Unified campus food drive to benefit Food Bank of Delaware

September 19, 2012 under CANR News

According to a recent Gallup poll, more than 22 percent of Delawareans struggle to put food on the table. Only two states have higher percentages of residents who do not have enough money for food.

The Food Bank of Delaware distributed 6.2 million pounds of food last year, providing help to one out of every four residents in the First State.

Many partners helped provide the food distributed by the Food Bank. For example, the University of Delaware’s Garden for the Community — a cooperative partnership between UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR), CANR Ag College Council, Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners and the Food Bank of Delaware — donated 16,484 pounds of fresh, locally grown vegetables in 2012.

While these recent efforts by UD and the Food Bank of Delaware have gone a long way to help those in need, there is still more that can be done.

With this in mind, a new program called Blue Hens CAN has been established, to help the entire UD community join forces to meet the needs of Delawareans straining to afford food.

“Over the years, various UD groups and organizations have successfully organized collections of food throughout the year,” says Susan Hall, deputy dean of the College of Health Sciences (CHS). “Our hope is that this unified, campuswide effort will synthesize all of these individual campaigns and ultimately result in a much larger donation for the Food Bank.”

“Blue Hens CAN is our service mission in action,” says UD President Patrick Harker. “I know this active, engaged campus community — a community that lives the principle of service every day — can come together to help end hunger in Delaware. I’m thrilled that we’re partnering with the Food Bank of Delaware — such a vital organization to so many families — and I’m excited to see the outcome of our efforts.”

“The support we have received from the University of Delaware community has been outstanding,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “We are looking forward to a coordinated food drive amongst all members of the University in order to collect more food for Delawareans struggling to put meals on the table. We hope the excitement surrounding Blue Hens CAN will bring in not only food, but enthusiasm for helping to alleviate hunger in the First State.”

The program, a joint venture between CHS, CANR and the Food Bank of Delaware, is scheduled for the week of Nov. 12-16.

“The plan is that — thanks to the help of UD Parking and Transportation Services — each day of the week, we will have a UD bus parked at a different campus location for an advertised period of several hours,” explains CANR deputy dean Tom Sims. “Student volunteers, led by clubs in CANR and CHS, will be on hand to accept and record donations from various groups and help load them into the vehicle.”

The bus will be parked on north, east, west, south and central campuses for one day each during the week, with the exact bus locations to be determined at a later date.

Prizes will be awarded for participation, and the hope is that Blue Hens CAN will become an annual event, similar to the UD campus blood drive, where groups throughout the university join together to benefit a single cause.

“There is so much need, even in our small state,” says Sims, “and this is a great opportunity for our students, faculty and staff to make a difference.”

Article by Diane Kukich and Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


Natural Resource Management turns out law school students, legal professionals

August 7, 2012 under CANR News

Renee Connor had wanted to be a lawyer since high school and thanks to the University of Delaware’s Natural Resource Management (NRM) program, she is well on her way to achieving her goal. Connor has been accepted into the University of Maryland’s Francis King Carey School of Law.

Connor, who graduated from UD in 2012 with a double major in NRM and political science, said that after figuring out that she wanted to pursue a career in law, she had to decide which branch of law she wanted to study. “When I looked into environmental law, that seemed like something I’d be really interested in,” she said, adding that it made sense to major in NRM to pursue a career in that field.

The NRM program, housed in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, helped Connor in many ways but she said that perhaps the most significant benefit was providing her with enriching and diverse coursework. “I took a lot of classes in different areas,” said Connor. “I took economics classes, science classes and policy classes, and I feel like it was a good major to prepare me for law school because you have to understand a wide range of topics to do environmental law.”

Steve Hastings, professor in the Department of Applied Economics and Statistics and at the Agricultural Experiment Center, said of Connor’s acceptance into law school, “Renee was a very focused student who knew she wanted to be an attorney — she worked hard to achieve that goal.”

Hastings echoed Connor’s sentiments about the plethora of educational opportunities afforded to those who choose to major in NRM.

“NRM is an excellent interdisciplinary major that exposes students to both physical and social sciences,” said Hastings. “It is this mix that makes it a great preparation for law school or graduate school in a variety of areas. In fact, which area to pursue is the hardest decision the students have to make.”

Connor joins a number of NRM graduates who have gone on to law school and become lawyers. Among them is Kristen DeWire, a 2004 UD graduate who works as an assistant attorney general in the office of the attorney general in Maryland. Specifically, her role is to represent the Maryland Department of the Environment.

