IFAS News

University of Florida

UF/IFAS Extension to host cottage food law workshop on Oct. 10

Topic(s): Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, Nutrition

Gainesville, Fla.— Do you have a passion for cooking and want to invest your ideas in a home-based food business? The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension offers helpful information at the “Understanding Florida Cottage Food Law” workshop from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., on Oct. 10.

Anyone who is interested in running his/her own cottage food operation in Florida can attend the one-day workshop at the Straughn IFAS Extension Professional Development Center, 2142 Shealy Drive, Gainesville, Fla., 32611.

The “Understanding Florida Cottage Food Law” workshop will provide participants with general information on food safety and quality, product development, and regulatory requirements for Florida cottage food operation.

The registration fee for the course is $75 (If registered by Sep 30th, the fee will be $60). Registration includes course materials, lunch, coffee breaks and certificate of completion. Register at http://uf-cottage-food.eventbrite.com

For more information, contact Dr. Soo Ahn at sahn82@ufl.edu or 352-294-3909.

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By: Beverly James, 352-273-3566, beverlymjames@ufl.edu

Source: Soo Ahn, 352-294-3909, sahn82@ufl.edu

 

UF/IFAS uses wasps to monitor exotic Joro spider

Topic(s): Entomology and Nematology, Extension, IFAS

WASPS (1) black_and_yellow_mud_dauber 092916

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers are reaching out to citizen scientists to find nests of the black and yellow mud dauber wasp (Sceliphron caementarium) – also known as the “dirt dauber” — in northeastern Georgia.

“Mud dauber wasps are harmless to humans, but they hunt spiders,” said Lisa Anne Taylor, an assistant research scientist in the UF/IFAS entomology and nematology department. The wasps capture, paralyze and pack spider prey into a mud nest for their offspring to eat. The wasps build their nests under the eaves of homes, barns and bridges, where they are sheltered from the elements.

Scientists hope to use these wasps to help them track the spread of the newly introduced Joro spider in the area.

“The Joro spider is a large, colorful spider from Asia that was discovered in the United States in 2014 by scientists at the University of Georgia,” Taylor said. So far, the spiders have only been recorded in three counties in northeastern Georgia, but researchers suspect they occur even more widely. To help track the spread of this species, Taylor’s group has teamed up with UGA scientists Rick Hoebeke and Robert Matthews.

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Two UF/IFAS food and resource economics faculty win awards for educational programming

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Crops, Economics, Environment, Extension, Honors and Appointments, IFAS

Tatiana Borisova and Edward “Gilly” Evans

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences faculty in the food and resource economics department have each been selected for UF/IFAS Extension Professional and Enhancement awards.  These awards highlight exceptional UF/IFAS Extension programming, and earn faculty additional funding and program support.

Tatiana Borisova, associate professor and Extension specialist, has been selected for the Wells Fargo Extension Professional Award and Program Enhancement Grant, which recognizes a proposed educational program that responds to a public policy issue.

Borisova, who specializes in water economics and policy, is interested in educating Floridians about water resource management.

“In recent years, changes to water resource laws and regulations have rapidly accelerated in Florida and the U.S.,” said Borisova. “Meanwhile, public knowledge of water laws and regulations is limited. Public participation is vital for development and implementation of water resource management programs.”

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UF/IFAS report: Florida agriculture, natural resources employment up 29 percent in 13 years

Topic(s): Agriculture, Economics, Extension, IFAS, Research

Workers picking and loading lettuce onto a conveyor belt.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — About 1.56 million people worked full- or part-time in agriculture, natural resources and food industries in 2014, an increase of about 40,000 workers from 2013, and nearly 29 percent from 2001, according to a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences economic report.

Direct employment in the agriculture and natural resources sectors accounted for 13.8 percent of all jobs statewide. Employment in these sectors grew from 1.24 million jobs in 2001 to a peak of 1.34 million in 2008 before the recession, then recovered to 1.56 million in 2014, the latest year for which information is available.

“I would characterize that as modest growth in the industry, although the growth rate was higher before and after the recession (before 2007 and after 2010), and ag-food fared much better during the recession than many other leading industries such as construction and tourism,” said Alan Hodges, Extension scientist with the UF/IFAS food and resource economics department. “Growth in economic activity of agriculture, natural resources and related food industries continues to contribute to the stability of the state’s economy.”

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UF/IFAS study: Bringing bugs to the classroom makes everyone smarter

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

The resurgence of the bed bug is also linked to a recent change in pest management programs for other insects, particuarly the use of insect baits and growth regulators instead of sprays.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Through a curriculum appropriately titled, “Bed Bugs and Book Bags,” students worldwide are learning how to identify bed bugs, where they hide out and much more. The program teaches how to prevent the insects, and a new University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences study shows the hands-on learning experience works.

The project started in 2012 in Duval County Public Schools and teaches the public how to know if the insect is indeed a bed bug and then how to deal with it. As measured by students’ increased knowledge of bed bugs, the curriculum succeeds in the United State, Canada, Israel and Saudi Arabia, the study shows.

