We all can do our part for the planet

Tick Testing 101

tick testing at UConn
Photo: UConn Communications

If you find a tick on yourself, your child, or your pet, remove it immediately! The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL) can test the tick for pathogens. Ticks received at the CVMDL are first examinedunder a microscope by trained technicians to determine the species of tick, life stage, and degree of blood engorgement, all of which are factors that may impact transmission of pathogens to the person or animal. Ticks may then be tested for the DNA of pathogens that are common to that tick species. Results are reported within 3-5 business days of receiving the sample, and next day testing is available for an additional fee.

How to send in ticks: Please send ticks in sealed zip lock bags accompanied by a small square of moist paper towel. The submission form, pricing and the “Do’s and Don’ts of tick testing” can be found on our website at http://s.uconn.edu/468.

For more information contact the Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory at cvmdl.uconn.edu or 860-486-3738.

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Money from waste? Revamp your view on sanitation

As an undergraduate student in Kampala, my head was full of thoughts about how I was going to make a living after my studies. Back then Rich Dad Poor Dad was still a best-seller, and I thought to myself: I can become a billionaire if I sell a billion of something to a billion people. Needless to say, it would have to be something that anyone can afford, like toothpaste or chewing gum.
 
So, I wondered, what does every human need? It dawned on me: everyone needs water, food, and energy, every day. The next question was how I could make valuable goods from all the three as a civil engineer.


A fascination with sanitation

Over the course of my studies, I became interested in the intimate connections between water, food, and energy. I learnt about the water and nutrient cycles, and how we can recover resources from waste and use them to fertilize crops and generate energy.

The world’s population is rapidly growing, and much of this growth is happening in low- and middle-income countries. Most people now live in cities, and this proportion is likely to increase with time. These cities are going to be thirsty, hungry, and energy demanding, and we will need to become much more efficient in the ways we manage our resources if we are to meet their demands.

Looking at the supply side, each of us generates about 1.5 litres of excreta daily – all together, a huge amount of waste. We can, of course, flush it down the drain and into our rivers, lakes, and oceans; or we can turn our pee and poo into valuable resources, like power and protein.

Such resource recovery cuts the costs we all have to bare from emissions of pathogens and pollutants. For instance, consider Lake Victoria – a mammoth source of fresh water not only for Kampala, where I come from, but for several other cities in Kenya and Tanzania. Releasing waste into Lake Victoria not only drives the treatment costs of drinking water up, but it also amplifies risks to public health arising from water-borne diseases. Additionally, the abundance of organic matter in excreta chokes life in water, affecting fish stocks and other aquatic animals.

A resource recovery approach to sanitation and waste management brings water, food, energy, and health systems together. And extracting value from waste can be a lucrative business. For one thing, the raw materials are cheap, and a steady, abundant supply is guaranteed as long as humans exist.


Wasted opportunities

In 2014, while working on my master’s thesis, I met Kim Andersson and Arno Rosemarin, who have devoted their careers to sustainable sanitation and resource recovery (in SEI’s EcoSanRes programme and SEI Initiative on Sustainable Sanitation, among others). It was around this time that the concept of “shit flow diagrams” (SFDs) gained prominence in the sanitation discourse.

Shit-flow diagram for Kampala, Uganda
Source: Eawag/Sandec 2016


SFDs show the status of excreta management in a city, representing the flows of excreta from where they are generated all the way to their final destination. The green arrows in a shit-flow diagram are the safely managed excreta flows; the red arrows represent the flows of excreta that end up in the city environment, poorly treated, or not treated at all.

SFDs are designed to warn of potential pollution. But Kim and Arno saw in these red and green arrows missed opportunities, since excreta contain nutrients, organic matter, water, and energy that are rarely recovered, even in the most advanced treatment systems. That is how the idea for the REVAMP (resource value mapping) tool was born.
 

REVAMP – unlocking the sanitation transformation?

Essentially, REVAMP uses the information about a city’s excreta flows (adding food waste, animal manure, and other organic waste) to estimate the potential monetary (and other) value the city could get from them. The tool is created to assist cities in development of common vision for resource recovery initiatives, based on the city’s real needs.

REVAMP is now in beta version, but over the next three to four years we want to turn it to a more robust and comprehensive tool. We want to co-develop the tool together with the people who will be using it in the future, like those working in municipal authorities, managers of urban waste systems, energy and water planners, and food and agricultural planners.