DeWire said that she decided to study NRM at UD because of her love of outdoor activities such as camping and hiking. She also said that she thought she would be more successful in the policy side of environmental issues instead of “focusing on environmental science or environmental engineering.”

She also enjoyed the fact that the NRM major would give her a diverse group of classes from which to choose. “Being able to do analysis and analytical writing through communications, economics and environmental law classes, and from internship experiences, was really helpful in terms of being able to think critically and analytically about applying theories to particular sets of facts, which is a lot of what legal practice is.”

DeWire added that the science classes she took, from soil science to geology, provided her a head start when it comes to examining legal cases in those areas and the work has proven beneficial when talking with experts and preparing for cases.

DeWire also said that the small classes sizes, the excellent faculty and the “family environment” of CANR added a lot to her undergraduate experience.

Internship opportunities

One thing that Connor and DeWire have in common is that they both took advantage of an internship opportunity while they were undergraduates in the NRM program.

Connor worked at UD’s Garden for the Community, an internship she said she really enjoyed because it gave her a hands-on experience working outdoors.

DeWire had two internships during her time at UD, both sponsored by CANR’s Delaware Water Resources Center. The first involved working on a paper focusing on the impact of a Supreme Court ruling on the federal jurisdiction over wetlands in Delaware, and the second involved her working at the Water Resources Agency (WRA) surveying a stream running through UD’s campus and making recommendations for restoration.

Article by Adam Thomas

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.




UD Garden for Community intern helps others while growing job skills

July 30, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Owen Cass wants to be a farmer when he gets out of college. While most people would assume that’s not an unusual aspiration for a student in the University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, it actually is. Careers in research, agri-business, natural resources management and veterinary science are more typical choices.

What’s even more out of the ordinary is that Cass comes from a suburban background. He doesn’t recall his parents growing so much as a tomato plant when he was a child in Bryn Athyn, Pa.

But this 22-year-old is getting plenty of experience growing tomatoes – and squash, sweet corn, cukes, peppers and much more – in UD’s Garden for the Community.

Cass is a summer intern for this one-third acre garden that produced three tons of vegetables and herbs last year, all of which were donated to the Food Bank of Delaware.

The garden, located on UD’s Newark Farm, is managed by Mike Popovich, a Cooperative Extension associate.

Now in its fourth year, the garden does good things for low-resource Delawareans who may not have the opportunity to eat many fresh vegetables. “We’re so excited to get fresh-picked produce out to our hunger relief partners in the community,” says Kim Kostes, communications director of the Food Bank. “As soon as Owen or Mike arrive with the day’s harvest, we get it right back out the door.”

The garden also does good things for students like Cass, who was eager to show off this season’s crops on a recent 95 degree day. Despite the heat, Cass vigorously strode between the garden rows, pointing out pumpkins he had planted the week before; hibiscus-like blooms on okra plants; Japanese beetle damage on basil; and the “Florida weave” style of staking used on heirloom tomato plants.

(In the Florida weave technique, you drive a stake between every two or three plants and attach a string at the end of each row. You then weave the string between the plants.)

“Even during a bad thunderstorm the other night, the tomatoes stayed upright,” says Cass. “Our peppers fell over but some international students volunteered the next day and helped to get them re-staked.”

Farming requires knowledge not just about combating pests and re-staking plants but also about managing people. Cass hopes to own his own farm, in which case he may have dozens of employees under his direction. This summer, working with 200-plus garden volunteers, he is getting plenty of supervisory experience. A half dozen or so core volunteers show up every Saturday; others, like the international students, help out just once.

“I can’t believe the amount that I’m learning,” says Cass. “Mike lets me make a lot of decisions on my own, whether it’s managing the volunteers or choosing which kind of seeds to plant for our second season of crops.”

“I also get to learn from Extension and college experts,” he adds. “Nancy Gregory [an Extension plant diagnostician] was out in the garden recently because she needed downy mildew samples for a research project. She didn’t have enough in her own test plots but, unfortunately, we had it on our cucumbers.”

Despite a bit of downy mildew and Japanese beetles the Garden for the Community always enjoys high yields. Popovich is the first to admit he has plenty of advantages over the home gardener. “The UD community gets very excited about this garden,” says Popovich. “I’m fortunate to have a steady stream of Cooperative Extension professionals and UD agriculture researchers popping by to give advice and lend a hand.”

