Master Gardeners Win International Award

October 24, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Gail Hermenau, New Castle County Master Gardener, of Middletown, Delaware, accepts the Search for Excellence Award at the International Master Gardener Conference on behalf of the entire organization.

Three University of Delaware New Castle County Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners—Suzanne Baron (of Middletown), Gail Hermenau (also of Middletown), and Eva Rotmann-Oehler (of North Wilmington)—and Horticulture Educator and Master Gardener Coordinator, Carrie Murphy, attended the International Master Gardener Conference in Charleston, West Virginia, October 11 – 14, 2011. During the conference, Gail Hermenau accepted the 2011 International Search for Excellence Award presented to the Master Gardeners for their small scale Grow your own Food themed home gardener workshops, demonstrations, and tours in the teaching gardens.

In 2009 and 2010, the New Castle County Master Gardeners responded to community need for information on how to grow your own food.  Master Gardeners worked together with their coordinator to develop opportunities that responded directly to this need.  The topics that Master Gardeners developed as part of their workshops and demonstrations included site and soil preparation, composting, plant selection, seeds and transplants, tips for growing vegetables, companion planting, beneficial insects, integrated pest management (IPM), fall gardening, harvest to table, growing berries, and putting your garden to bed.  In total, there were more than 20 events focused on the Grow your own Food theme, educating more than 300 community members.

This is the third Search for Excellence Award presented to the New Castle County Master Gardeners at the International Master Gardener Conference in just four years.


Week of Oct. 24: Food Day events

October 22, 2011 under CANR News, Events

The University of Delaware community is invited to join the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Food Science Club, Dining Services, Food Bank of Delawareand millions of Americans in celebration of national Food Day on Monday, Oct. 24.

Food Day is a national campaign to draw attention to celebrate healthy, affordable foods produced in a humane, sustainable way and to fix the food system by:

  • Reducing obesity and diet-related disease by promoting safe, healthy foods.
  • Supporting sustainable family farms and cutting subsides to huge agribusiness.
  • Ending urban and rural “food deserts” by providing access to healthy foods.
  • Protecting the environment and farm animals by reforming factory farms.
  • Promoting children’s health by curbing junk-food marketing aimed at kids.
  • Obtaining fair wages for all workers in the food system.

The Food Science Club will host two events on Monday, Oct. 24.  From 12:30-2:30 p.m., club members will be at Trabant University Center with information about Food Day’s mission, signing up students to volunteer with the Food Bank of Delaware.

Also on Monday, from 5:30-7 p.m. in the Townsend Hall Commons, the Food Science Club and other food-related clubs at UD will host a panel discussion about important food related issues.  After the discussion, participants will be invited to stay and carve local pumpkins and enjoy local UDairy Creamery ice cream. Participants are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to the event to donate to the Food Bank of Delaware.

In addition, throughout the week, bins will be available at all residential dining halls for students to drop off non-perishable food items for the Food Bank of Delaware.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, UD Dining Services will host Local Garden Harvest dinners in Kent, Pencader, Russell and Rodney dining halls from 5-7:30 p.m. featuring local and sustainable ingredients.

The UD Dining Services menu for the Local Garden Harvest dinner includes:

  • Butternut squash and apple soup made with locally grown butternut squash, roasted and blended with apples and farm fresh cream.
  • Chicken, potato and kale soup made with locally grown kale served in a tomato base soup.
  • Carved apple glazed pork loin served with a side of caramel apple bread pudding.
  • Monterey Aquarium Seafood Watch approved flounder seasoned and encrusted, served with sweet and tangy cabbage slaw and fresh Old Bay chips.
  • Homemade herb infused biscuits topped with exotic local mushroom ragout.
  • Zucchini, squash and onion sauté.
  • Locally grown, baked sweet potatoes with toppings (honey butter, cinnamon and sugar, marshmallows).
  • Chicken and waffles drizzled with UD’s own farm fresh Dare to Bee honey.
  • Organic whole wheat pasta served in a light tomato sauce.
  • Bacon, apple and cheddar panini on eight-grain sliced bread.
  • Succotash salad.
  • Mixed green salad with apples, cranberries and candied pecans topped with a Chaddsford Winery vinaigrette.
  • Assorted dinner rolls.
  • Gooey pumpkin cake.
  • Cranberry and apple strudel with maple glaze.
  • UDairy Creamery taste testing (and voting) of final two contest flavors: Blue Hen Tracks and All Nighter.
  • UDairy Creamery Pumpkin Roll ice cream.
  • Spiced hot apple cider.