As a decision-support tool, REVAMP will show what options are available for resource recovery from waste and what they could be worth based on local market prices for similar products. After that, it is up to decision-makers in a city to decide what resource recovery option to choose.

We hope REVAMP will bring different stakeholders to the table and help them reach holistic solutions for water and resource ownership and management in their cities. In this way, REVAMP could help break the silo thinking that so often obstructs information exchange and collaboration between those working with energy, water, agriculture, sanitation, and waste management.

The REVAMP team is setting up projects in Naivasha, Kenya and Chia, Colombia, and we have received interest from stakeholders in Durban, South Africa and Stockholm, Sweden. We hope to better understand what resource-recovery options are most attractive to local decision-makers and businesses. Equally important, we will learn about social acceptance, and about the institutional and regulatory environment needed to make the options work.

While my dreams of becoming a billionaire may have faded along the way, the idea of helping billions of people meet their everyday needs has stayed with me. And who knows, maybe one day every city in the world will be using REVAMP to understand how to make value from waste, while keeping people and the environment safe and sound.

Daniel Ddiba is a Research Associate with Stockholm Environment Institute. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author alone. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Bank.

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Safeguarding Health Through Diagnostics

Heidi and Scott Morey
Veterinarians Heidi Morey ’05 (CAHNR) and Scott Morey ’06 (CAHNR) with Jonathan XIV at Fenton River Veterinary Hospital in Tolland on June 21, 2017. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

The Connecticut Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (CVMDL) at UConn safeguards animal and human health. Faculty and staff fulfill their mission through veterinary diagnostic laboratory services, professional expertise, and collaboration with state and federal agencies to detect and monitor diseases important to animal and human health, as well as detecting newly emerging diseases.

CVMDL is committed to providing current, timely, and personalized expert service to our client veterinarians, animal owners, producers, academic collaborators, and partner agencies. The laboratory is housed within the Department of Pathobiology and Veterinary Science, and develops new approaches to disease identification, investigation, and prevention while educating students, including veterinarians, seeking advanced training in disease related studies.

CVMDL incorporates the land grant university mission of service, teaching, and research in its daily practices, and is the only laboratory in New England accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians. Services offered include: histology, immunohistochemistry, mastitis, microbiology, molecular diagnostics, pathology, parasitology, serology, and virology.

“We send a lot of our clients to CVMDL for the necropsy service,” says Dr. Scott Morey ’06 (CAHNR) of Fenton River Veterinary Hospital in Tolland. “We want a necropsy done in the proper environment, where better diagnostic samples can be obtained and processed, as opposed to what we can collect in a field necropsy. Most of the time we’re mainly looking for infectious disease so we can change what happens for the other animals left on a farm.”

Necropsy services can also be used for small animals. Dr. Heidi Morey ’05 (CAHNR) handles the small animal end of the veterinary practice, while Scott primarily works with large animals. “We had one young dog die suddenly on a client, and CVMDL helped determine it was most likely a heart attack,” Heidi mentions.

“We do a surprising amount of chicken work,” Scott continues. “CVMDL completes efficient and timely necropsies on chickens. We also utilize them for rabies testing, and Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE) test for small ruminants. Clients who own sheep and goats want their animals to be CAE negative, and need proof of that. We send the samples to CVMDL.”

Tick testing is part of the molecular diagnostics section. A single infected deer tick can transmit anywhere from one to four illnesses simultaneously. CVMDL is the only laboratory in the state that will test a deer tick off humans or animals. CVMDL also tests other common species of ticks. The lab tests deer ticks for Borrelia burgdorferi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Babesia microti, and Borrelia miyamotoi. Dog ticks are tested for Francisella tularensis, Rickettsia rickettsia, Ehrlichiaspecies. Lonestar ticks are tested for Ehrlichiaspecies, Francisella tularensis, and Borrelia lonestari. Brown dog ticks are tested for Rickettsia rickettsiaand Ehrlichia species.

Residents, doctors, veterinarians, and public health officials utilize tick testing services to make proactive and informed decisions regarding human and animal health. In 2017, 397 ticks were tested.

Connecticut is home to a number of large dairy farms, and CVMDL provides mastitis testing and environmental pathogen testing, in addition to Brucellosis, Johnne’s, and other diseases. Rabies tests on animals that may have come in contact with a human are also sent to the Department of Public Health for confirmation testing. All other rabies testing in Connecticut is done at CVMDL.

