Program Leader: Shuresh Ghimire, Assistant Extension Educator
Weekly Vegetable Pest Alert Weekly vegetable pest alerts focusing on pests, pest management and decision making, and safe pesticide use were delivered to over 600 subscribers via the UConn Extension Vegetable IPM Program listserv from May to September 2020. Starting in mid-July, the vegetable pest alerts were also available in Spanish. These pest alerts are also posted on UConn IPM website Vegetable Pest Messages.
“Thanks to your advice this past June we saved our garlic crop (most of it) from white rot.” Grower comment.
Vegetable Production Certificate Course
In spring of 2020, our Vegetable Program launched an online Vegetable Production Certificate course for the first time with an objective to effectively deliver information to beginner vegetable producers, especially when in-person interactions are limited. The course had seven online modules, each module with a self-paced video, supplemental materials, and a short quiz. This course was designed to benefit beginner vegetable producers with 0-3 years of vegetable growing experience or no formal training in agriculture. The participants learned answers to the basic questions about farm business planning, planning and preparing for vegetable farming, warm and cool-season vegetable production techniques, season extension, identification of biotic and abiotic issues, and marketing. In the post-course evaluation survey (total number of course participants = 23), respondents indicated an average 34% increase in their knowledge from the course.
Mashantucket Pequot Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program
The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and UConn Extension have been collaborating thanks to a USDA Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program to enhance agricultural production, food security, and health of tribal community members. An Extension program involving several specialists in vegetable and fruit production, farm business management, marketing, youth development, health and nutrition, communications, evaluation and assessment is working with the MPTN on their goals. The major outcomes of the project in 2020 are listed below:
- Increased diversity of crops and production at the MPTN farm.
- Improved consumption of locally grown produce by the MPTN community members.
- Improved marketability and increased revenue from farm produce. The revenue from the farm produce increased from $2,600 in 2019 to $5,500 in 2020.
- Improved the storage capacity and marketability of the farm produce.
- Utilized more tools of integrated pest management compared to previous years.
- The MPTN farm is now better equipped to continue production and expand the farm compared to previous years.
- MPTN farm products are being sold at local supermarkets.
“This grant has helped us bring back a lot of traditional ceremonies because we are able to grow these things with the money that we didn’t potentially have before the grant was offered us”.
Jeremy Whipple, a MPTN member.
UConn Team Members: Shuresh Ghimire (April 2019-present), Mary Concklin (2017-April 2019), Joseph Bonelli, Miriah Kelly (2017-August 2020), and Michael Puglisi. Funding: USDA-FRTEP
Soil-biodegradable plastic mulch professional development training
UConn Extension partnered with Washington State University and University of Tennessee to organize the soilbiodegradable plastic mulch professional development trainings to educate extension personnel, industry representatives, and other agricultural service providers regarding soil-biodegradable plastic mulch so they can provide this information to growers. Two professional development trainings were held for agriculture professionals in northeastern US, and for members of the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS). All participants found the training to be informative. In the northeastern US webinar, 27% of participants felt they learned a lot from the training session and 41% learned some new information (N = 58, n = 38). In the ASHS webinar, 48% of participants learned a lot from the training session and 48% of participants learned some new information (N = 30, n = 21).
Hemp Growers Conference and Trade Show
Feb 26, 2020, Maneeley’s Conference Center, South Windsor, CT In February of 2020, UConn Extension partnered with USDA NRCS and CT Resource Conservation and Development to organize the Connecticut Hemp Conference and Trade Show. The goal of the conference was to bring together farmers, agricultural suppliers, and regulatory agencies interested in the hemp industry. The conference covered healthy soils practices, local policy and regulations, Connecticut field trial results, as well as innovative production markets. The speakers from UConn included Candace Bartholomew, Chris Perkins, Gerry Berkowitz, and Jessica Lubell-Brand. The event was a valuable resource for local producers and farmers seeking connections in the state as well as knowledge about local issues and opportunities.
The meeting was attended by 255 current and prospective hemp growers and 32 vendors. Thirty-one participants (12%) completed the evaluation form. Of those that completed the evaluation forms, 82% rated Excellent or Good for the amount of new information they learned at the conference.