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IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS implements the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program this tax season

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, Finances, IFAS

A pink piggy bank set atop a pile of money.  Savings, investment, finances, cash, coins, dollars.  2012 UF/IFAS Extension Calendar image by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Jess Gaylor, a retired Army veteran, saw a sign on his church bulletin board for the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and decided to give the free program a try to file his income taxes.

“It was available when I needed it and the cost was definitely right and it was close to the house,” said Gaylord, who files married with his wife Martha. “I’ve told several people about it.”

UF/IFAS Extension is currently implementing the VITA program in 10 Florida counties to help under-served individuals and those who are at risk for abuse by unscrupulous tax preparers. (more …)

UF/IFAS research, breeding showcased at Flavors of Florida

Topic(s): Announcements, Citrus, Crops, Cultivars, Economics, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition, RECs, Research

UF/IFAS Flavors of Florida 2015

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Faculty from the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences produce some of the nation’s tastiest fruits and vegetables.

Researchers at UF’s Plant Innovation Center breed new cultivars and conduct research to boost the taste, smell and appearance of Florida fruits, vegetables and foliage. But the PIC does much more, said UF environmental horticulture Professor David Clark.

“The big thing is this: No other university in the country can pull off what we’ve put together here, so we are novel,” Clark said. “We cover the whole supply chain, from the conception of an idea to the realization of a product.”

UF faculty, administrators and friends gathered Monday at the UF president’s house in Gainesville for Flavors of Florida 2015, a premier event showcasing the edible research products of the UF/IFAS Plant Innovation Center. Industry leaders, donors and guests savored the sensations of tasty tomatoes, flavor-filled fruits and other Sunshine State food and drinks while learning more about the impact that UF/IFAS makes for the agriculture industry. This is the second year the event has been held.

(more …)

UF/IFAS Extension agents and master gardeners to participate in Florida Agriculture Literacy Day

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Extension, Families and Consumers, Livestock

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — UF/IFAS Extension agents and master gardeners will participate in the 12th annual Florida Agriculture Literacy Day on April 21, when they will read a non-fiction book about Florida’s livestock and poultry industry to elementary school students all over the state.

Florida Agriculture Literacy Day features farmers, ranchers, UF/IFAS Extension agents, master gardeners, teachers and students in Future Farmers of America and agriculture industry representatives reading to students about the importance of agriculture.

“IFAS has been very involved in the Ag Literacy Day, and a good reason for that is a lot of these county offices require them to go into classrooms,” said Lisa Gaskalla, executive director of Florida Agriculture in the Classroom Inc. “It’s an easy, free way for them to get into elementary classrooms in their county and establish relationships with those teachers and students and let them know what Extension is and how it can help them.”

This year’s book, “Drive Through Florida: Livestock and Poultry,” is about an animated truck that takes students on a tour of Florida’s beef, dairy, poultry, swine, equine, sheep and goat industries. The book gives students a better understanding of the breadth of resources available in this state.

UF/IFAS has participated in Florida Agriculture Literacy day every year since it began in 2004 and about one-fourth of all of the readers are UF/IFAS Extension staff or master gardeners, Gaskalla said.

Florida Agriculture Literacy Day is organized by Florida Agriculture in the Classroom Inc., a nonprofit organization that educates Florida teachers and students about the source of food, fiber and fuel by using lessons, materials, grant programs and other projects.

For more information please visit: http://faitc.org/aglitday/.

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By Rachel LaVigna, 352-294-3302, rlavigna@ifas.ufl.edu

Source: Lisa Gaskalla, 352-846-1391, gaskalla@ufl.edu

 

UF/IFAS hosting ONE WORLD summit to address feeding the world’s growing population

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, Families and Consumers, IFAS

A man checks fertilizer levels on a tractor on a farm.  Farm equipment, fertilization, agriculture, food crops.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. —

— How do you address all of the issues associated with feeding the world’s estimated 9 billion people by the year 2050?  One way is to share great ideas and that’s exactly what more than 700 University of Florida students faculty, community members, industry professionals, and policy makers will be doing Friday at ONE WORLD, an event being held by the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Challenge 2050 Project. (more …)

UF/IFAS Lawn and Garden Fest slated for Saturday, March 14

Topic(s): Agriculture, Families and Consumers, Florida Friendly, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Vegetables

Landscaping, ornamentals, gardening.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Just in time for spring’s arrival, Lawn and Garden Fest returns to the University of Florida campus on Saturday, March 14, to offer residents free advice and information to help them beautify their yards.

It takes place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Extension Soil Testing Laboratory on the corner of Mowry Road and Hull Road, in the southwest quadrant of the UF campus. The public is invited to the event, which will take place rain or shine, and is presented by the Soil and Water Science Department, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, or UF/IFAS.

Faculty members from several UF/IFAS departments will be available for consultations at information booths set up under a large tent, said organizer George Hochmuth, a soil and water science professor.

“No matter what questions or problems you may have with your plants, soils or lawn, our experts can help,” Hochmuth said. “Even if you’re happy with the state of your yard, you can probably learn a thing or two just by attending.”

Topics covered at the event will include landscape design, plant variety selection for Florida conditions, establishing new plants, soil chemistry, plant nutrition, fertilization, irrigation, plant diseases, insect and nematode pests, fruit and vegetable gardening, organic production and keeping your lawn in tip-top condition.

The event also offers door prizes and tours of several facilities, and visitors are invited to bring samples of sick or pest-infested plants for diagnosis. Visitors may also bring one soil sample for free pH testing, a procedure that determines the degree of acidity or alkalinity in the soil.