Sponsored by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, Food Day is sponsored nationally by more than 50 organizations including Slow Food USA, the Sierra Club, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and the National Farmers Market Coalition.

View this article on UDaily.


Bringing the harvest home

July 13, 2011 under CANR News

Volunteers spent the morning of July 12 harvesting a cornucopia of fresh peppers, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, tomatillos and more from the University of Delaware’s Garden for the Community. Once they finished harvesting the Food Bank of Delaware’s mobile pantry truck was loaded and headed to Sparrow Run Park in Bear where volunteers distributed fresh produce, 30-pound meal boxes, chicken, fresh bread and other food items to 387 individuals.

“Working with the food bank’s mobile pantry allows our volunteers to experience theresult of their hard work in the garden and connect with the community,” said Dr. Tom Sims, University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) Deputy Dean.  “Our students not only gain valuable lessons in what it takes to produce food, they start on a path of service.”

“We are incredibly fortunate to have a steady stream of fresh, locally-grown produce from the University of Delaware’s Garden for the Community,” said our President and CEO, Patricia Beebe. “Because of the garden and other local partners we are able to provide families with healthy foods that they otherwise may not be able to afford.”

Renee Connor, a University of Delaware student and intern for the Garden for the Community said that contributing fresh produce to our  mobile pantry is important because it provides those in need with healthy foods. “Obviously feeding people in need is an important part, but it’s also important to give families healthier food, like fresh-picked produce. We’re giving them basil, peppers, eggplant, okra, squash, zucchini and tomatoes,” she said. “The partnership is a good way for people in the community to get involved and do something helpful for people who are in need of assistance.”

Through the mobile pantry program, a  truck travels to an underserved area during hours when clients find it easier to receive assistance. Thirty-pound meal boxes filled with enough nutritious food to feed four people for up to five meals are distributed.

For more information about the Garden for the Community efforts visit

To celebrate the bounty of the Garden for the Community, in partnership with our friends at the Food Bank, we will hold our third annual Evening in the Garden event on Thursday, August 11 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The event will be held outside the garden. Tickets are $40/person. The price includes dinner, wine and entertainment. For more information or to attend the event, please visit

For photos of the event please click here.


A UDairy farewell

June 13, 2011 under CANR News

Graduation day was a bittersweet ending for Rachael Dubinsky and Amanda Prudente. The day marked a great milestone in their academic careers, but also meant that their time as student managers at the UDairy Creamery was coming to a close.

Both Dubinsky and Prudente played a pivotal role in the plans for and development of the creamery. Now, as graduates of the University of Delaware College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), they have positions that fall directly in line with what they learned as student managers.

Dubinsky, who served as the creamery’s communications manager, graduated with a dual degree in agriculture and natural resources and interpersonal communication, with minors in food science and food and agribusiness marketing and management. In her time at UD, she was a member of the UD Color Guard, the Food Science Club, Sigma Alpha (the professional agriculture sorority), and gave tours to prospective students and families as an Ag Ambassador.

In her role as the communications manager, Dubinsky was responsible for promoting the creamery to the University and Newark community, as well as developing marketing plans for the future of the business.

Using her skills and knowledge in both agriculture and communications to educate others about the “cow to cone” process, Dubinsky stated, “Not only was it exciting to see this project come to fruition but by being on the management team, I really do feel as though I have left my mark here at UD”.

Dubinsky is staying on at CANR as the special assistant to the deputy dean. In this position, she will continue to work on public relations and advertising ventures for the creamery.

Prudente served as the dairy and food science manager for the creamery and is now pursuing a career as a flavor technician at David Michael and Co. in Philadelphia. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in food science, with minors in chemistry and food and agribusiness marketing and management. In addition, she served as the vice president of the Food Science Club, was a member of the Delaware Repertory Dance Company and was an Ag Ambassador.

As the dairy and food science manager, Prudente was responsible for securing health permits for events and ordering supplies for the store. Prudente was integral in making the creamery’s first batch of ice cream with the new equipment and also used her food science knowledge to create herb-themed ice cream toppings for the annual “Spring Fling” event in March, which celebrates the Garden for the Community, a partnership between the CANR and the Food Bank of Delaware. Prudente’s unique background in both food science and business management has prepared her for a successful career in the flavor industry.

She said, “I really think this position helped merge both my science and business interests.  Ultimately, I was able to apply the things I learned in the classroom to a real world business setting.”

