Master Food Educator Program accepting applications

December 10, 2012 under Cooperative Extension

Have you ever heard of the Master Gardener program? While the Master Gardeners offer information about best practices in gardening, the Master Food Educator program is for individuals who have an interest in nutrition, food preparation, health, wellness and the education of youth and adults.  Whether you are a foods or nutrition professional or an individual without professional training, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension educators will provide participants with the information and training needed to help expand the nutrition education efforts UD. The volunteers work in local communities and with organizations assisting with the ongoing initiatives of our organization.

Since the inception of the program in New Castle County, Master Food Educators have staffed educational displays at locations such as the Delaware State Fair, Ag Day, health fairs and expos at schools and businesses. Additionally, Master Food educators have assisted with or conducted workshops or demonstrations on topics such as food safety, foods selection/preparation, nutrition and diet and stretching your food dollar. They have also offered school based educational program and assisted with the development of new educational resources.

Registrations for the newest Master Food Educator Training courses are now open. Programs will be offered in Newark, DE (for New Castle County residents) and in Georgetown, DE (for Kent and Sussex County residents).

Individuals who are interested in nutrition, diet and health issues, want to learn, would enjoy working with and helping others or want to be affiliated with a professional organization are perfect candidates for this program. Applications must be received by January 18, 2013.

Courses are open to the public without regard to race, color, sex, handicap, age or national origin. This program provides participants 30 hours of training in the areas of nutrition, diet, health, food safety, food selection and preparation. Cooperative Extension is looking to those who would be willing to take the course and then volunteer 40 hours of time over the next year. Volunteers can choose how they give back time but suggestions might include assisting with the presentation of workshops such as Dining with Diabetes, Eat Smart for a Healthy Heart, Stretching Your Food Dollar and others or participating in other public programs sponsored by Cooperative Extension.

For more information about this training and to obtain an application please visit the Master Food Educator Volunteer Program webpage, where you can download the program brochures and applications.


University of Delaware to hold Irrigation Field Day

September 7, 2012 under Cooperative Extension

The University of Delaware Irrigation Program invites farmers, industry and the general public to tour UD’s Warrington Irrigation Research Farm on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 9:00 a.m. UD Irrigation Engineer James Adkins along with Sussex County Agent Cory Whaley and Kent County Agent Phillip Sylvester will present the following:

  • First year experiences with Subsurface Drip Irrigation (SDI)
    Tour the newly installed 42 zone SDI research facility and discuss the potential of SDI to irrigate previously uneconomical fields. Join in a candid discussion of the benefits and challenges of SDI in sandy soils and the nuances every farmer should consider before installation.
  • The Potential for Variable Rate Center Pivot Irrigation (VRI)
    Discuss the feasibility, practicality and affordability of VRI as a tool to improve irrigation management in highly variable fields. View a demonstration of the UD 4 tower VRI system and the potential applications of VRI technology outside of irrigation research.
  • Soil Moisture Monitoring as a Tool to Refine Irrigation Management
    View many of the various options to monitor soil moisture levels with a discussion of the pros and cons of each option.
  • Irrigated Corn, Full Season and Double Soybean Irrigation Research Plots
    Discuss the preliminary results of multiyear irrigation research to improve the yields of irrigated agronomic crops.

Directions: University of Delaware Warrington Irrigation Research Farm is located at the corners of Route 5 and Delaware 290 (Cool Spring Road and Hurdle Ditch Road) just 4 miles south of Harbeson. Signs will be posted.

For more information contact: Karen Adams at 302-856-2585 ext. 540.


Sussex County Master Gardeners develop accessible gardening program

July 10, 2012 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension

Tracy Wootten knows all about the physical and emotional benefits of gardening. A horticulture agent for University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, Wootten maintains large vegetable and flower gardens at her Seaford home. It gives her a boost to be out in the garden, re-charging her batteries after a long day on the job.

But she also has seen how the pleasure of gardening can turn into frustration for those with physical limitations.

“My mother-in-law has arthritis and certain garden tasks can be challenging for her,” says Wootten. “And, as my own parents age, I’ve seen them face difficulties in the garden, too.”

Helping gardeners cultivate their green thumbs despite mobility issues or other limitations is the goal of Garden Smart; Garden Easy, an accessible gardening program developed by the Sussex County Master Gardeners.

“I would hate to have all the good things associated with gardening — physically, emotionally and socially — taken away from my mother-in-law or any other gardener,” says Wootten. “Garden Smart; Garden Easy helps to remove barriers through creative adaptations of tools, techniques and garden lay-out.”

For example, the Master Gardeners might suggest raised beds for a person who has trouble bending or kneeling. These beds can be made with wide ledges so that gardeners can sit comfortably while they work or high enough so that they can stand (great for people with back trouble). Table-top gardens and container gardening can be solutions for people in wheelchairs or those with other mobility issues.

Impediments to gardening aren’t always readily apparent, notes Wootten. A person might have trouble with eye-hand coordination or fine motor coordination; decreased strength, stamina or flexibility; poor balance; chronic pain; or increased sensitivity to heat, sun or cold.

Even gardeners without these kinds of barriers can find inspiration in Garden Smart; Garden Easy. For example, people who don’t have yards can turn to containers or table-top gardening. And the program is a source of ideas for gardeners like Wootten who are simply pressed for time.

