We all can do our part for the planet

SNAP-Ed Programming in Fairfield County

By Rachel Hathaway (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Rachel Hathaway (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Nutrition outreach in January at the Danbury New Hope Church mobile food pantry included an on-site food demonstration with Banana Oatmeal, recipes and information were also distributed to 235 participants while waiting for their number to be called. Nutrition outreach at the Walnut Hill Church mobile food pantry in Bethel was on January 24th and reached 140 families.

Extension educator Heather Peracchio and intern Marianna Orrico, a Health Promotion and Exercise Science student from Western Connecticut State University, attended this month’s Danbury Food Collaborative meeting hosted at United Way on January 17th. Food pantries in attendance were given 200 copies of seasonally appropriate recipes to distribute to clients this month.

Heather also attended the Danbury Coalition for Healthy Kids meeting on January 24th. Danbury area agencies met to plan out a strategy for reducing childhood obesity in the greater Danbury area. Heather shared EFNEP and SNAP-Ed resources with community partners in attendance.

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SNAP-Ed Programming in Fairfield County

By Rachel Hathaway (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Rachel Hathaway (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Nutrition outreach in January at the Danbury New Hope Church mobile food pantry included an on-site food demonstration with Banana Oatmeal, recipes and information were also distributed to 235 participants while waiting for their number to be called. Nutrition outreach at the Walnut Hill Church mobile food pantry in Bethel was on January 24th and reached 140 families.

Extension educator Heather Peracchio and intern Marianna Orrico, a Health Promotion and Exercise Science student from Western Connecticut State University, attended this month’s Danbury Food Collaborative meeting hosted at United Way on January 17th. Food pantries in attendance were given 200 copies of seasonally appropriate recipes to distribute to clients this month.

Heather also attended the Danbury Coalition for Healthy Kids meeting on January 24th. Danbury area agencies met to plan out a strategy for reducing childhood obesity in the greater Danbury area. Heather shared EFNEP and SNAP-Ed resources with community partners in attendance.

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Join Us at the CT Flower & Garden Show

garden show image

FREE Soil Testing and Gardening Advice at the Connecticut Flower and Garden Show, February 22 – 25, 2018 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. The University of Connecticut Soil Testing Laboratory will offer free soil pH testing each day of the show. Bring in ½ cup of soil and we will test it and let you know how much, if any, limestone you need to add for optimal plant growth. Master Gardeners and staff horticulturists from the UConn Home & Garden Education Center will be on hand to answer all of your gardening questions. Free gardening handouts will help you make the most of your lawn and gardens this year!

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Lifelong Learning in March

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CLIR, a lifelong learning program offered in collaboration with UConn Extension, will hold the following classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in March, all in Vernon Cottage on UConn’s Depot Campus, from 1:15 to 2:45, except for the Memoir Club.

Memoir Club                 Thursdays     10:15 – 11:45

Mar 1 UConn’s Osiris Quartet
Mar 7 What are Stem Cells and Why Should We Care?  
Mar 14 Slavery in America and the Underground Railroad  
Mar 15 Have the Irish Lost Their Sense of Humor?  
Mar 20 Why Europe Went to War in 1914?  
Mar 21 A Two Part Class on the Food Waste Epidemic

Part I: Implications of Food Safety Quality as they Impact Food Waste

 
Mar 27 A Poetry Discussion  
Mar 28 Part 2: Environmental Impacts of Food Waste and the Global/National Perspective

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My 4-H Story

MY 4-H STORY

By Mia Herrera

Mia Herrera and goat at show in KentuckyIt is safe to say that 4-H has more than just impacted my life. It has given me opportunities that would enhance my leadership and citizenship skills, and it has also shaped me into the person I have become. 4-H has provided life skill s and given me the confidence to take responsibility in preparation for a successful future, in both my career and helping others.

My 4-H experience started in 2006, when I was very young, at the age of 7. Our family had decided to purchase land to have chickens and dairy animals in order to produce homemade products for heal their living. I started out wanting to show the chickens because of how cute and cuddly I found them. Quickly my interest in showing chickens soon initiated my desire to show dairy goats as well at our local 4-H county fair.  For my first year showing a goat, I bought a doeling from a fellow 4-H member. I groomed that doeling, fed her, and cared for her as if she were my child. When it was time to bring her to the show ring, it was an event I could never forget. It was not about winning a ribbon (although my eyes lit up with such enthusiasm when the judge handed me that maroon ribbon with gold script for: “Participation”

written on the bottom of it). It was the thought of taking an animal that I had raised, taken responsibility for, and presented to the public eye. It was such a prideful moment for me! I was hooked. My desi re for more experience grew fast, and I began spreading across the map (you know like when Indiana Jones tracks his excursions in red on the map? That is how it felt anyway.) I was exhibiting at as many fairs as I could, determined to strengthen m y goat showing skills.