The laboratory is on the frontlines of safeguarding animal and human health in Connecticut. Each case that arrives in Storrs is different, and provides the team at CVMDL with another opportunity to teach students and clients, develop new tests and procedures, and monitor disease and health issues.

Article by Stacey Stearns

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Tuna Burger Recipe

tuna burger recipe
Photo: North Carolina Extension

TUNA BURGERS

Makes 6 servings

Serving size: 1 patty

 

Ingredients

  • 2 (4.5-ounce) cans low-sodium tuna
  • 1 cup bread crumbs, divided
  • 1 cup low-fat cheddar chese, shredded
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup non-fat ranch salad dressing
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • Non-stick cooking spray

Directions

  1. Drain tuna, separate into flakes using a fork
  2. In a medium bowl, combine tuna, ½ cup bread crumbs, cheese, egg, salads dressing, and onion.
  3. Form six patties; coat each side with remaining ½ cup bread crumbs.
  4. Spray non-stick skillet with cooking spray; heat to medium heat.
  5. Cook patties 3-5 minutes on each side until golden brown.

Nutrition Information Per Serving

230 Calories, Total Fat 8g, Saturated Fat 4g, Protein 17g, Total Carbohydrate 20g, Dietary Fiber 3g, Sodium 430mg. Good source of calcium and iron.

 

 

TORTITAS DE ATÚN

Rinde 6 raciones

Tamaño de la ración: 1 tortita

 

Ingredientes

  • 2 latas (4.5 onzas) de atún bajo en sodio
  • 1 taza de pan molido, dividido en dos porciones
  • 1 taza de queso tipo cheddar bajo en grasa, rallado
  • 1 huevo, ligeramente batido
  • ½ taza de aderezo para ensalada sin grasa tipo ranch
  • ¼ de taza de cebolla finamente picada
  • Aceite en aerosol antiadherente para cocinar

Instrucciones

  1. Escurra el atún y desmenuce con un tenedor.
  2. Combine en un tazón mediano el atún, la ½ taza de pan molido, el queso, el huevo, el aderezo y la cebolla.
  3. Forme seis tortitas y empanice cada lado con la ½ taza restante de pan molido.
  4. Rocíe el sartén con aceite en aerosol antiadherente para cocinar y deje que se caliente a fuego medio.
  5. Cocine las tortitas entre 3 y 5 minutos de cada lado o hasta que se doren.

Informaciόn nutricional por cada raciόn

230 calorías, Total de grasa 8g, Grasa saturada 4g, Proteína 17g, Total de carbohidratos 20g, Fibra dietética 3g, Sodio 430mg. Buena fuente de calcio y de hierro.

Recipe: North Carolina Extension

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The shape of water for development

This post originally appeared on High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development website on July 9, 2018.
 

From July 9-18, more than 2,000 representatives from governments, businesses, civil society organizations and UN agencies gather for the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development. 


Water touches nearly every aspect of development. It flows through and connects the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by driving economic growth, supporting healthy ecosystems, cultivating food and energy production, and ensuring access to sanitation. We cannot achieve the SDGs without our collective action on water.

Yet today water represents a silent emergency and a risk to our goals of building shared economic progress and sustainable development. The challenges include gaps in access to water supply and sanitation driven by growing populations and rapid urbanization, more water-intensive patterns of growth, increasing rainfall variability, and pollution, among others. The forthcoming SDG 6 Synthesis Report on Water and Sanitation captures the current situation rather succinctly: “the world is not on track” to achieve our water goals embedded in SDG6.

Billions of people around the world still lack safe water, sanitation and handwashing facilities. An increase in wastewater in many parts of the world is affecting quality. National governance structures remain weak and fragmented. Rapid urbanization has put enormous stress on agricultural production and water supply. Financing remains insufficient and data gaps in monitoring are abundant.

The World Bank Group is working with our country partners in a number of ways to address these challenges and ensure that water is used wisely to help achieve the SDGs and a water-secure world for all.

To continue reading the blog post, visit HLPF website for the original post: “The Shape of Water for Development”.

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Cooking with EFNEP at Morris Street School

EFNEP graduation photo Since, 1969, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) has helped families in Connecticut learn about healthy eating, physical activity, cooking, and shopping on a budget. Despite being an affluent state, nearly 1 in 5 families with children in Connecticut is food insecure, or does not have adequate access to healthy food. Many urban areas in Connecticut are amongst the poorest in the country. Additionally, access to healthy food is a challenge in rural areas where transportation is a barrier. EFNEP staff work in these areas of greatest need in Connecticut, striving 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.