Public knowledge of bed bugs is critical because the insects are coming back.

“Within the past few years, bed bug infestations have dramatically increased and have created major concern for society and for pest management professionals,” said Roberto Pereira, a UF/IFAS associate research scientist in entomology and a lead author on the new study. “They are thought to be the most difficult and expensive insect pests to control in the United States. By being aware of signs of infestation in our daily activities, we all can play our part to prevent spreading these pests.”

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Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory transitions to new cross-campus management

Topic(s): Agriculture, Conservation, Environment, Extension, IFAS, Research

Seahorse Key lighthouse and marine laboratory

Please see caption below the story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, the UF College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Santa Fe College have teamed up to manage the Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory, an off-shore facility in the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge.

“This collaboration across our campus and between UF and Santa Fe College will increase our capacity for research, Extension and teaching on the Nature Coast,” said Micheal Allen, director of the UF/IFAS Nature Coast Biological Station, a research unit located in Cedar Key, Florida. “Our combined efforts will enhance UF’s impact on the local community and its natural resources.”

Seahorse Key is home to a laboratory, marine specimen collection and a pre-Civil War era lighthouse, which has a bunkhouse with 26 beds for overnight stays. The island is also a field site for snake and bird research, Allen said.

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Gardening as a child may lead college students to eat more veggies

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

Veggies Get Fruved 091216

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. — As researchers nationwide try to get college students to eat healthier foods, they’re finding that gardening may lead to a lasting habit of eating more fruits and vegetables.

That’s a recent conclusion from the “Get Fruved” project. “Get Fruved,” an acronym for “Get Your Fruits and Vegetables,” is a $4.9 million collaborative project among eight American universities, including the University of Florida. At UF, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is leading the campus study. One of the first steps of the project is to better understand what factors predict and influence the health behaviors of college and high school students.

A new study from Get Fruved shows if college students gardened as a child or use their green thumbs now, chances are they will eat more fruits and vegetables than those who don’t.

“This finding is particularly relevant, given the recent popularity of school gardens and farm-to-school projects,” said Anne Mathews, a UF/IFAS assistant professor of food science and human nutrition and lead author of the study.

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Jackson County 4-H member selected as Florida junior beef ambassador

Topic(s): 4-H, Agriculture, Extension, Families and Consumers, IFAS, Livestock

Caitline Caudill 2

Caitlin Caudill

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Long before she joined the Jackson County 4-H Livestock Club, Caitlin Caudill liked to pretend she was a veterinarian, treating her teddy bear or stuffed cow for a make-believe illness or injury. When she turned 11 and got her first real cow—a Charolais heifer—she already had a passion for the livestock industry and caring for animals.

That passion was on full display when Caudill, now 15, recently competed to become the new Florida junior beef ambassador.

To be selected, Caudill had to demonstrate both her public speaking skills and knowledge of the beef industry. The day-long competition included a mock media interview, a product promotion scenario and a presentation to group of would-be consumers.

“I was super nervous at the beginning, but then when I began the competition, my nerves went away because I knew I had to be confident in myself,” Caudill said. “I was so excited when I won!”

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UF/IFAS-led team finds faster, better way to detect salmonella in meat, chicken

Topic(s): Extension, Families and Consumers, Food Safety, IFAS, New Technology, Research, Safety

2013 Small Farms Conference on Friday, August 2nd.  UF/IFAS Photo by Tyler Jones.

Please see caption at end of story.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — A team of scientists led by University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers has found a faster and more precise way to detect salmonella in beef and chicken, a finding that could help prevent major illnesses.

Salmonella is the lauding cause of bacteria-associated foodborne illnesses in the United States, according to the study. Thus, early detection of the pathogen, by a rapid and sensitive test is important to prevent the illness.

In a newly published study, researchers artificially contaminated food with salmonella. They then tested the food samples using Salmonella-specific antibodies combined with a unique signal amplification technique. Their test found salmonella present after 15 hours and removed other microorganisms that sometimes clutter laboratory results. This is shorter than the two to three days it takes to detect salmonella in a culture, the study shows.

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UF/IFAS Extension provides Suwannee farmers with valuable water-saving tool

Topic(s): Agriculture, Crops, Extension, IFAS, New Technology

Citra, Pivot irrigation watering fields. UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham

LIVE OAK, Fla. — During most of this last year, Suwannee County farmer Sammy Starling never had to guess when he did—or didn’t—need to water his corn. With a new smart-agriculture technology, he could access soil moisture readings right from his phone, with updates every three hours.

This information helped Starling determine when to turn on the irrigation system and when to skip a cycle. “It’s a window to the underground world,” he said.

Thanks to a University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension experimental trial, Starling was one of three farmers in the Suwannee River Valley who got the chance to test drive this water-saving technology.

By showing farmers how to use and benefit from these sensors, the trial encouraged producers to adopt best management practices (BMPs) set out by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said Patrick Troy, regional specialized agent in row crops who has spearheaded the initiative.

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