My first time entering the huge show ring at the State Fair, I was 8 years old. I inspected every comer, every animal, and the face of every showman. Every exhibitor in the ring had the same look of determination – ready to execute anyone who stepped in their path of winning the competition. Here I came with my little doeling, with her dainty little prance, and me, clueless of what the competition had in store for me. I learned what it truly meant to be in the State Fair. I showed my heart out, and I think the judge realized this. He pulled me aside after the show was over and sort-of interviewed me about where I bought my goats and m y experience so far. He was surprised to see that an exhibitor of my age was

attempting to show in such a tough competition, with adults on top of it. He took me around to some of the big breeders at the fair and introduced me to them. I spent the rest of the weekend at the State fair receiving advice from Dairy Goat Celebrities. Enhancing my showing skills was daunting at first. I began competing with not only youth, but also in the Open Shows, which consisted of 4-H Youth and various breeders that had been in the business for quite some time. Years passed from my first time showing a goat, and the more I practiced the more determined I became to make myself the best exhibitor.

After that time the State Fair Judge introduced me to some of the major dairy goat breeders, I became acquainted with some of the representatives and chairmen of the State Fair. They told me they were so impressed by my accomplishments as such a young youth exhibitor, that they chose me to conduct the Dairy Goat Showmanship Class and hands-on training portion of the State Fair Annual Pre­

Fair Seminar and Ethics Training! My task was to schedule and build a curriculum that would allow me to teach everything I had learned about showing a dairy goat, to over 100 youth exhibitors (and their parents). The pressure was on, but I grabbed that microphone and I showed every exhibitor how to tum, walk, set up, and groom their animals, even down to how to answer the judge when he wanted to evaluate your knowledge on the ADGA Scorecard and the conformation of the animal you were exhibiting.

Standing up in front of that many people, and presenting something I had learned so much about was difficult for me. Not because I was not prepared to present my knowledge on dairy animals, but because I was never a good public speaker, and I wasn’t sure how to go about explaining it all to them. Before 4-H, I was always shy. My development as a public speaker from County Events presentations of Public Speaking, and providing these annual seminars seemed to peak quickly.  That first time I just went for it, and after much improvement, I was able to give public speeches in various setting effortlessly. Between teaching other youth my knowledge and speaking out in school and other settings, I was confident I could do anything if I put my mind to it!

After my 6th year in 4-H, at 13 years old, I was invited to go to the American Dairy Goat National Show in Loveland, CO, with one of the Oberhasli Dairy Goat Breeders I met at the State Fair, who had seen me giving seminars on my knowledge of dairy animals. Never in my life had I seen so many lovely animal s I Walking into the show ring when it was time for Showmanship was nerve-wracking. Compared to prior experiences, this was not the type of pressure I felt when I had to stand up in front of 100 youth and give a seminar. THIS was not showing my first time at the State Fair. It was more than that. I was being live-streamed across Amen ca. My family, friends, everyone was sharing this moment with me. It was talking my breath away. Before I stepped into the ring, however, I heard a familiar voice behind me say “you can do this!”. It was the judge from the State Fair! My confidence came back, and I was ready to go. There were 54 other youth competitors in my division, and after 2 bloodcurdling hours, I walked out of that show ring 3rd place in my division, in all of the U.S. What an emotional life experience.Mia at her graduation from Woodstock Academy

As my confidence grew after having exhibited at so many fairs, I began conducting other seminars and showmanship clinics with other 4-H and FFA groups that were implementing Dairy Goats into their curriculums. I found it satisfying and refreshing to help other youth be prepared for the State Fair competitions as well as National Competitions. I felt it would be a nice gesture to not only share all the knowledge I had obtained throughout my experience as a youth exhibitor, but it would be something that would help me grow as an individual. My life experiences with 4-H also enhanced my academic standing and improved my overall achievement in many aspects of my life. For both 4-H, and during homeschooling / my High School years, I served many community service hours monthly, if not weekly. These hours included cleaning up local historical sites to singing Christmas Carols at retirement homes There were times when I would supervise Petting Zoos for rehabilitation centers and schedule Summer Camp clinics on how to mil k, raise, and make dairy products from goats. Organizing my time as well as my knowledge in 4-H has helped me establish who I am, and grow as a person. I realized after many years in 4-H that even my career goals were set to help others. 4-H just makes you a better person! I plan on incorporating my knowledge of the Spanish language along with my knowledge on agriculture and husbandry to conduct classes as a professor here and in other countries giving lectures on how to rai se dairy animals for homesteading purposes. In all, 4-H is the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I look forward to staying involved in it, making a difference in my community, and passing on my knowledge in the future.