The creamery had many milestones this past year, including the construction of the storefront and the ribbon cutting ceremony on Ag Day. Dubinsky and Prudente were able to use their internship experience to hone in on their individual strengths and ultimately play an integral role in the development and success of the creamery.

To learn more about the creamery student managers, visit the UDairy Creamery website.

This summer, the creamery is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. And, don’t forget to “like” UDairy Creamery on Facebook for information on upcoming events and special promotions.

This article can also be viewed online on UDaily.

Article by Jenna Byers

Photo by Danielle Quigley



UD Research Magazine online

May 18, 2011 under CANR News

The latest issue of UD Research is now available online.  This issue’s theme “building a safer world” features a first person article on the “Future of Food” written by Robin Morgan, CANR Dean, and highlights CANR programs in avian biosciences and food safety.  Limited hard copies are available in the CANR Communications Office.


For the love of limas

May 5, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Pole lima beans are a Delaware staple.

April 20 was National Lima Bean Respect Day but in Ronald Dodd’s eyes, limas deserve kudos every day of the year.

The Georgetown septuagenarian has been growing pole limas since he was a boy and says that his father and grandfather grew them before he did. Dodd’s 55- by 147-foot garden, on land he owns one block off Georgetown’s Circle, features 42 to 45 hills of pole limas each season.

Come harvest time, he’ll enjoy pole limas in succotash accompanied by baking powder biscuits, just like scores of other native Delawareans.

But head a couple hundred miles from the First State, or talk to new state residents, and you may get puzzled looks at the mention of pole limas. “At conferences, I’ve met people in the agricultural industry who have never heard of pole limas,” says Emmalea Ernest, aUniversity of Delaware Cooperative Extension associate who specializes in lima bean research. “But there is a long tradition of growing pole limas here; there is a real lima bean culture in Delaware.

“As a plant breeder, the most interesting thing to me about pole lima beans is that it is still possible to find people in Delaware who are growing local landrace varieties that they have selected themselves or that have been passed down in their families.  For other vegetables, even though there are lots of people out there growing heirloom varieties, they got the seed from Burpee, not their grandmother.”

Lima beans are a big business in Delaware. Limas are grown on more acres in the state than any other vegetable crop. However, the commercial market is made up almost entirely of baby limas and Fordhooks, not pole limas. These baby limas and Fordhooks are grown for processing, which, nowadays, means flash-frozen, not canned.

If you want to eat fresh lima beans this summer, you’ll need to be on the look-out for pole limas at farmers’ markets, particularly markets in Sussex or Kent counties. Or, better yet, you can grow them yourself, suggests Ernest.

She knows, though, that some folks may need convincing that it’s worth the effort to grow limas, pole or otherwise. Maybe they weren’t paying attention on National Lima Bean Respect Day. Or, more likely, they still have vivid memories from childhood of mushy, over-cooked canned limas heaped high on dinner plates or school lunch trays.

There’s nothing worse than a soggy canned lima but these days, flash-frozen baby and Fordhook limas are tasty and have a nice, firm texture, says Ernest.

And there’s absolutely nothing better than a fresh-picked pole lima, she says. “The taste of a pole lima is delicious and the pole lima isn’t starchy, unless you leave it on the vine too long. My four-year-old daughter, Irene, just gobbles them up.”

As an added bonus, pole limas – and limas in general – are nutritional powerhouses. They’re rich in fiber, potassium, iron, copper and manganese.

In her own Ellendale garden, Ernest doesn’t bother growing baby limas or Fordhooks – “I am able to get enough of them at work,” she says. But she has devoted 400 feet of trellis to pole limas.

If you want to grow pole limas this summer, now’s the time to prepare. Pole limas have a long growing season and should be planted between mid-May and early June. Pole limas can be grown on teepees but Ernest prefers trellises because teepees can blow over in windy conditions. Pole limas can tolerate New Castle County’s heavy, clay soils as well as Sussex’s sandy conditions.

Ernest starts her pole lima plants from seed. You can buy seeds online; pole lima plants are available at some independent nurseries and farmers markets. One of the most popular varieties is Dr. Martin, an heirloom that features 16- to 20-foot-long vines bearing large, flat pods. Big Mama and King of the Garden are other local favorites. For something different, try the Christmas Lima, sporting a red and white speckled bean that has a butter-like texture and a subtle chestnut-like flavor.