“And Owen has been tremendously helpful with planting, weeding, harvesting and other chores,” Popovich says. “He has taken an immense amount of initiative early on.”

“Not one nuisance insect or weedy plant goes unnoticed by him,” he adds. “Owen checks with college professionals — and his smart phone — to identify bug and disease issues. On one occasion, I saw him spend 20 minutes trying to catch a single squash vine borer. That’s the type of dedication I like to see in an intern.”

Cass will be extra busy in the weeks ahead, getting the garden in picture-perfect condition for the Aug. 9 Evening in the Garden, a benefit for the Food Bank of Delaware. Held under a tent, adjacent to the Garden for the Community, the event features fresh-from-the-garden food, fine wine, live entertainment and garden tours.

The meal will be prepared by students from the Food Bank’s Culinary School.  “At the beginning of the season, Mike connects with us and makes sure to plant the crops that the students will need for their recipes,” says Kostes. “This year’s menu includes tri-colored bruschetta, roasted vegetables, salmon with tomatillo sauce, and potato and goat cheese salad.”

Tickets for Evening in the Garden cost $40, or $15 per student with ID. After Aug. 2, ticket prices increase to $50, and $25 per student. Call Kostes at 444-8074 or email her at kkostes@fbd.org.

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


Food Bank of Delaware, UD to celebrate harvest with Evening in the Garden

July 12, 2012 under CANR News

The Food Bank of Delaware and University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) will celebrate the bounty of the Garden for the Community with the fourth annual Evening in the Garden event on Thursday, Aug. 9, from 6-8 p.m.

The evening will feature wine and beer tastings from local wineries and breweries.

In addition, the evening’s menu includes garden-fresh foods straight from the Garden for the Community. The Food Bank of Delaware’s culinary team will serve roasted vegetable salad, Asian coleslaw, potato and goat cheese salad, Caesar salad with shrimp, salmon with tomatillo sauce, chicken chimichurri with onion rings and assorted desserts. The UDairy Creamery will also serve ice cream.

“We’re proud of our collaboration with the University of Delaware,” said Patricia Beebe, Food Bank of Delaware president and CEO. “Last year’s event sold out with more than 200 attendees. Guests toured the garden, tasted local wines and beers and enjoyed a garden-fresh menu. We hope to sell out again this year. One-hundred percent of proceeds from this event help us to provide emergency food to Delawareans who are struggling to put meals on the table.”

“The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources is very happy to continue our wonderful partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware,” said Tom Sims, CANR deputy dean. “The Garden for the Community has been a rewarding experience for our students, faculty, and many in the local community who help produce literally tons of fresh vegetables for the Food Bank each year. In 2012, we’ll expand our partnership University-wide as we work with the College of Health Sciences to lead the first unified food drive for UD this fall, collecting food for the Thanksgiving holiday.”

Tickets for the Evening in the Garden event are $40 per person or $15 per student (must show student ID). The price includes dinner, wine, beer and entertainment.

Ticket prices increase by $10 on Aug. 2.

To purchase tickets, contact Kim Kostes at 302-444-8074 or via email at kkostes@fbd.org.

Online registration is also available at the Food Bank of Delaware website.

Photos by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


UD announces Food Bank effort at employee appreciation picnic

June 6, 2012 under CANR News

The University of Delaware held its fourth annual UDidIt! employee appreciation picnic on Monday, June 4, to celebrate the recently completed academic year. At the event, an announcement was made about a partnership between UD and the Food Bank of Delaware.

Robin Morgan, who is returning to the faculty after 10 years as dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Kathy Matt, dean of the College of Health Sciences, announced a BlueHensCAN partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware.

Morgan said that during the 2012-13 academic year, UD, which already has a wide range of programs geared to assist the Food Bank, will undertake its first coordinated effort. During the fall semester, a Food Bank truck will come to campus to collect and transport donations and UD volunteers will help unload items at the organization’s facilities.

The concerted BlueHensCAN effort “can make a huge impact on the Food Bank,” Morgan said, also inviting employees to the Aug. 9 Evening in the Garden at the Garden for the Community on the CANR campus to support the Food Bank. The college has had an ongoing partnership with the Food Bank through the garden, which produces fresh fruits and vegetables and provides service learning opportunities for UD students.

“We are excited to partner with the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources in pulling together this food drive,” Matt said, noting that the Food Bank of Delaware serves more than 240,000 people annually, nearly half of them children.