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Strong thirsts in fragile countries: walking the water scarce path of refugees

A Syrian child in Zaatari Camp uses a water kiosk designed for hand washing and water collection. 
Photo: Oxfam International

Imagine that you must flee home at once. You may be fleeing violence, social tensions, poor environmental conditions, or even persecution. You and your loved ones may walk for several days to find safety, and may even go for periods without food.
 
What would you need to survive?
 
The answer is clean water. Finding drinkable water is one of the first steps in your journey to a new home. If you instead consume contaminated water, you risk exposure to several diseases. Drinking water unfit for consumption may not only harm your health in the short run — drinking unclean water may cause life-long health problems. And of course, these problems multiply if entire communities, or even cities, face these health problems.
 
At the end of this leg of the journey, you may end up in a densely populated refugee camp. Many refugee camps quickly become quasi cities that suffer from poor planning, poor water supplies, and poor sanitation. Keeping these makeshift cities clean and safe is a herculean task. For many refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in these water scarce cities, it is difficult to access water supply and sanitation facilities.
 
The situation is even more dire for refugees or IDPs in the water-scarce Masreq subregion*. The demographic shock of mass migration compounds already complex challenges in the region — from climate shocks to crumbling infrastructure. According to the World Bank report Turbulent Waters: Pursuing Water Security in Fragile Contexts, water security is more difficult to achieve in fragile contexts because of a range of factors, including weak institutions and information systems, strained human and financial resources, and degraded infrastructure.
 
Water Scarce Cities Initiative Hosts Technical Workshop to Tackle Tough Water Issues
 
The World Bank’s Water Scarce Cities Initiative (WSC) provides the unique opportunity for urban water practitioners, global thought leaders, and institutions to share solutions to such complex water security issues. Many urban centers are building resilience in their water systems to hedge against demographic and climate shocks, and there is much to learn from their experiences. By bringing together stakeholders with first hand experiences with water scarcity in urban contexts, WSC is bringing to light solutions and strategies for survival in a water scarce world.
 

 
Realizing the common global need to improve resilience to demographic shocks, particularly in fragile contexts, the World Bank’s Water Scarce Cities Initiative (WSC) hosted the Second Technical Workshop in Beirut, Lebanon. This workshop gave diverse participants – such as youth and women – the opportunity to learn from one another about principles and successful applications of Integrated Urban Water Management (IUWM) in fragile and water scarce environments. The workshop included presentations such as the Malta water security experience and a panel discussion on Urban Water Management Challenges and Approaches. The workshop findings highlight that robust water management systems should be a priority in fragile contexts, and that pursuing water security in fragile contexts requires cross-sectoral approaches to reduce the risks of fragility. It is critical to preserve surface, ground- and transboundary water resources through water-related investments aimed at reversing the water insecurity and fragility cycle. These solutions may include regulating and monitoring groundwater abstraction, as well as rehabilitating/developing water storage infrastructure using labor intensive methods. 
 

  • Read this WSC story to find out what Malta, Marrakech, and Las Vegas have in common

 
Emily Lewis, Livelihoods Technical Coordinator, Danish Refugee Council (Dansk Flygtningehjælp), contributed to the workshop discussions. She designs and manages the implementation of livelihood interventions for Syrian refugees and Jordanians, as well as leads several coordination groups in the region. Ms. Lewis reflected on her experience with the workshop, as well as with the dynamics between water insecurity and fragility:
 
“You have systems that are undergoing significant shocks constantly…so you really need an integrated approach because the system alone or these technical areas alone can’t handle the stress from each of these shocks…Trying to bring in the support from the local governments, from the INGO sector, or from the private sector, bringing these voices to the table will help significantly in hedging the risk of investing in water management strategies in fragile states.”
 