Heather Peracchio and Juliana Restrepo-Marin from UConn Extension EFNEP in Fairfield County teamed up with Danbury’s Morris Street School Family Resource Center to provide a series of classes on healthy eating, exercise, cooking and food safety to new mothers. The classes covered topics such asportion sizes, recommended servings for different age groups, and how to use MyPlate Daily Checklists. Access to vital emergency food resources, like food pantries and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were also discussed. Participants learned how to make smart drink and breakfast choices, how to read nutrition labels and compare nutritional facts, and how to shop smart and find the best value. The educators completed hands-on cooking demonstrations with the group, using healthy, affordable and easy-to-prepare recipes from the Cooking With EFNEP cookbook. The class also discussed how to incorporate more physical activity into the day, with a Zumba class that was led by a participant that was a certified instructor.

Upon lesson completion, participants were given the opportunity to comment on the course and what they learned. Overall, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Here’s what some participants had to say:  “I learned many things, such as: how to control sugar portions, I learned about oil, food prices and how to incorporate seasonal fruit in my recipes.”

“I loved this class very much. I learned how to eat healthier, buy better food, check the products’ labels and how to add fruit in my meals.”

“Thank you for giving us the opportunity to learn in this nutrition course. Thanks to Viviane for organizing this class and making it possible. I would also like to thank Miss Heather and Miss Juliana for teaching us how to cook healthy meals for our daily lives. I learned a lot from you and I hope this is not the last time you teach us.”

“I would like to thank teacher Heather, Juliana, the translator and Viviane for this great effort and support to all of us with the nutrition classes. This has been very helpful. We learned how to eat healthy.”

For more information on how you can become involved in UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, or to see our recipes, and other information, go to efnep.uconn.edu or find us on Facebook at UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program- EFNEP or Twitter at @UConnEFNEP!

Article by Madelyn Zanini

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10 Rules for Safe Canning

By Diane Wright Hirsch, MPH
Senior Extension Educator/Food Safety

home canning with tomatoes
Photo: Diane Wright Hirsch

Even though some may feel home canning has gone the way of the dinosaurs, I regularly get questions posed to me by newbie and experience canners alike. Some want to know how to can tomatoes without potentially killing a loved one. Others want to know if there is anything new in the canning pipeline.

It seems as if more people are gardening these days so that they can have more control over their produce supply—they can grow what they like and minimize the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. A happy consequence of a successful garden is a bountiful supply of zucchini, tomatoes and peppers—maybe too bountiful! As a result, the gardener must now become a food processor. Home canning is not difficult, but, it IS important to do it right. Here are ten rules for canning to help you in your pursuit of a safe home canned food supply—whether you have been canning for years or this is your first time.

1) Make sure your jars/lids are in good shape.
 Use (or re-use) canning jars manufactured for home canning. Check for cracks or chips and throw out or recycle any jars that are not in good shape.
 Be sure the jar rings are not dented or rusty.
 Buy new jar lids. The sealing compound can disintegrate over time, especially in damp basements, so make sure that your supply is new or no more than one year         old. Do not reuse old lids. (If you still use rubber jar rings, these CAN be reused unless they are dry and/or cracked, though these jars may be more prone to failed seals.)

2) Use up to date canning guidelines. With the exception of jams and jellies, recipes that are older than 1996 should be relegated to the family album. A great resource for up to date guidelines and recipes is the National Center for Home Food Preservation at: www.uga.edu/nchfp. This site is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved site for home food preservation information. Go there and check out the latest recommendations. They are also great about addressing some questionable practices that are introduced over the years, such as canning food in the oven or canning bread in a jar.

3) Choose the right canner for the job.
 Water bath canners are for jams, jellies, relishes, pickles, fruits such as apples, apple sauce, peaches and tomatoes.
 Pressure canners are for all other vegetables, soups, meats, fish, and some tomato products, especially if they contain large amounts of low acid vegetables such as peppers, celery or onions. Some folks like to can tomatoes in a pressure canner because it takes much less time and uses less fuel/energy.

4) If using a pressure canner with a dial gauge, have it checked annually to make sure it is reading properly. Check with the manufacturer regarding gauge testing or call the Home and Garden Education Center.

5) If you are pressure canning, be sure that the gasket is still soft and pliable. If dry and/or cracked, you need to replace it.