Pole limas need a lot of room and should be planted four to six feet apart. To keep your pole limas happy, Ernest says to go heavy on the watering and light on the fertilizing. Keep an eye out for spider mites and stink bugs; the two most common lima pests. Pod development should start occurring in mid- to late-August, with mature beans ready to pick about three weeks later. Pods will continue to develop into September.

If you have a bumper crop of pole limas you can freeze them or, like Ronald Dodd, you can give the excess to friends and neighbors. “I have plenty of ‘customers’ who like to get some of my pole limas,” says Dodd. “But last year was not a great season; I didn’t have any extra to give away.”

Plenty of native Delawareans – and Delawareans in the know – will be hoping for better pole lima yields this growing season.

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily by clicking here.




Soybeans vs. Edamame

April 6, 2011 under Cooperative Extension

“What is the difference in the soybeans that are grown in Delaware, and the kind we get from China in the grocery store (edamame). Why aren’t Delaware farmers selling them at the farm markets on the roadside?”  These questions were posted on Facebook from a curious reader.  We reached out to our faculty in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences and this is what we have to share:

Edamame soybeans are food grade soybeans versus the typical feed grade soybean grown in Delaware.  Essentially what that means is that the helium (the eye like structure where the soybean attaches to the pod wall) is black in feed grade beans and clear in color on food grade soybeans.  Edamame soybeans are also harvested when the seed fills the pod cavity while feed grade beans which are generally a smaller seeded bean are allowed to dry to about 13.5%  moisture for harvest and storage.  Edamame beans are often picked by hand since the beans ripen from the bottom of the plant up towards the top so hand picking increases yields.  We tried mechanical harvest of edamame beans in Maryland (and maybe even Delaware) using lima bean pickers but it wasn’t a clean harvest and would need a lot of sorting and hand labor to clean them adequately.  I think Schllinger Seeds down near Queenstown, MD has a number of edible soybeans that can be used for  edamame and you can grow them successfully here in a back yard garden.

So there you have it!  Thanks to Richard Taylor, agronomy extension specialist for responding so quickly.


CANR, Food Bank of Delaware Bring the Harvest Home

August 3, 2010 under CANR News, Events

University of Delaware volunteers and students from The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware spent the morning of July 30 harvesting 1,305 pounds of fresh produce from UD’s Garden for the Community.

Once the workers finished harvesting, they loaded a food bank van and headed to Sparrow Run Park in Bear where they distributed fresh produce, 30-pound meal boxes, chicken and other food items to 715 individuals.

Families received potatoes, okra, sweet corn, eggplant, peppers, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes and basil fresh from the University’s Garden for the Community. The garden is located on one-third of an acre on the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources campus on South College Avenue.

Read the full story with photos on UDaily by clicking here.


UD assists Food Bank of Delaware in fight against hunger

April 7, 2010 under CANR News

The number of Delawareans seeking food assistance is at an unprecedented high, according to a study released in February by the Food Bank of Delaware and Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization.

To assist with the increased need for emergency food assistance, UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and the Food Bank of Delaware (FBD) have teamed together to identify pockets of poverty throughout the First State.

Under the direction of Rhonda Hyde, associate professor of food and resource economics, four operations research graduate students generated sub-maps of Delaware categorizing the food assistance needs of different geographical regions. In order to collect this data, the students used census tracking and the GIS database.

Guang Xiao, a master’s student in operations research, said, “I learned a lot about how to provide sound solutions to real world problems in a managerial setting. After a fair amount of trial and error, we were able to provide recommendations to help the Food Bank create more efficient food distribution patterns.”

With the aid of Don Berry, education associate with the Delaware Department of Education, the student-based team was able to provide a large poster-sized map indicating the number of people at or below the poverty level in the entire state. In conjunction with the large map were a series of smaller maps that gave more detailed information about the specific areas with the most need.

The Food Bank plans to take this information and establish ties with local service agencies in order to optimize food distribution in low-income communities.

Charlotte McGarry, Food Bank of Delaware logistics and program director, said, “It is our goal to identify if there are any gaps in food assistance and, if so, do direct distributions of product from FBD or partner with hunger relief organizations to provide food to those communities. Ultimately, the FBD staff identified the level of knowledge, time and funding to execute such a project was not within the resources of our current staff and budget, therefore, when presented with this partnership opportunity from Dr. Hyde and her students we graciously accepted the much needed assistance.”

“The University is committed to improving the quality of life for all Delawareans,” Hyde said. “This project is an example of that commitment. We were more than pleased to have the opportunity to assist the Food Bank with its efforts to eliminate hunger in Delaware. The four graduate students who worked on this project persevered despite numerous setbacks in obtaining usable data. Their reward is knowing that their work will make a difference.”