“Garden Smart; Garden Easy suggests drip irrigation over hand-watering as a way to conserve your energy,” says Wootten. “I use soaker hoses to keep up with the garden when life gets extra busy. Otherwise, I’d be out there with a hose at 9 p.m., which is not the ideal time to water.”

Garden Smart; Garden Easy was launched in January 2011, says Bob Williams, chair of the Master Gardeners’ accessible gardening committee. The response from the public has been enthusiastic.

In the first six months of this year, the program reached more than 600 people through workshops at senior centers, garden clubs and therapy groups, as well as public events such as farmers markets and community fairs.

And any day of the week, visitors to the Demonstration Garden at the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown can learn more about accessible gardening. Free self-guided tours of the garden are available from dawn to dusk.

The accessible gardening area showcases several types of raised beds, including table gardens that can be moved to suit the needs of the gardener. It also features hanging baskets on pulleys that can be lowered for easy reach; containers filled with lightweight potting soil (sphagnum, moss and perlite reduce the weight); and benches placed in strategic spots for rest and enjoyment of the garden.

An open house will be held at the Demonstration Garden on July 14. Master Gardeners will explain how to use modify existing tools, such as using pipe insulation to increase the diameter of tool handles. Plus, there will be plenty of specially designed products and tools — like wheelbarrows with two wheels in front.

“It’s rewarding to hear how Garden Smart; Garden Easy is making a difference in the lives of area gardeners,” says Wootten. “One gentleman sought our advice on ways to get his mother back into gardening after her physical limitations brought on depression. The Master Gardeners helped him modify his mother’s garden and now she is back to doing what she loves.”

‘A Day in the Garden’ open house 

On Saturday, July 14, visitors can learn all about accessible gardening at this free open house.

Plus, there will be 20-minute workshops on shade gardening, saving money in the garden and how to make herbal vinegar and flavored honey.

A plant sale will feature perennials, shrubs and trees. For children, there will be presentations of Peter Rabbit’s Adventures in Farmer McGregor’s Vegetable Garden” as well as scavenger hunts and other activities.

The event will be held from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. at the Carvel Research and Education Center, 16483 County Seat Highway, Route 9, west of Georgetown. For more info, call 856-7303.

Article by Margo McDonough

Photo by Michele Walfred

This article can also be viewed on UDaily.


‘A Day in the Garden’ Open House and Plant Sale

July 3, 2012 under Cooperative Extension

The Sussex Masters Gardeners will host “A Day in the Garden” on Saturday, July 14, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Demonstration Garden located behind the Carvel Research and Education Center in Georgetown. The event is free and open to the public.

Cooperative Extension experts and volunteer Master Gardeners will be on hand to provide advice, resources and inspiration for growing flowers and vegetables, and the discovery of nature in Sussex County.

Other highlights include a plant sale, regular showings of the award-winning production of  “The Adventures of Peter Rabbit in Farmer McGregor’s Garden,” a Demonstration Garden labeled with native and non-native plants that are ideal for Delaware’s climate and growing conditions, free tool sharpening, and mini-workshops on topics such as making herbal vinegar and flavored honey.

For more information, visit the website.


2011 GAP/GHP Training Sessions Announced

February 18, 2011 under CANR News, Cooperative Extension, Events

University of Delaware Cooperative Extension will offer voluntary food safety Good Agriculture Practices (GAPs) and Good Handling Practices (GH’s) training sessions for fruit and vegetable growers in 2011.

The training includes certification issued by the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

According to Gordon Johnson, extension specialist and assistant professor of plant and soil sciences, “For wholesale growers, this training certification program satisfies some wholesale buyer requirements that growers attend GAP/GHP training. For those expecting to go through an audit this year, this program will help you to know what is covered in an audit and how to develop your farm food safety plan.”

Smaller growers that do not market wholesale are also encouraged to become trained and learn about the best ways to keep produce safe from food borne pathogens.

Limited or no wholesale, mostly direct market growers will need to complete only 3 hours of training, while significant wholesale growers must attend 6 hours of training in order to receive certification.

Training sessions in 2011 include:

Kent County

Wholesale growers: 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Thursday, March 3.

Small growers (limited or no wholesale): 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Monday, April 4.

Both sessions will take place at the Kent County Extension Office, UD Paradee Building, 69 Transportation Circle, Dover, DE 19901.

Call (302) 730-4000 to register, and contact Phillip Sylvester (, Kent County cooperative extension agent, for more information.

Sussex County

Wholesale growers: This will be broken up into two sessions. Session 1 will take place 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Thursday, March 10 and Session 2 will take place 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Thursday, March 17.

Small growers (limited or no wholesale): 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Thursday, April 14.

All sessions will take place at the University of Delaware Carvel Research and Education Center, 16483 County Seat Highway, Georgetown, DE 19947.

Call (302) 856-7303 to register or contact extension agents Tracy Wootten ( or Cory Whaley ( for more information.

New Castle County

Small growers (limited or no wholesale): 6 p.m.-9 p.m., Tuesday, April 26.

The session will be held at the New Castle County Extension Office, 461 Wyoming Road, Newark, DE , 19716

Call (302) 831-2506 to register or contact extension educator Maria Pippidis ( for more information.

Trainings are also sponsored by the Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association of Delaware.