6) Use high quality, just-ripe produce for canning. You will never end up with canned tomatoes (or any other produce) better than those you started with. Overripe strawberries can lead to a runny jam. Overripe, mushy or decayed tomatoes (often sold in baskets labeled “canning tomatoes” when they are really “tomatoes that we can’t sell for slicing because they are past their prime”) may have a lower acid level or higher pH, making the processing time inadequate for safety.

7) Make sure everything is clean before your start. Be sure to clean:
 Canners (often stored in a cobwebby corner of the basement)
 Jars, jar lifter, screw bands, etc.
 Counter tops or other work surfaces
 Your produce (wash with cold running water—no soap or bleach please)
 YOUR HANDS

8) Follow approved recipes to the letter. When you change the amount or type of ingredient, you risk upsetting the balance that would result in a safe, high quality product. Too little sugar will make jams too soft; cutting out the salt may make a pickle recipe unsafe; and throwing additional onions and peppers into a tomato sauce can increase the risk for botulism.

9) Adhere to processing times—even if they seem long. Processing canned foods in a water bath or pressure canner is what makes these products safe for on-the-shelf storage. Each product is assigned the processing time needed to destroy the spoilage organisms and/or pathogens (the kind of bugs that make us sick) that are most likely to be a problem in THAT product.
 The short processing times for jams and jellies destroy yeasts and mold spores that used to be common place when these products were not water-bathed, but covered in paraffin.
 The long processing times for tomatoes are needed because modern tomato varieties are often lower in acid than those in the past. If 45 minutes seems way to long to you (especially when you watch the electric meter ticking away), you might want to consider pressure canning them for 15 minutes at 6 pounds of pressure or 10 minutes at 11 pounds.

10) Allow your jars to cool naturally, right side up, for 12 hours or more before testing seals. Testing earlier may cause the new seal to break.
 Cool jars away from an open window to prevent breakage by cool evening breezes on hot jars.
 Remove screw bands, clean and dry them and store several in a convenient place for use later when you open a jar and need to refrigerate leftovers. (Screw bands should not be left on jars when storing. Food residue and moisture may collect and cause rusting or molding that can ruin a good seal.)
 Test seals, reprocess if needed.

Follow the rules and you will be well on your way to processing a safe, shelf-stable food supply for your household.

For more information about canning food safely at home, visit our website at www.foodsafety.uconn.edu, check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation, or contact the Home and Garden Education Center at ladybug@uconn.edu or 1-877-486-6271.

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Avoiding pitfalls between policy and pipes

What motivates poor policy and investment decisions? Why do supposedly good policies not translate into practice? And how can we avoid perpetuating pitfalls between policy and pipes?
 
Our new paper ‘Aligning Institutions and Incentives for Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation Services’, produced with the support of the Global Water Security and Sanitation Partnership (GWSP), examines precisely these issues. Through research, analysis, and case studies, the report posits that genuine, sustainable progress in water supply and sanitation service delivery is complex, iterative, and multi-faceted. Whether it’s expanding access, improving efficiency, or providing better services – all reforms require their own unique blend of policies, institutions and regulations and all take place in the context of their own unique enabling environment.


Let’s start by looking at policies. We studied the processes for defining sector and national policies, from decentralization to private sector participation, and found that while policies are well intentioned, they often fail because they are not harmonized with the reality on the ground. Policy is often set without aligning national objectives with the required resources. Ambitious sector strategies are developed with little consideration for how or by whom they will be implemented, nor how they will be financed.  
 
That brings us to the second focus area of our report: Institutions.  Institutions are commonly defined as the social, political, and economic relations governed by rules and norms. Simply put – institutions comprise the formal and informal rules of the game, which in turn impact the quality and sustainability of services. There are many factors that determine whether a policy succeeds or fails, but weak institutional capacity is often chief among them. ‘Capacity is king’ is a well-worn expression in the water sector, and capacity-building is, of course, crucial for sustainable reforms.

When it comes to regulation, the third focus, we need to understand the emerging paradigms of regulating public service providers and creating incentives for achieving universal access. Regulation, which has traditionally aimed at protecting consumers from high prices and low service quality (natural to a monopoly like water) is also now needed to promote the financial sustainability of service providers, whether public or private. This balancing act between affordability and sustainability can be done through various models and is highly context specific. The key is to allow for regulation that promotes policy enforcement in an impartial manner, whether through tariff changes, allocating subsidies, or monitoring service quality.
 