 
Water Scarce Cities Initiative Continues to Chart New Paths to Water Security
 
Through events such as the Second Technical Workshop in Beirut, WSC aims to shift the mindsets of water managers, demystify available water scarcity solutions, and offer true and tested pathways to water security. The Water Scarce Cities Initiative offers a new avenue for knowledge sharing on urban water management by creating and sustaining stronger connections between cities facing water scarcity – as evidenced by the constructive convening of diverse voices at the workshop in Beirut.
 
There is still more we can do to improve urban water security in fragile contexts. Refugee and IDP numbers continue to increase worldwide, while pressure is mounting on finite water resources. Many world regions are increasingly water-strapped, and this can worsen fragility, or even contribute to perpetuating cycles of conflict. Water insecurity can weaken the social compact between a government and its people, adding to a downward spiral of water insecurity and fragility.

The WSC is a work in progress and aims to continue strengthening cooperation between cities and utilities to improve management of scarce water resources. By sharing strategies for survival in a water scarce world, WSC casts new light on how urban areas in scarcity contexts can thrive in a finite resource world.

* The Mashreq subregion includes five countries: Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria

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Growing Gardens, Growing Health in Norwalk

The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) helps families learn about healthy eating, shopping on a budget, cooking and physical activity. EFNEP staff strive to empower participants, providing knowledge and skills to improve the health of all family members. Participants learn through doing, with cooking, physical activity and supportive discussions about nutrition and healthy habits.

EFNEP classes will help you to prepare delicious, low-cost, healthy meals for you and your family. Some of our past classes are highlighted in this series. Contact the office near you for more information. 

student in Norwalk with strawberry in the garden
Photo: Heather Peracchio

Growing Gardens, Growing Health connects low income parents and their children to instruction, hands-on practice, and resources for gardening, nutrition, and cooking in order to encourage healthier food choices for the whole family. Over the course of the past 6 summers, participants worked with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist from EFNEP and certified master gardeners from Extension to plant and grow fresh vegetables and herbs. Over ten weeks, families received practical, family- and budget-friendly information about nutrition and built essential skills by making fun, healthy recipes. Each week children of the families learned about MyPlate and the food groups through fun and interactive games and activities with the help of EFNEP volunteers and an Extension summer intern.

Economically disadvantaged families were recruited to participate in a 10-week, hands-on, nutrition and gardening education program (n=35). Program goals were to enhance participants’ knowledge, skills, and self-efficacy associated with purchasing, preparing and consuming produce; incorporating physical activity into everyday life; and gardening and growing produce for personal use. Childhood obesity rates are higher than national average, 39% in this city. The Growing Gardens, Growing Health program helps families work together to grow fruits and vegetables on a community farm, learn about nutrition and how to prepare healthy foods in the on-premises, fully equipped kitchen classroom, and enjoy the freshly prepared fruit/vegetable-based meals as a group seated around the table. Local health department educators partnered with University Extension educators including a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), bilingual program aide, Master Gardener (MG) volunteers and student volunteers to implement this program. Data collection included a pre-post survey (n=21), and participants demonstrated increased readiness to change physical activity behaviors (47%), cooking behaviors with vegetables/fruits (40%) and consumption of 5 servings vegetables/fruits daily (31%). A family shares, “I am so glad we committed to this. We are eating better, with more nutrition, using less of a budget.” In summary, garden-based nutrition education that is family-focused may improve physical activity, vegetable/fruit consumption and self-efficacy associated with purchasing, preparing, and consuming produce; such improvements may decrease risk of obesity.

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Can Less Food Waste Save Our Planet?

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Sure, you may not love that meal your parents packed for you, but don’t throw it out!  Don’t waste food and valuable resources!  The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization states that one in three people are malnourished.  However, keep in mind, 1.3 billion metric tons of food is wasted every year.

Food waste is both an economic and environmental issue.  As the world’s population increases, this issue is only expected to get worse, unless we can be less wasteful.  Meanwhile, the environment is being harmed because it takes a lot of water, fertilizer, and land to produce food.  Not to mention, this significantly contributes to issues like global warming and excessive landfill waste.

According to another FAO study, 54% of food waste occurs through food production, harvesting, handling, storage, processing, distribution, and consumption stages.  But, why should you care?

When you dump leftovers, you’re not only throwing out food that someone else in the world needs., you’re also throwing out all the resources that went into producing your food.  This includes energy, water, and fuel.  Food waste easily becomes a lot of water waste.

