Gardens

UConn Extension is Growing Food and Health with the Mashantucket Tribe

“The mission statement of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation (MPTN) states they will ‘…establish a social, cultural and economic foundation that can never be undermined or destroyed…,’” says Tribal Councilor Daniel Menihan, Jr. MPTN was facing challenges growing their fruits and vegetables at a scale to meet the tribe’s needs on their land in Ledyard, and some members were struggling with diabetes.

UConn has enjoyed a long history of engagement with members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal community. Many members have graduated from UConn and served on the UConn Foundation Board, among others. Despite the fact that there is an Extension office only 10 miles from the reservation, MPTN has rarely participated in any educational outreach or training offered by UConn Extension.

UConn Extension received the four-year Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP) grant from USDA-NIFA with the goal of having the tribe share their ideas for growing food and health, and help them learn about the Extension resources that are available. As a result of the grant, the relationship between MPTN and UConn is strengthening, and there is growth in agricultural production, food security, and health for the tribal people.

heirloom tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes grown by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. Photo: Noah Cudd

“MPTN is still learning, but they are now able to grow their own food, in what looks like a commercial setting,” states Shuresh Ghimire, PhD, Vegetable Crops Extension educator and principal investigator on the grant. “They have high tunnels, a rototiller, a plastic mulch layer, and cold storage, which are common tools for a commercial farm.”

Extension provides expertise through one-on-one consultation, and classroom and hands-on training on-site in a collaborative setting. Educational outreach addresses the following critical areas identified by the MPTN Council:

  1. Improve food security
  2. Improve economic viability
  3. Improve youth engagement and communications
  4. Improve nutrition and diabetes awareness through collaborative education

An Extension program involving several specialists in fruit and vegetable production, farm business management, marketing, 4-H youth development, health and nutrition, communications, evaluation and assessment is working with the MPTN on their goals. Tribal members are participating in other Extension programs, beyond the scope of the grant. A 4-H club is being established at MPTN to increase opportunities for youth.

“Once this grant came, we started working with UConn Extension Educators. There has been a substantial gain in the knowledge and skills regarding growing food, writing a business plan, nutrition, and health,” says Jeremy Whipple, a MPTN member.

Growing with MPTN

Extension provides education for MPTN in state-of-the-art sustainable vegetable and fruit production techniques, and through

people in the greenhouse at the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
UConn Extension educators work with members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation in a high tunnel. Photo: Shuresh Ghimire

collaboration with MPTN, is melded with traditional and historical tribal farming methods. This provides MPTN with a means to continue the richness of their history while moving into modern sustainable farming economically.

Tribal youth are included in all aspects of the agricultural venture with the tribe’s expectation that several youth will develop major roles in the business venture. Two tribal youth are being paid by the grant to work in vegetable production at MPTN.

“Learning how to grow tomatoes, including pest management, is one of the many things I enjoy working with on this grant” Ernest Pompey, one of the tribal youths working on this grant says. “I am excited to share what I learned about growing and eating healthy food to other youth in my community.”

“The tribe also established a community garden where they bring other youth from the community to teach them about growing. The knowledge is expanding within their own community, and they are teaching each other now,” Shuresh says.

making the three sisters recipe with members of the Mashantucket tribe
Extension educators make the Three Sisters recipe with members of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation.

UConn Extension’s nutrition team is working with the tribal community health providers to deliver educational programming in healthy eating and diabetes prevention using classroom education, and hands-on learning in the selection and preparing of healthy food, and exercise through gardening. The goal is to reduce the risk and incidence of diabetes in the tribal community.

“The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) utilizes a hands-on approach to nutrition education, combining nutrition knowledge with enhancement of skills to apply this knowledge to prepare healthy foods that are convenient, affordable and culturally appropriate,” says Mike Puglisi PhD, RD, state EFNEP director. “Erica Benvenuti, New London County nutrition educator, taught children in the MPTN High 5 Program the importance of food safety and increasing vegetable intake, and enhanced learning through getting the children involved in preparation of a traditional recipe prepared by the MPTN, the Three Sisters Rice recipe.”

The grant is starting its third year, and another Extension educator is working with tribal youth and adults in developing a business plan for the agricultural venture to increase their success rate. Youth and adults are also learning about their agricultural history and how it can successfully be integrated into today’s modern sustainable agriculture by combining classes with in-field learning experience.

“Ultimately, after the grant ends, MPTN’s farm will operate as a commercial vegetable farm would in terms of production and reaching out to Extension when they do need help. They will be independent, and continue growing their operation to support the goals of the tribal nation,” Shuresh states.

Article by Stacey Stearns and Shuresh Ghimire

UConn Offers Master Composter Program and Worm Day

Enroll Now in the UConn 2019 Master Composter Program

Almost 25% of household waste can be recycled through composting. The purpose of the UConn Master Composter program is to educate and train residents about the basics of small-scale composting and in exchange for the training, volunteers will pass on their knowledge to others through outreach activitiessuch as talks, demonstrations, tabling at events, providing promotional activities, working with schools or community gardens etc. Master Composter classes will be held at the New London County Extension Center in Norwich. There will be four weeknight lectures (October 15, 17, 22 & 24), Worm Day (Oct 19) and two Saturday field trips with only one being mandatory. The cost of the program is $100. The Master Composter brochure with registration information is available at www.ladybug.uconn.edu or www.soiltest.uconn.edu or call (860) 486-4274 for more information.

