and disease management, proper watering techniques and mixing pesticide formulations and network with fellow growersThis educational program will feature the following topics of interest to those who produce spring ornamental crops in the greenhouse:

  • Watering: Air and Water Balance in the Root-Zone

Rosa Raudales, Greenhouse Extension Specialist, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT

  • Root Rots, Mildews, and Blights

Dr. Yonghao Li, CT Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, CT

  • Update on Managing Insects and Mites

Leanne Pundt, Extension Educator, UConn Extension, Torrington, CT

  • Pesticide Formulations

Candace Bartholomew, Pesticide Safety Educator, UConn Extension

 

For your convenience, this program will be offered in two separate locations.

  • January 29th, this program will be offered from 9:30 to 2:30 at the Litchfield County Extension Center at 843 University Drive in Torrington, CT.
  • February 14th, this program will be offered from 9:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Tolland County Extension Office at 24 Hyde Avenue in Vernon, CT.

 

Four Pesticide recertification credits available

Handouts, lunch and beverages will be included in your registration fee of $25.00.

Please make checks payable to the University of Connecticut and send to Litchfield County Extension Center, 843 University Drive, Torrington, CT 06790.  No credit card payments accepted.

For more information, contact Leanne Pundt, at 860.626.6855 or email: leanne.pundt@uconn.edu Click here to view program brochure and registration form.

The University of Connecticut is an equal opportunity program provider and employer.

CT’s First Stormwater Utility

Earlier this summer, New London became the first municipality in Connecticut to establish a stormwater utility which goes into effect January 1, 2019.  This means they will begin charging all property owners a fee for their contribution to the city’s stormwater runoff.  Previously, New London relied on property taxes to fund maintenance of their stormwater infrastructure which includes all the storm drains and underground pipes that carry runoff from buildings, streets, and parking lots into nearby waterbodies.  This model has left much of the city’s stormwater management efforts significantly underfunded.  By charging stormwater fees, New London, a small city with many tax-exempt properties, is securing a dedicated funding source to pay for maintaining their stormwater infrastructure and complying with other management efforts, like public outreach, removing illegal discharges from the stormwater system and sampling stormwater discharge for pollutants.

New London may be the only stormwater utility in Connecticut but not in New England. According to a 2016 survey of U.S. stormwater utilities by Western Kentucky University, 3 New England states were home to established stormwater utilities: Maine (5), Vermont (3), and Massachusetts (7).  But outside our region, these utilities have become much more common.  Overall, the U.S. had nearly 1,600 stormwater utilities led by Florida, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin each having more than 100 a piece.  Clearly, there are many states (including some with reputations of having less stringent regulatory environments than CT) that have already embraced stormwater utilities as a practical way to pay for strong municipal stormwater management programs.

stormwater utilities map
Number of Stormwater Utilities in every state. From Western Kentucky University Stormwater Utility Survey 2016.

By Amanda Ryan