food

Highlights of Extension

Highlights of Extension spread of images and articlesUConn 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. All of our educators are working and serving their audiences.

Extension professionals and trained volunteers engage the state’s diverse population to make informed choices and better decisions. The partnerships enrich our lives and our environment. The Highlights of Extension annual report showcases program achievements from the past year.

Our Extension faculty and staff are effectively responding to the new challenges as well. They are utilizing technology and mobilizing resources to help families, communities, businesses, farmers, and other stakeholders. For example, our extension specialists and 4-H volunteers are helping distribute thousands of gallons of dairy products weekly to families in need throughout the state. There are many other examples of how the CAHNR family is responding to help our communities.

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

The Highlights of Extension annual report is available online at https://bit.ly/ExtensionHighlights and we invite you to learn more about CAHNR Extension at https://cahnr.uconn.edu/extension/.

Litchfield County 4-H Helps Distribute Dairy to Families in Need

Litchfield County 4-H to Help Distribute Yogurt and Sour Cream to Families in Need

Background Facts:

  • Because 30% of the fluid milk gets sold to restaurants, schools and institutions that are now closed, there is a huge surplus of fluid milk on the market now that cannot be further processed into more shelf stable products like dried milk and butter fast enough.
  • The price of milk for the farmers have dropped from $19.00 per hundred pounds to $13.00 per hundred pounds because of this.
  • Hundreds of dairy farms across the country are now forced to dump their milk because the dairy plants have such a surplus they have no room at the plants to store and process the milk because of the drop off in demand due to the closures. There are over 1,200 truckloads of milk being dumped every day across the country.
  • Some farms have no choice but to dump the milk that is in their bulk tanks that cannot be picked up by the processing plants in time, because they have to make room for the next milking of their cows.
  • Meanwhile, food pantries are in desperate need of more food to help provide nourishment for the increasing number of food insecure people, due to the pandemic and more people losing their jobs.
4-H members unloading milk from truck
Photo: Jill Davenport

The farm families who own Cabot Creamery Cooperative have generously donated over 23,000 pounds of yogurt and sour cream to the Litchfield County 4-H.  On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, pallets of sour cream and yogurt will be delivered to Litchfield High School, Danbury High School and Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Bank in New London. 4-H members from Litchfield and Fairfield Counties along with volunteers from Litchfield Community Center will be safely distributing the dairy products to local food pantries, homeless shelters and families in need throughout Litchfield County and elsewhere that same day. At the end of this effort, they will have moved 11,000 pounds of sour cream and 12,600 pounds of yogurt from the surplus inventory into the kitchens of families in need.

Litchfield County 4-H, the youth development component of UConn Extension, had already chosen their 2020 theme for the year, which is Operation Community Impact, with an emphasis on food insecurity in January. By coordinating this activity, 4-H members are able to see firsthand how important the community service efforts of 4-H is in order to can make a difference in the lives of others. They hope to secure more donations of milk and other dairy products to continue this effort over the next few weeks for as long as needed. Bill Davenport, Litchfield County 4-H UConn Extension Educator, who grew up on a dairy farm in Litchfield and owns dairy cows in his brother’s herd in Ancram, New York, came up with the idea after learning about the milk surplus and some farms having to dump their milk because of the pandemic.

He organized this effort from securing the donation to organizing the deliveries to Litchfield, Danbury and New London counties as well as assembling the volunteer drivers to the food pantries. He also credits the following individuals without whose help this effort would not be possible: Cabot Creamery and Agri-Mark Milk Cooperative for their generous donation of yogurt and sour cream; Lisa Hagemen of the Community Kitchen of Torrington, Inc., Kathy Minck of Food Rescue, and Berta Andrulis Mette of the Litchfield Community Center for helping connect with the local food pantries and assembling the list of the product orders; Superintendent Chris Leone and Litchfield High School for use of their loading dock and parking lot for distribution, and the Litchfield County UConn 4-H members, parents and volunteers who continually rise to the challenge of community service and helping others in need.

“I am excited to be able to help get some of the surplus dairy products that were packaged for sale to the schools and restaurants that are no longer open out of storage and into the hands of families who are food insecure,” says Bill Davenport. “It makes no sense that farmers are dumping milk while there are people who desperately need food. If we can help move some dairy products out of the surplus storage, the dairy plants can then have more room to accept more milk from the farmers so that we can slow down the wasteful dumping of milk at the farms, while helping to keep the dairy farmers in business. And, as always, I am grateful that our amazing 4-H youth and parents are thrilled to help connect the dots and support the distribution of displaced dairy products. I hope that our actions will increase awareness of the issue and encourage others to help do the same across Connecticut and the region so that we can help move more milk and dairy products out of the surplus and into the refrigerators of people who desperately need it.”