The World Resources Institute says that 135 trillion liters of water are lost for every 1.3 billion metric tons of food waste. Believe it or not, agricultural practices consume most of the water used every year, about 70% of it.  A quarter of that goes into draining the food waste.

The food waste that ends up in landfills then produces methane.  Methane is a greenhouse gas. A report stated that if food waste were a country, it would be the third largest producer of greenhouse gases, next to the US and China.  

What you can do about it

You cannot solve this issue alone, but every step you make towards less food waste. Here are ten things you can do to reduce your food waste!

1.    Grocery List

When you go shopping, save yourself some money and food you’ll throw out anyway.  Buy only what you need and will eat.  Avoid buying things in bulk if they have a small expiration date.  Then, if you get food with a short expiration date, make sure to eat it first!

2. Smaller Portions

Get healthy and save the Earth all at the same time just by consuming smaller portions!  If you don’t put more than you can eat on your plate, you won’t waste as much food.  

3. Buy Quality 

Buy quality food.  If you purchase vegetables and fruits, make sure they’re in great condition, so you won’t end up throwing them out.  Sometimes they have dents or rotten spots.  But at the same time, don’t throw out food you’ve boughten if it’s got just a few bad spots.  You can cut out the nasty parts and eat the rest!  It’s perfectly fine!

4. Monitor the Fridge

Monitor your fridge at all times to keep your food safe.  If it gets too warm, everything will rot.  If it’s too cold, that’s just as bad.  Prevent the need to throw out food.

5. Reuse and Recycle

Keep looking for opportunities to reuse or recycle food.  If you really cannot stand that can of beets in your pantry, give it to the food shelter where starving people would love that can of beets. Anytime you have excess, unopened, food, donate it to your local food bank.  It’s much appreciated!

If you’re the farmer, retailer, food processor, or consumer, it’s your responsibility to reduce waste.  You can start today by finishing those veggies on your plate that you may not love!

Interested in learning about advanced water recycling technologies? Contact us today. 
 

Learn More

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Sustainable Landscape News

UConn turfgrass field day - Vickie Wallace presenting Vickie Wallace is an Extension Educator and Program Director of UConn’s Sustainable Turf and Landscape Program. Ms. Wallace is part of a team of Extension specialists that provides Integrated Pest Management (IPM) education for CT landscape professionals and homeowners. One focus of Ms. Wallace’s program is the training of municipal and school grounds managers who maintain safe athletic fields and grounds without the use of pesticides, which are banned on school grounds in CT. In June, 75 turf managers and landscaping professionals took part in a 2-day Municipal Turf and School Grounds Managers Academy.

Ms. Wallace has also co-organized several other Extension programs, including both a School IPM and a Native Plants & Pollinators workshop. She has written and disseminated numerous educational articles on many topics, including Water Conservation in CT Landscapes, Deer Resistant Plants, Sustainable Landscaping, Designing and Maintaining Meadows, and Using Weather Stations for Athletic Field Maintenance. She has spoken at multiple regional and national conferences, including at this month’s New England Grows conference in Boston, MA. Additionally, she is developing a new UConn Extension website focused on Sustainable Landscaping.
Ms. Wallace is also co-leader on a research project, funded by the Northeast Regional Turfgrass Foundation and Northeast Sports Turf Managers Association, evaluating turfgrass species and overseeding rates as part of an athletic turf care program.

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Nutrition & Wellness in New London County

fruit and vegetables in shopping basketErica Benvenuti, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) dietitian, provides workshops, presentations, and food demonstrations for low-income families and individuals in Southeastern Connecticut. The interactive, educational classes are designed to help people make healthy food choices on a limited budget. 

The EFNEP program’s nutrition and cooking classes teach practical, easily applicable skills, such as simple dishes to make with foods that are easy to have on hand. Participants learn life skills, smart shopping, and how to prepare easy, nutritious meals and snacks. The program serves a wide range of constituents, including middle school, high school, and college students; pregnant women and new moms; special education classes; refugees and recently arrived immigrants; and residents of transitional living facilities. Participants have the opportunity to taste the items prepared, and, in some classes, help prepare the food.

Erica also participates in New London County food policy planning and educates agency staff in order to broaden the impact of the program and regularly reach new clients. Program partners include Ledge Light health District, New London Mayor’s Fitness Initiative, Norwich Free Academy, United Way of Southeast CT, and Catholic Charities. EFNEP workshops have helped motivate and empower participants to make healthier food choices and become more physically active. 

The newly renovated gardens at River-front Childrens’ Center. 

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