 

worm in the soilWORM DAY

Saturday, October 19, 2019 at the Middlesex County Extension Center from 10 am to 2 pm.

Want to learn more about invasive earthworms in Connecticut? Ever thought about making a worm bin to recycle kitchen scraps into rich vermicompost? Join us for Worm Day! It is free and open to the public. Following presentations on beneficial and invasive earthworms, and how to make and care for a worm bin, folks are invited to make their own worm bins. Attendees supply the materials and we will supply the worms. A $5 donation is suggested to cover the cost of the worms. Go to www.ladybug.uconn.edu orwww.soiltest.uconn.edu for more information. Please RSVP to Dawn.Pettinelli@uconn.edu as we need to know how many worms to bring! Limited to 40 participants.

Ask UConn Extension

food, health and sustainability venn diagram

Do you have food, health, or environmental sustainability questions?

Ask UConn Extension.

We have specialists located throughout the state to answer your questions and connect you with the power of UConn research.

Fill out this form with your question: http://bit.ly/AskUConnExtension

UConn Native Plants and Pollinators Conference

native plants and pollinators conference bannerSTUDENT UNION BALLROOM (ROOM 330) 2100 Hillside Road, Storrs, CT 06269 October 3, 2019

Join us for the second biannual UConn Native Plants & Pollinators Conference! Come for an exciting day of presentations featuring current science-based research and information on supporting pollinators in managed landscapes. This program is designed for growers and other green industry professionals, landscape service providers, landscape architects and designers, town commissions, municipalities, schools, and homeowners. Learn how to utilize native plants to provide the greatest value for pollinators throughout the year!

Download the agenda: NPPC2 Agenda (1)

Register online at s.uconn.edu/pollinators2019.

Register online or visit the UConn IPM website (www.ipm.uconn.edu)

Early registration $50.00, by Friday August 30, 2019 $60.00 after August 30, 2019

Students $25.00 with valid school ID

The registration fee includes: Admission to sessions Lunch & Parking

Parking is available in the North Parking Garage (103 North Eagleville Road) and South Parking Garage (2366 Jim Calhoun Way). Please bring your parking garage ticket with you to check-in for validation. See Link to UConn Storrs Campus map.

Questions about registration? Contact: Alyssa Siegel-Miles, alyssa.siegel-miles@uconn.edu or call at 860-885-2821.

Pesticide Recertification credits: PA, 1A, 3A, 3B, 3D, 6, 10/5

UConn is an equal opportunity employer and program provider.

Apply to Become a UConn Extension Master Gardener

APPLY TO BECOME A UCONN EXTENSION MASTER GARDENER –

APPLICATION DEADLINE IS OCTOBER 18.

Master Gardener logoGarden harvests are underway, and it’s a great time to plan ahead for next year. Apply now for the 2020 UConn Extension Master Gardener Program. Classes will be held in Vernon, New Haven, Norwich, Torrington and Stamford. The deadline for applications is Friday, October 18, 2019.

UConn Extension Master Gardeners have an interest in plants, gardening, people and the environment. Specifically, they are willing to share their knowledge, passion and enthusiasm with their communities, providing research-based information to homeowners, students, gardening communities and others. They receive horticultural training from UConn, and then share that knowledge with the public through community volunteering and educational outreach efforts. UConn Master Gardeners help with community and museum gardens, school gardens, backyard projects, houseplant questions and more.

“The Master Gardener Program opened my eyes to the wonderful world of horticulture, gardening, and the fragile ecosystem

Photo: Molly Deegan

we share with animals and insects,” says Pat Sabosik of Hamden, who completed the program in 2017.

The program is presented in a hybrid class format with three to four hours of online work before each of the 16 weekly classes, followed by a half-day classroom session. Classes run from 9 AM to 1 PM. New this year is a weekend session which will be held in Vernon on Saturdays.

“The combination of in-depth classroom learning with subject matter experts, extensive reading materials, and hands-on projects and outreach experiences is a good balance of learning experiences”, says Anne Farnum who also took the class in 2017.

Classes begin the week of January 6, 2020. Subject matter includes basic botany, plant pathology, soils, entomology and lectures on other aspects of gardening, plant groups, and pest management. Lectures and reading are combined with hands-on classroom experience. After the classroom portion, students complete 60 hours of outreach experience during the summer.

The program fee is $450.00, and includes all needed course materials. Partial scholarships may be available, based on demonstrated financial need.

For more information, call the UConn Extension Master Gardener office at 860-409-9053 or visit the UConn Extension Master Gardener website at: www.mastergardener.uconn.edu , where both the on-line and paper application can be found.

Monarch Butterfly Series

Have you seen a Monarch caterpillar or butterfly recently? They enjoy eating milkweed, so look out for them on those plants. Kara Bonsack of UConn Extension caught this series from caterpillar to butterfly at our Extension office in Haddam, in case you don’t see one in person.