“Farmers work each and every day to provide, nurture and embrace the production of healthy food while taking care of our employees, communities, animals, and our environment,” says Cricket Jacquier of Laurelbrook Farm, LLC and Chairman of the Agri-Mark Cooperative. “Our farmers who own Cabot Creamery, a Certified B Corp, are proud to help provide nutritious dairy products to those in need and it is just another example of our deep commitment to our communities.”

About Cabot Creamery and Agri-Mark Cooperative

Cabot Creamery Co-operative has been in continuous operation in Vermont since 1919, and makes a full line of cheeses, Greek yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese and butter. Widely known as makers of “The World’s Best Cheddar,” Cabot is owned by the 800 dairy farm families of Agri-Mark, the Northeast’s premier dairy cooperative, with farms located throughout New England and upstate New York. For more information, visit: http://www.cabotcheese.coop

Cabot Creamery Co-operative is the world’s first cheese maker and dairy cooperative to achieve B Corporation Certification

About UConn 4-H

4-H is a national program with six million youth participating in various project areas who learn life skills, supervised by over 500,000 volunteer leaders. Litchfield County has 26 active 4-H clubs with over 400 active members in those clubs. Project areas include but are not limited to beef cattle, canine, crafts, dairy cattle, dairy goats, equine, community nutrition, food safety, food preparation skills, horticulture, mechanics, oxen, poultry, robotics, sewing, sheep, small animals, STEM, and swine.

The 4-H program is organized into four program areas including Agriculture, Civic Engagement, Healthy Living and STEM. These themes all overlap throughout the 4-H experience, with emphasis placed on creating well-rounded individuals. 4-H is the youth development program offered through the UConn Extension system. The purpose of UConn as Connecticut’s land grant university is to provide the citizens of Connecticut with educational opportunities through teaching, research and extension programming. For more information about 4-H and how to join, please contact Bill Davenport, Litchfield County Extension 4-H Educator, at william.davenport@uconn.edu or at 860-626-6854.

Looking for Open Farm Stands? Use this Map

map of open farms and farm stands in Connecticut

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, CT Northeast Organic Farming Association has partnered with the CT Dept of Agriculture to expand the list of farms, farmers’ markets, and farm stands beyond the current CT NOFA membership – free of charge and online. It is a joint effort to promote the availability of all Connecticut farmers who can provide food and other farm products in this time of crisis. Note: Read all signs and use caution when visiting farms, markets, and grocery stores and be sure to stay away from all food establishment if you feel sick. View the interactive map.

Extension in Our Communities

map of UConn Extension program in Connecticut communities using 2019 data

Programs delivered by Extension reach individuals, communities, and businesses in each of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities. UConn Extension has collaborated with our partners, communities and stakeholders for over 100 years. Find your community on our map of Extension programs (based on 2019 data) and see how active we are in your city or town. Learn more about our Extension programs.

 

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.

 

Litchfield County 4-H to Hold Food Insecurity Awareness Forum

4-H logoLitchfield County 4-H is pleased to announce plans to hold their Food Insecurity Awareness Forum on Wednesday, March 25, at 7 pm, at the Litchfield Community Center in Litchfield. The forum will feature an educational panel discussion including several local and state experts on the subject of food insecurity in Litchfield County and a call to action for community members to learn how they can help make a difference. The cost for admission is to bring a non-perishable food item to be donated to the local food bank for local families in need. This event is being co-sponsored by Litchfield County 4-H and the Litchfield Community Center.

Since community service is a large component of the 4-H experience, the 2020 Litchfield County 4-H Theme is Operation Community Impact, focusing on food insecurity in Litchfield County. “When I first brought this idea to the 4-H members, they were very surprised to learn that over 10% of Litchfield County residents are food insecure. They agreed that there is a lack of awareness of the issue in our county and decided they wanted to help do something about it”, according to Bill Davenport, Litchfield County 4-H Educator, UConn Extension. The Litchfield County 4-H officer team came up with an action plan that begins with holding this forum to increase awareness in the county and engage all thirty 4-H clubs in the county to help in some capacity in this effort with the Litchfield County 4-H Fair Association leadership team coordinating and leading the effort. They also plan to work closely with local food banks, food pantries and any other civic groups or organizations who are willing to become involved with this important issue.