And of course, because the water and sanitation sector is inherently complex, many issues fit in more than one type of mechanism. For example, decentralization or privatization are policy decisions, but they also shape the institutional arrangements and regulatory framework. Recognizing these interlinkages and interplay is vital because delivering sustainable water and sanitation solutions is like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube, where even one small tweak can produce a big change, and every part of the cube needs to fit appropriately with all the other parts of the cube to achieve the end goal.   
 

Maseru Maqalika Water Intake System

If institutions are the rules of the game, then incentives have a huge impact on how the game is played, and both these elements interact with and shape one another These motivating influences or stimuli (think carrots and sticks) drive actors – be they organizations, ministries, service providers, or individuals – to pursue certain objectives or behave in a certain way. They can emanate from the broader enabling environment, including political economy factors or governance structures. This means that the constraints to reform and the appetite for change often lie outside the water sector’s players, requiring that reforms are championed at a higher level or in harmonization with other sector stakeholders. Another output of the PIR (Policies, Institutions, and Regulations) initiative compares the various outcomes of country incentive frameworks in South America. We will share more examples via this blog as the initiative develops.

These drivers for reform – and in turn, the types of reforms initiated – do not arise in a vacuum. They are instead influenced by different factors. These may be endogenous; drivers for reform that arise from political processes within the country in question. Or they may be exogenous; some sort of shock or another external driver.
 
Finally, the report examines the feedback loop between the enabling environment and the policy, institutional and regulatory reforms. This feedback loop is a real-time cycle where thoughtful planning, implementing, evaluating, learning and adapting helps us take the right lessons from both failures and successes. It allows us to test our ideas and then adapt them, depending on what the feedback loop tells us. The feedback loop has different pathways, will involve reversals as well as advancement and is an iterative, dynamic process. Much like development progress itself, in fact.
 
The report reflects much of the thinking around ‘Doing Development Differently’ – rapid learning cycles, working in problem-driven and context-appropriate ways and focusing on best fit as much as best practice. We hope it will help decision-makers and stakeholders think through how to incentivize effective and sustainable service delivery to achieve a water-secure world for all. 
 

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Shuresh Ghimire Joins UConn Extension

Shuresh Ghimire
Shuresh Ghimire

UConn Extension and the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources are pleased to announce that Dr. Shuresh Ghimire joined us on July 6thas our Extension Vegetable Educator.

Dr. Ghimire has a PhD in Horticulture and is based in the Extension office at the Tolland Agricultural Center in Vernon. He was working at Washington State University (WSU), studying crop yields and quality with biodegradable plastic mulch for pumpkin and sweet corn production before he joined UConn. He has also done work on the effects of organic manures and urea on peppers. 

Prior to working in Washington, Shuresh was a Horticultural Development Officer for the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agricultural Development in his native Nepal. He worked extensively with farmers conducting trainings and plant clinics and created extension publications and reports. Dr. Ghimire also served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Horticulture at the Himalayan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.  

Shuresh sat down with us to share his past experiences and goals for the position.

I was raised in a farming family. From my childhood, I had opportunities to taste varieties of home grown fresh and colorful vegetables. Three main reasons that continued my interest in the vegetable sector are:

  1. good source of income for small- to large-scale growers;
  2. nutritional benefits – vegetables carry lots of nutrition but fewer calories; and
  3. health benefits from exercise growing vegetables.

My research was with biodegradable plastic mulch. I’ve learned that some biodegradable plastic mulches provide weed control, crop yield and quality benefits comparable
to polyethylene mulch. One interesting thing about biodegradable plastic mulch is that it can be manufactured using petroleum, bio-based ingredients, or a blend of both. And, greater bio-based content of the mulch doesn’t make it more biodegradable.

Another interesting thing I learned was some biodegradable mulches adhere to the surface of fruits where the fruit rest on the mulch, such as pumpkin and watermelon. Mulch adhesion can reduce the marketability of the produce.

During my time in Washington, I had the privilege of working in a great team where a few people have had the greatest influence on me. Dr. Carol Miles, the major advisor of my PhD program, and a technician and co-worker, Ed Scheenstra, at WSU Mount Vernon Research Center trained me to remain positive and calm even in hard times and keep a can-do attitude. Now I am excited to be a part of the UConn Extension team, and look forward to working with Connecticut vegetable growers, and other vegetable and IPM specialists from the state and regionally.