10 Tips for the August Gardener

Ten Tips for the August Gardener

flowersClick on highlighted links for additional information.

  • Fertilize perennials with a 5-10-5 or 5-10-10 product to encourage continued blooming.
  • Scout for C-shaped notches on the edges of the leaves of your perennials such as dahlias, roses, basil or coleus that are caused by Asiatic beetle feeding.
  • Houseplants can dry out quicker in the heat and extra sunlight of summer. Check them frequently to evaluate their moisture needs.
  • Keep an eye out for insect, slug, and snail damage throughout the garden. Use the controls in our fact sheet Snails and Slugs.
  • Remove old plants that have stopped producing to eliminate a shelter for insects and disease organisms. Replant sites with chard, quick maturing beans or cucumbers, leafy greens etc.
  • Even though tomatoes continue to ripen after picking, fruits develop greatest flavor when allowed to ripen on plants. The exception is cherry tomatoes since many varieties are prone to splitting. Pick any almost ripe ones before a heavy rain.
  • Pick up, bag, and trash (do not compost) any dropped apples that show signs of apple maggot.
  • Think about what fruits trees you might like to add to your yard this fall. Some suggestions for native plants may be found at Trees and Shrubs: Suggested Native Species for Pollinators.
  • Reseeding the lawn in late August gives the new grass two growing periods (fall and spring) before the heat of summer. Be sure to keep the seed moist until germination.
  • Fruiting plants such as winterberry, holly, and firethorn need regular watering during dry spells to ensure that berries mature and don’t drop off.

For more information visit the UConn Home and Garden Education Center or email ladybug@uconn.edu.

Christmas in July at CT Greenhouses

It is Christmas in July for the greenhouse producers who grow poinsettias. In order to have plants that are blooming for December sales, greenhouses start the process early. Poinsettias require months in the greenhouse before they are ready to be purchased and taken home.

Leanne Pundt, one of our Extension educators was scouting the plants for whitefly immatures at one the Connecticut growers last week and took these photos.

poinsettias as seedlings
Poinsettias are purchased as seedlings by the greenhouses. Photo: Leanne Pundt
poinsettia plants in a water tunnel
The planting line in the watering tunnel. Photo: Leanne Pundt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

poinsettias on cart to be transported into the greenhouse
Potted plants are placed on carts to be transported into the greenhouse. Photo: Leanne Pundt
poinsettias growing in the greenhouse
Poinsettias growing in the greenhouse. Photo: Leanne Pundt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

poinsettia plants in the greenhouse
Poinsettia plants in the greenhouse. Photo: Leanne Pundt

 

New Rain Garden at Windham Extension Center

rain garden appCourtesy of the Eastern Connecticut Conservation District, the Master Gardeners of  Windham county installed a small rain garden at the Windham Extension office in June. We discussed and referenced the printed and online reference resources available from UConn.
If you would like a refresher on rain gardens- info can be found here https://nemo.uconn.edu/raingardens/. Sizing info for rain gardens is here https://nemo.uconn.edu/raingardens/sizemap.htm You can click on the map and create an area….well you can check out the website and read the instructions
And don’t forget you can also download the Rain Garden app from UConn: https://nemo.uconn.edu/tools/app/raingarden.htm
As part of the Eastern Connecticut Conservation Districts plan to install 100 rain gardens in Northeastern Connecticut, we are very lucky to be awarded one of these. See the article from the Hartford Courant- https://www.courant.com/community/pomfret/hc-pk-pomfret-1004-rain-gardens-and-barrels-20181002-story.html

10 Tips for the July Gardener

Ten Tips for the July Gardener

Click on highlighted links for additional information.

  • Container and hanging plants may need to be watered in the morning and again later in the day if hot and windy conditions prevail. Check plants again at day’s end to see if the soil is dry.
  • Hummingbirds are attracted to red salvia, coral bells and bee balm.
  • Check out the UConn Extension Bug Week for events, activities, and programs.
  • Tomato hornworms are large green caterpillars that feed on the leaves of tomatoes and related plants. Hand-pick or control with Bacillus thuringiensis. Do not remove caterpillars that are covered in white pupae as they have been parasitized by beneficial wasps.
  • Check brassicas for cabbageworm, diamond-back moth caterpillars, cross-striped caterpillars, and cabbage loopers. Use row covers or Bacillus thuringiensis to control them.
  • Pick up, bag, and trash (do not compost) any dropped apples that show signs of apple maggot.
  • Check roses, Mugo pine, hibiscus, and dogwood for sawfly larvae. Insecticidal soap, Horticultural oil, and pyrethrins are among the low-toxicity insecticides recommended for control.
  • Apply grub control no later than July 15th so that it is systemically in place in grass roots when the grubs hatch in early August.
  • Check family members and pets for ticks after being outside, especially when in tall grass or wooded areas.
  • Leaky garden hoses and fittings can waste water. Check hoses while they are under full pressure and make repairs

Article by UConn Home & Garden Education Center