The local and state experts serving on the panel include:

  • Molly Stadnicki, SNAP & Nutrition Outreach Coordinator at End Hunger Connecticut
  • Julie H. Scharnberg, Grants and Program Director, Northwest CT Community Foundation
  • Kathy Minck, Site Director for Food Rescue US NWCT
  • Deirdre DiCara, FISH (Friends in Service to Humanity, local homeless shelter and food pantry)
  • Jaime Foster, Chief Programs Officer, Connecticut Food Bank
  • Michael J. Puglisi, Ph.D. RD, UConn Assistant Extension Professor, Nutritional Sciences

Litchfield County 4-H will provide refreshments at the event and several 4-H members will be in attendance to learn from the experience, make some connections and hopefully gain some more ideas on how to help. “Our goal is to fill the room with community members who walk away with an increased awareness and a renewed energy to help us make a difference in our community with this important but often overlooked need”, according to Davenport.

4-H is a national program with six million youth participating in various project areas who learn life skills, supervised by over 500,000 volunteer leaders. Litchfield County has 26 active 4-H clubs with over 400 active members in those clubs. Project areas include but are not limited to beef cattle, canine, crafts, dairy cattle,

dairy goats, equine, community nutrition, food safety, food preparation skills, horticulture, mechanics, oxen, poultry, robotics, sewing, sheep, small animals, STEM, and swine.

The 4-H program is organized into four program areas including Agriculture, Civic Engagement, Healthy Living and STEM. These themes all overlap throughout the 4-H experience, with emphasis placed on creating well-rounded individuals. 4-H is the youth development program offered through the UConn Extension system. The purpose of UConn as Connecticut’s land grant university is to provide the citizens of Connecticut with educational opportunities through teaching, research and extension programming. For more information about 4-H and how to join, please contact Bill Davenport, Litchfield County Extension 4-H Educator, at william.davenport@uconn.edu or at 860-626-6854.

Vegetable Production Certificate Course

vegetable production flyervegetable production flyer
We’re offering a Vegetable Production Certificate Course, beginning on March 12th. It’s a hybrid format, online and in-person for new and beginning farmers. This year only, we have a special introductory fee of $100 or $150 depending on the course option you choose.

This vegetable production course is designed to benefit beginner vegetable producers who have 0-3 years of vegetable growing experience or no formal training in agriculture. The participants will learn answers to the basic questions about farm business planning, planning and preparing for vegetable farm, warm and cool-season vegetable production techniques, season extension, identification of biotic and abiotic issues, and marketing.

Please contact the course coordinator, Shuresh Ghimire (Shuresh.Ghimire@uconn.edu, 860-870-6933) with any questions about this course.

Industrywide Food Safety Initiative Focuses on Ice Cream

Industrywide Food Safety Initiative Focuses on Small/Artisanal Ice Cream Companies

making ice cream at UConn, purple gloves hold container of ice cream
Chemical engineering majors make a test batch of reduced sugar ice cream at the UConn Creamery on April 8, 2015. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy announced that food safety resources for small and artisanal ice cream manufacturers, including an online class and technical support, are now available. Dennis D’Amico, one of our Extension educators was on the team that developed these initiatives.

These initiatives, which are similar to tools created in 2017 for the artisan/farmstead cheese community, are designed to help companies mitigate their food safety risks.

This initiative was led by the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, an organization founded by dairy farmers in 2008 to convene the entire industry on common goals and opportunities. Innovation Center experts formed the Artisan Ice Cream Food Safety Advisory Team that includes the National Ice Cream Retailers Association, International Dairy Foods Association, academics, company owners and food safety experts from across the dairy industry.

“We created these tools with input from the owners of small ice cream companies and learned what can most effectively work for them,” said Tim Stubbs, Vice President of Product Research and Food Safety for the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy. “As a result, we think these resources have been designed in a way that these companies can help assure consumer confidence in their products.”

The resources include an online course offered through North Carolina State University titledFood Safety Basics for Artisan Ice Cream Makers.” The course includes 10 interactive modules on the importance of food safety, identifying hazards, preventive controls, design, plant practices, sanitation and environmental monitoring. The course is available free through July 31, 2020 (discount code INTRO-FREE). Visit https://foodsafety.ncsu.edu/food-safety-basics-for-ice-cream-makers or www.usdairy.com/artisan for information.

A new website — www.safeicecream.org – is hosted by IDFA and offers self-study resources, guides, templates and tools designed to quickly help manufacturers.

Also available are workshops that provide direct coaching and technical support for small businesses as they write their food safety plans.

Information on the workshops or one-on-one food safety support is available by calling (607) 255-3459 or emailing dairyfoodsafetycoach@cornell.edu. More information can be found at www.usdairy.com/artisan

Where can we get healthy food? #AskUConnExtension

Where can we get healthy food? Dr. German Cutz, one of our Extension educators, discusses urban agriculture as one option as we use innovative technology and new methods to grow food for our families and communities.

vegetables with two hands picking some up and question: Where can we get healthy food?

#AskUConnExtension

Video: Mike Zaritheny