Patricia Beebe, Food Bank of Delaware president and CEO, said the organization could not accomplish its mission without the support of institutions such as UD. “On behalf of the Food Bank of Delaware, we thank you so very much,” she said.

To view the full article on the UDidIt! picnic, visit UDaily


Plant a “Garden for the Community”

May 2, 2012 under CANR News

The College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, in partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware and many others in the community, will “Plant a Garden for the Community” on our Newark farm on Friday, May 11th (10 am to 5 pm) and Saturday, May 12th (9 am to 2 pm). In the event of rain, we will plant the Garden on May 18th and 19th. This is the 4th year for our Garden – to date we have donated over 10 tons of fresh produce grown in the Garden to the Food Bank to help them meet their mission – a community without hunger – by providing Delaware families with fresh, local food.

We need and welcome your help this year as we plant this 15,000 square foot garden on our farm and donate all food produced in the garden to the Food Bank (please visit our website for more details –http://ag.udel.edu/communitygarden). If you would like to join our volunteer team and help with the Garden throughout the year, click on the “Get Involved” tab on our website.

If you can provide a few hours to help plant our “Garden for the Community,” please join us in front of the Wilson Farmhouse (directly behind the Girl Scouts facility on Route 896; see website for directions) on May 11th or May 12th. Please send an e-mail to commgard@udel.edu to tell us which date we can expect you. Tools/supplies will be provided but feel free to bring your own.


Stink Bug Season

October 3, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Pull up the welcome mat; they’re back. It’s early fall in Delaware, which means pumpkins on the vine, apples on the trees and stink bugs in the house.

“Last year, I got a flood of calls about stink bugs during the last week of September,” said Brian Kunkel, an entomologist with the University of Delaware’s Cooperative Extension. “Sure enough, this past week, Extension has been hearing from homeowners trying to get rid of stink bugs.”

“As the days grow shorter and the evening temperatures cooler, Delawareans are discovering these uninvited houseguests in their garages, porches and decks, as well as inside the house,” Kunkel said. “The brown marmorated stink bug becomes a nuisance pest when it heads inside to find overwintering sites.”

While merely an annoyance to most homeowners, the brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) poses an economic threat to Delaware agriculture. Fruit crops seem to be at greatest risk, especially peaches and apples. About 18 percent of the mid-Atlantic apple crop had stink bug damage last year, according to the U.S. Apple Association.

“West Virginia apple orchards experienced significant crop loss last season because of the BMSB,” Kunkel said. “Here at UD, we’re doing everything we can to make sure that we don’t see the kind of crop loss that West Virginia had.”

Several of Kunkel’s colleagues in Extension and UD’s College of Agriculture and Nature Resources are researching BSMBs in soybean, lima bean, sweet corn, field corn and sweet pepper fields.

Two of the most active researchers are Joanne Whalen, the Extension’s integrated pest management specialist, and Bill Cissel, an Extension associate who is investigating stink bugs as part of his graduate studies.

Cissel and Whalen, assisted by two interns, are examining stink bugs in conditions similar to home yards and gardens, too. In UD’s Garden for the Community, a one-third-acre plot on the Newark campus, the duo surveyed stink bug nymphs, adults and egg masses on plants commonly grown in home gardens — tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, eggplant, sunflowers and bell peppers. Plus, they’re studying a plot of ornamental plants to see which plants stink bugs use as hosts.

Rutgers University, Virginia Tech, the University of Maryland and the Delaware Soybean Board are some of the partners on one or more of these projects.

Although Delaware has several native stink bugs, BMSBs originates in Asia and were accidentally introduced to the United States. First collected in Allentown, Pa., in 1998, BMSBs have been spreading across the eastern half of the U.S. ever since.

Kunkel said spiders and birds have been known to eat BMSBs (he’s heard reports of house cats eating them, too) but the pest has no recognized natural predator here.

The USDA Beneficial Insects Introduction Research Lab, housed on UD’s campus, is investigating biocontrol measures. Biocontrol introduces natural predators into an environment to control, if not eradicate, the pest problem. But the rigorous research process and government approvals needed for biocontrol measures can take years, even decades.

Delaware’s farmers are asking for help now. So the focus of Whalen and Cissel’s research is on monitoring to determine when to control stink bugs, as well as which insecticides provide the best control.

Field observations in 2010 indicated that stink bug infestations usually start on the perimeters of fields, Cissel noted. “We’re studying whether perimeter applications of insecticides will prevent stink bugs from penetrating the interior parts of soybean fields,” he said.