Shuresh in apple orchardShuresh working in Nepal
The most rewarding part about Extension for me is working with farmers in their fields, getting my hands dirty, and eventually helping them increase their farm profits, and making the farms more viable. I believe an agricultural research investment is worth nothing until and unless outcomes of the research are extended to and adopted by end users, farmers or stakeholders. Extension translates complex research-based results into a farmer friendly version, and also brings farmers’ problems forward for scientific investigation.

My top priorities in the first few years are:

  1. appraise farmers’ problems and needs for the Extension program;
  2. quickly respond to vegetable growers’ questions; and
  3. work with my UConn Extension team to establish a multi-disciplinary program.

Join us in welcoming Shuresh to UConn Extension. You can learn more about the Vegetable Crops IPM program at http://ipm.uconn.edu/root/and contact Shuresh at shuresh.ghimire@uconn.eduor 860-875-3331.

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Bug Out with UConn Extension

Bee on flower from UConn Extension Bug Week photo contest
2017 Photo Contest Winner. Photo credit: Jeff Gonci

UConn Extension’s Bug Week is right around the corner, and we have programs for the whole family.

Bugs are the unsung heroes of our ecosystem, providing services such as pollination and natural pest control. However, bugs don’t stop at environmental benefits. They have also impacted our culture through the manufacturing of silk, sources of dyes, wax and honey production, food sources, and the improvement of building materials and structures. There are also problem bugs, like the Emerald Ash Borer and Brown Marmorated Stink Bug that are a concern in Connecticut. Visit our website at www.bugs.uconn.edu for featured insects and resources.

All ages are welcome to attend and explore the activities and events dedicated to insects and their relatives. Bug Week programs include:

  • Pests and Guests will be held at the Tolland Agricultural Center in Vernon on Monday, July 23rdat 5:30 PM. Activities include: cooking with bugs, games and demos for the whole family, and learning about bugs in the garden. Please register at http://s.uconn.edu/4ac or call 860-486-9228.
  • Pollinators at Auerfarm in Bloomfield on Monday, July 23rdwill have a station at the beehive, pollinator plants, and a hands-on make and take activity. The farm is home to a Foodshare garden, 4-H programs and more, offering fun for the entire family. Time is to be determined, with a rain date of Tuesday. Please register at http://s.uconn.edu/4ac or 860-486-9228.
  • Insect Wonders at the Farm: Join UConn Extension faculty and Spring Valley Student Farm staff and students for an interactive, fun-filled ‘buggy’ event. Learn about our amazing and important insect friends by collecting and observing them. Activities for the whole family will include insect collecting, insect-inspired crafts, Bug-Bingo and a scavenger hunt. This event will be held on Tuesday, July 24th from 9-11 AM. The rain date is July 27th.
  • Join the Museum of Natural History, AntU and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology for an exciting afternoon on campus on Thursday, July 26th from 12-4 PM. We have tours of the insect collections, an AntU presentation, plus exhibit activities, microscope stations, giveaways, and a live ant colony. There will also be special greenhouse displays. Please register at http://s.uconn.edu/4ac
  • Find out all about insects and where to look for them at Bug Walks at the Tolland Agricultural Center in Vernon on Saturday, July 28th from 10 AM-1 PM. The program will have live insects on display, right out in the open, plus part of the insect collection from the UConn Natural History Museum, as well as three bug hunts that include going to the butterfly/pollinator garden and the vegetable garden on the property.
  • Connecticut Science Center is celebrating Bug Week from Monday, July 23rdthrough Saturday, July 28th.Lots of things are buzzing around at the Connecticut Science Center during Bug Week. Spend some time in the tropical Butterfly Encounter, participate in bug-themed Live Science programming, come hear a bug themed story during Story Time, and be sure to explore what is flying around the Rooftop Garden. Programs are open to all ages. Please visit the Connecticut Science Centerfor ticket prices.
  • A photo contest is being offered, with three categories: junior, senior and professional. More details can be found at: http://bugs.uconn.edu/photo-contest/

UConn Extension offices are located across the state and offer an array of services dedicated to educating and informing the public on innovative technology and scientific improvements. Bug Week is one example of UConn Extension’s mission in tying research to real life, by addressing insects and some of their relatives.

For more information on Bug Week, please visit our website at www.bugs.uconn.edu, email bugweek@uconn.edu or call 860-486-9228.

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