Soil pH testing has been one of the event’s most popular features in previous years, said lead organizer Rao Mylavarapu, director of the Extension Soil Testing Laboratory and a soil and water science professor.

“Soil pH is a very important factor in plant health, and it’s often overlooked by homeowners,” Mylavarapu said. “The pH can vary from one part of your yard to another, and the pH needs of ornamental plants vary from one species to another. You want to make sure you have the right plant in the right place.”

Instructions for collecting the soil sample are posted on the Lawn and Garden Fest Facebook page, http://on.fb.me/1ajNDbB. Tests can be completed for visitors while they wait, but those who plan to stay on-site only a short time can receive results by e-mail. Faculty experts can also explain how to correct pH problems.

For those interested in learning more about pH testing and other chemical analyses, the Extension Soil Testing Laboratory will offer guided tours approximately every 20 minutes. The nearby UF Plant Diagnostic Center will offer tours on the hour, and visitors can also drive to the Natural Area Teaching Laboratory for walking tours of UF’s largest on-campus tract of wildland.

All visitors will be eligible for door-prize drawings, which will happen every 30 minutes, Hochmuth said. Winners will receive everything from free full-range soil chemistry testing to merchandise from the UF/IFAS Extension book store.

Representatives of the book store will be on hand throughout the event with a selection of books, DVDs, identification aids and other items available for sale. Complimentary refreshments will be available as well.

“This is our fourth year and we believe this will be the biggest and best Lawn and Garden Fest yet,” Hochmuth said. “Come on out and get yourself ready to spruce up your yard this spring!”

By Tom Nordlie, 352-273-3567, tnordlie@ufl.edu

Sources: Rao Mylavarapu, 352-294-3113, raom@ufl.edu

George Hochmuth, 352-294-3114, hoch@ufl.edu

UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Eighth annual UF Bee College event returns March 6-7

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers

A bee on a sunflower.  Helianthus annuus, annuals, honey bees, insects, pollination.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s sweetest event for all things honey bee is set for March 6-7, University of Florida officials announced this week.

The University of Florida’s Honey Bee Research and Extension Laboratory has organized and hosted the UF Bee College since 2008 for hobbyists, professionals and anyone interested in maintaining a healthy honey bee population. The event will be held at the UF Whitney Marine Laboratory in Marineland, Fla. (more …)

UF/IFAS partners with USDA to conduct grant workshop to support local foods

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Extension, Families and Consumers

Farmers Market

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – UF/IFAS Extension is working with federal partners to offer a workshop in Miami in April to help interested parties write and submit federal grant applications for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion programs.

UF/IFAS is part of a national effort to train people in attaining these grants.

Workshops are being conducted across the nation, but the Florida workshop will be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., April 8 at the Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department, 3071 SW 38th Ave., Miami. Pre-registration is not required but is strongly encouraged to ensure materials are available for all participants. Please register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/amsta-technical-assistance-program-tickets-15668841928.

With $30 million authorized annually through fiscal year 2018 by the 2014 Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awards grants to develop new markets for farm and ranch operations serving local and regional markets. The Farmers Market Promotion Program supports farmers markets and other direct producer-to-consumer activities, while the Local Food Promotion Program supports enterprises that aggregate, store, distribute and process local and regional food.

(more …)

Sticking with a healthy heart plan

Topic(s): Families and Consumers, IFAS, Nutrition

4H youth learning about My Plate, healthy eating, and physical fitness.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Remember that New Year’s resolution to diet and exercise?

You can increase your odds of sticking to your weight-control plan by surrounding yourself with supportive people, setting realistic goals and logging your activities, a University of Florida expert says.

February is American Heart Month, a good time to learn more about cardiovascular diseases and how to stick with a weight-loss program. One in six people who try to fight the fat actually stay with their plans over a sustained period, said Anne Mathews, a UF/IFAS assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and a registered dietician.

But there’s hope.

“Making any changes can be beneficial,” Mathews said. “Making changes can also be difficult. So if you’re thinking about making a change in your health behaviors, some of the things we know will help are to get help from a registered dietitian or a doctor, get help from the people around you ─ asking them to help keep you more active. Keep track of what you’re doing, such as how often you drink water and eat fruits and vegetables. Plan ahead and problem-solve any foreseen challenges such as a change in schedule. And recognize your successes.”

(more …)

UF/IFAS Extension working to help farmers and ranchers keep it all in the family with AgSave$ Program

Topic(s): Agriculture, Announcements, Extension, Families and Consumers, Finances, IFAS

BartonFamily2

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For Marianna farmer and rancher Ken Barton, the combination of business and family is more than just a balancing act – it is his livelihood.

Barton is 10 years away from retirement, and concerned about how he will hand over the reins of the family business he established in 1979 to his son and son-in-law.

“I think one of the things that kind of sticks out in my mind – what will I need to do to make sure that when I’m ready to retire – or simply have a smaller share and smaller responsibility – how do I leave that to my children without a huge tax burden on them or me?” Barton asked recently. He owns 260 acres and leases another 1,500 to grow row crops and raise cattle. “That’s my concern  ─ that we can transfer that farm and those assets to the next generation without hidden things – things that we’re not aware of that could cause us the most problems.”

Many Florida farming and ranching families face that same question, and that’s where the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences’ Extension program, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Florida Department of Financial Services, are stepping up with a new take on the 6-year-old Florida Saves program. It’s called Agriculture Saves ─  or AgSave$ ─ and it is designed to help farmers and ranchers make that transition from one generation to the next. (more …)

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