“In our corn research, we are trying to determine how much damage stink bugs are causing and when the plant is most sensitive to damage — is it when it’s silking, during grain fill or closer to harvest?”

Insect research projects typically run for two to three seasons, and most of the UD studies are in their first year. So it’s too early to discuss preliminary results, Cissel said, especially since the BMSBs weren’t as active this summer as previously.

“We had a really large outbreak last year,” Kunkel said, “but we’re not seeing those kinds of numbers this year.”

Tell that to Kathy Fichter, a resident of Chadds Ford, Pa.

“It’s just as bad as last year and it’s only the beginning of stink bug season here,” said Fichter, who always has a tissue at hand, ready to scoop up stink bugs. “My two sons won’t go near them, and these are boys who like bugs,” she said.

“Our neighborhood seems to be a ‘vacation destination’ for stink bugs. They come here by the hundreds, maybe even thousands,” she added. “My neighbors are in the same predicament. Yet, a few miles away, they aren’t such a nuisance.”

Kunkel isn’t surprised by Fichter’s stink bug woes, even though regional conditions are generally better. “Stink bug outbreaks — and insect outbreaks in general — tend to be localized,” he said. “We often hear of one neighborhood getting slammed while another neighborhood a half-mile away will have very few bugs.”

If the BMSB already has arrived at your house — or you want to make sure it doesn’t — take control measures now. The best thing you can do, Kunkel said, is to seal all cracks around windows, doors, siding, utility pipes and chimneys. Often overlooked, he said, are the cracks that can appear around dryer vents and gaps around window air-conditioning units.

“Try to look on the bright side,” Kunkel said. “Stink bugs that get inside are helping you to winterize your house. Wherever they got in today is where the cold winter winds will, later this year.”

Article by Margo McDonough

This post also appears 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 www.ag.udel.edu/communitygarden.

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 www.fbd.org

For photos of the event please click here.


Food Bank, CANR to offer second annual mobile pantry

July 7, 2011 under CANR News

The Food Bank of Delaware and University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) will hold the second annual Harvest to Home mobile pantry starting at 8 a.m., Tuesday, July 12.

Volunteers from UD and the Food Bank of Delaware will harvest vegetables from the University’s Garden for the Community, located in front of the Wilson Farmhouse directly behind the Girl Scouts facility on Route 896 in Newark.

The volunteers will load the vegetables from the Garden for the Community into a Food Bank of Delaware van, and the produce will then be transported to the Sparrow Run community off Route 40 in Bear for a mobile food pantry. The mobile pantry begins at 11 a.m., and prescreened individuals will receive fresh produce and 30-pound meal boxes of nonperishable foods.

The Garden for the Community project is a partnership between the Food Bank of Delaware and the CANR faculty and staff, undergraduate students and graduate students.

For more information, visit the Garden for the Community website.

This article can also be viewed on UDaily


CANR, Food Bank of Delaware will hold Evening in the Garden benefit

June 24, 2011 under CANR News

The University of Delaware’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) and the Food Bank of Delaware will hold an Evening in the Garden from 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 11, at UD’s Garden for the Community, which is located off South College Avenue near the Girl Scouts building.

All proceeds from the event will help the Food Bank in its hunger relief efforts.
To celebrate the bounty of the Garden for the Community, those who attend will enjoy garden-fresh food prepared by the Food Bank’s Culinary School students, fine wine and beer from local establishments, and live entertainment.

Located on one-third of an acre on the University’s CANR campus, the garden provides a steady stream of fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits to Delaware’s hungry.

During 2009 and 2010, the Garden for the Community produced more than three tons of fresh produce for the Food Bank of Delaware’s hunger-relief efforts. The hope is to have an even more bountiful harvest in 2011.

The Garden for the Community project is a partnership between the Food Bank of Delaware and the CANR faculty and staff, undergraduate students and graduate students. Volunteers from the University and surrounding community help plant and maintain the garden.

Registration for the event is $40 per person. A student discount is available for $15 per person, but a student ID must be shown to get the discount.

Those who attend are encouraged to bring a bag of non-perishable goods for the Food Bank of Delaware.

To attend, RSVP by Aug. 4 to Kim Kostes at 302-444-8074 or kkostes@fbd.org. Online registration is available at the Food Bank of Delaware website.

Article by Adam Thomas

Photo by Danielle Quigley

This article can also be viewed on UDaily