IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS study: “Green Industry” generates nearly $200 billion; 2 million jobs nationwide

Topic(s): Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, Green Living, IFAS, Landscaping, Lawn & Garden, Research

Landscaped yards and homes in Florida.  Landscaping, plants, gardens, neighborhoods, communities, development.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — What economists call the “green industry” – nursery and greenhouse production, landscape services and horticultural product distribution − is bringing plenty of green to a lot of people across the country. A new study by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences shows that the industry generated $196 billion in revenues annually, and more than two million jobs in the United States.

“Our study demonstrated that this industry is a very large employer,” said Alan Hodges, Extension scientist with the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department and lead author of the study. “It exists in virtually every community in the U.S. The rise of large retail chain stores with garden departments has made plants and other horticultural products more readily available to consumers than ever before.”

Green industry products include sod, flowers, bedding plants, tropical foliage, trees and shrubs, among other types of plants. The industry also includes many businesses that provide services such as landscape design, installation and maintenance, plus firms — such as lawn and garden stores — for wholesale and retail distribution of horticultural products, Hodges said.

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Florida consumers prefer “Fresh from Florida” plants

Topic(s): Economics, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, RECs, Research

 

Various Fresh from Florida labeling upon orange juice and citrus containers.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Consumers prefer plants with the “Fresh from Florida” label, according to a new survey by a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economist.

In the survey, summarized in a UF/IFAS Extension document, 83 percent of respondents recalled noticing the “Fresh from Florida” logos on plants in retail garden centers. To be designated as “Fresh from Florida,” 51 per cent of the product must originate in the Sunshine State, according to Florida Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services guidelines.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has partnered with the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association to include horticulture plants in the state’s “Fresh from Florida” campaign.

Hayk Khachatryan, an assistant professor of food and resource economics at the UF/IFAS Mid-Florida Research and Education Center in Apopka, Florida, co-authored the document with his post-doctoral research associate, Alicia Rihn. As part of a larger study, they wrote the document after surveying 301 Florida horticultural plant consumers in June and July 2014 in Orlando and Gainesville.

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Mother-daughter team teaches the art of canning food

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition, Vegetables
UF/IFAS Extension Agents Melanie Thomas, left, and her mother, Jackie Schrader teaching canning classes in Duval and Clay counties. Photo courtesy Melanie Thomas

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As a little girl, Melanie Thomas would ladle hot fruit into glass jars with  her grandmother or watch from afar as her parents canned fruits and vegetables in the kitchen.

“I was one of those who was afraid of the pressure canner and left that job up to my mom and dad,” said Thomas.  “They always seemed like they knew what they were doing and had it under control.”

Now Thomas is a fearless advocate of preserving your own food.  She and her mother, Jackie Schrader, join forces each month to teach canning classes through a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension program.  Once every month, they gather students in either Duval or Clay County to instruct on everything from pressure canning low acid foods, including vegetables, meats and soups, to adding just the right amount of sugar and spices.

Their next class is scheduled for January 22 at 9:00 a.m. at the Clay County Extension office in Green Cove Springs. The February class is set for the 12th in Duval County. (more …)

Two key factors control phosphorus movement from soil to groundwater

Topic(s): Agriculture, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Pollution, RECs, Research

 

Gurpal Toor working in his lab at the Gulf Coast REC in Balm Florida.  UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — New insights into how phosphorus leaches into groundwater could help reduce its potential impact on water and the environment, a UF/IFAS scientist says.

Phosphorus poses an environmental threat when it travels from soils to open water bodies, including lakes, streams and rivers. When too much phosphorus is applied to soils, the ground cannot hold all of the chemical, said Gurpal Toor, an associate professor of soil and water science at the UF/IFAS Gulf Coast Research and Education Center in Balm, Florida. As a result, phosphorus leaches out and migrates to water bodies, lowering water quality and leading to algal blooms. Such blooms can choke off oxygen to fish and underwater plants.