This project is just one of many bringing together CANR and the Food Bank of Delaware.

Last year, UD dedicated part of its 350-acre agro-ecology teaching complex at the college as a Garden for the Community. In 2009, the garden produced more than three tons of fresh produce, which was donated directly to the Food Bank.

In March, CANR and the Food Bank of Delaware jointly hosted a “Think Spring Fling” event to jumpstart the spring community garden season. Approximately 100 garden lovers, UD staff and students, and community members enjoyed an array of educational displays and an eclectic selection of gourmet soups and seasonal breads, provided by the Food Bank’s Culinary School.

“We knew that there was a Garden for the Community, but we weren’t quite sure where it was,” said James Stokes, a sophomore hotel, restaurant, and institutional management major and member of UD’s Slow Foods student organization. “After attending this event, Slow Foods definitely wants to get more involved in agriculture side of things.”

The evening was a huge success, bringing in approximately $2,000 and 532 pounds of non perishable food items to the Food Bank.

Newark Mayor Vance A. Funk III said, “The partnership between CANR and the Food Bank is outstanding. These fundraisers are well attended and well appreciated. I would say that this is one of the best partnerships in our community.”

For more information, visit the Garden for the Community Web site.

To learn more about backyard gardening, a wallet friendly way to get fresh produce, Slow Foods and the New Castle County Master Gardeners will be holding a “Backyard Garden: Seed to Table” lecture series May 10-11. These lectures will teach community members how to utilize fresh vegetables in their homes and the best ways to plant and raise a backyard garden. Both events will be held from 6-8 p.m. at Marriott’s Courtyard Newark-University of Delaware on campus. Those who plan to attend should RSVP by April 30 to [].

Visit UDaily for the original story.


Food safety training offered to potential on-farm food entrepreneurs on April 3

March 11, 2010 under CANR News

Dr. Sue Snider, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, will provide food safety training for potential on-farm food entrepreneurs who wish to produce non-potentially hazardous foods in their licensed on-farm kitchen. The eight hour training will be held at the Delaware Department of Agriculture on Saturday, April 3, 2010 from 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Beverages will be provided. Participants are asked to bring their own lunch.

Participants must complete eight hours of training and pass a written test on the materials presented in order to receive a certificate and be eligible to have their on-farm kitchen inspected and licensed.

As a result of training in food safety, participants will be able to:
• Identify potentially hazardous and non-potentially hazardous foods,
• Appreciate foodborne pathogens and understand ways to control them,
• Apply basic principles to reduce the risk of foodborne illness
• Evaluate their plan for controlling potential microbial problems in their operation, and
• Understand requirements of the regulations for farm produced non-potentially hazardous food items.

In January 2006, Delaware’s regulations governing “On-Farm Home Processing of Non-Potentially Hazardous Foods” were adopted. Farmers who wish to process non-potentially hazardous foods in their on-farm home kitchens for sale to the public at farmers’ markets, on-farm markets, or roadside stands must abide by these regulations. These regulations established standards of practice for on-farm home food processing operations that safeguard public health and provide consumers with food that is safe, unadulterated, and honestly presented.

The regulations provide definitions, define operator qualifications, and establish operation food safety and physical facility requirements. Non-potentially hazardous foods include:
• Baked breads, cakes, muffins, or cookies with a water activity of .85 or less;
• Candy (non-chocolate);
• Containerized fruit preparations consisting of jellies, jams, preserves, marmalades, and fruit butters with an equilibrated pH of 4.6 or less or a water activity of 0.85 or less;
• Fruit pies with an equilibrated pH of 4.6 or less;
• Herbs in vinegar with an equilibrated pH of 4.6 or less;
• Honey and herb mixtures;
• Dried fruit and vegetables;
• Spices or herbs
• Maple syrup and sorghum
• Snack items such as popcorn, caramel corn, and peanut brittle
• Roasted nuts

Under the regulations, potential on-farm food entrepreneurs will be required to have eight hours of food safety training and have their farm kitchens inspected.

Copies of these regulations and applications are available on the Delaware Department of Agriculture website:

On-farm kitchens will be inspected by appointment.

For more information, to register for the training, or to receive a copy of the regulations, please call or e-mail Sheree Nichols at the Delaware Department of Agriculture:
Phone: (800) 282-8685 (DE only) or (302) 698-4521