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UF Cattlewomen take 2nd place in online scholarship program

Topic(s): Agriculture, CALS, Extension, Families and Consumers, Honors and Appointments, Livestock

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Gator Collegiate Cattlewomen took second place in the recent College Aggies Online scholarship competition that recognizes outstanding use of social media and community involvement to promote agriculture.

Gator Collegiate Cattlewomen is a group of 51 students in the UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, part of the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. For their honor, the UF group won $2,500.

The awards, announced Dec. 2, culminated the nationwide initiative that helps college students share agriculture’s story.

“After nine long weeks of advocating, and help from all the club members, we were thrilled to find out that all of our hard work paid off,” said Samantha Dailey, vice president of the UF Cattlewomen. “The $2,500 will allow our club to take advantage of more educational opportunities and help our members to become leaders in the beef industry.”

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UF/IFAS scientists find another clue to monitor, trap virus-spreading mosquito

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Pests, Research

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Asian tiger mosquito is attracted to flowering butterfly bushes, giving mosquito control officials another tool to monitor and trap the insect that can transmit pathogens, causing potentially deadly diseases, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.

Asian tiger mosquitoes prefer to lay eggs in containers.

With that in mind, UF/IFAS researchers monitored several sized containers that they had placed indoors, in screen houses and in residential backyards. They also monitored containers placed next to butterfly bushes. They wanted to see where the Asian tiger mosquito laid more eggs. Scientists found significantly more eggs in the largest containers, and they found more eggs in containers next to flowering bushes than in containers next to bushes without flowers.

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UF/IFAS study: Citizen science participation increases trust in science

Topic(s): CALS, Entomology and Nematology, Environment, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Research

Andrea Lucky in her ant research lab

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Lay people who participate in citizen science develop more interest in science after participating in such a project, a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows.

“Participating in science does more than teach people about science,” said Andrea Lucky, an assistant research scientist in the UF/IFAS entomology department and co-author of the study. “It builds trust in science and helps people understand what scientific research is all about.”

Tyler Vitone, a master’s student in Lucky’s lab in the entomology and nematology department, and his co-authors wanted to understand what participants take away from the experience of being part of a citizen science research project. To do this, they looked at a group of people who had limited experience with scientific research: students in an introductory entomology course called The Insects. The course is for non-science majors and meets a biology general education requirement for students across campus, so it includes students with a diverse mix of interests, from art, English and history to finance, marketing and political science. The research team conducted assessments in the fall and spring semesters, from 2013 through 2015.

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Father-daughter duo team up for citrus research

Topic(s): Agriculture, Citrus, Families and Consumers, IFAS, RECs, Research

Jude and Melinda Grosser at his laboratory at the UF/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center in Lake Alfred, Fla.

LAKE ALFRED, Fla. — When Jude Grosser’s daughter, Melinda, was in elementary school, he would often take her to his laboratory at the University of Florida’s Citrus Research and Education Center, where he works as a researcher on citrus diseases and creating new varieties.  In the lab, he let Melinda look at fluorescent proteins from jellyfish, glowing in plant cells under the microscope, and even grow microorganisms in her petri dish handprint.  Now, the 26-year-old is set to get her Ph.D. in molecular microbiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the spring and still finds herself working with her dad.

The pair recently co-authored a research paper on new grapefruit cybrids, developed when the nuclear genes from a ”Ruby Red” grapefruit were combined  with  genes from within a cell’s cytoplasm (the jellylike material that makes up much of a cell) from a “Dancy” mandarin. The change increased the harvest window of the new grapefruits by three months.  This resulted in the commercial release of a new UF/IFAS grapefruit cultivar N2-28 ‘Summer Gold Grapefruit’ that can be harvested into August.  Melinda was working as an undergraduate Howard Hughes Medical Institute “Science for Life” student in the laboratory of UF Department of Horticultural Sciences Professor Christine Chase in Gainesville for her contribution to the project. (more …)

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