- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
For contributions that range from working to boost agritourism in Sonoma County to training young “agropreneurs” to expand food production, Stephanie Larson will be honored for her service to Sonoma County's $3 billion agriculture industry. The Sonoma County Harvest Fair has named Larson, the director of UC Cooperative Extension in Sonoma County and UC ANR farm advisor, to receive its 2015 Friend of Sonoma County Agriculture award.
“The support that Dr. Stephanie Larson has provided for over two decades to agriculture is immense,” said Katie Fonsen Young, interim director for the Sonoma County Events Center at the fairgrounds. “She's provided valuable research to integrate dairy and livestock production with rangeland management in the county, helped local producers to improve production and marketing, and developed economic models to document the benefits of local agriculture to our region. She's also a big supporter of our Sonoma County 4-H Foundation and a promoter of the Range to Table program that provides quality meat to the Redwood Empire Food Bank, as well as tax incentives to those who donate livestock.”
Larson is the principle investigator for the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher program, which is training “agropreneurs” to increase food production throughout a five-county region. She is working to develop an “incubator farm” that will provide opportunities for these beginners to learn their skills and increase local food access.
“Programs like this are important to combat the shrinking acreage available for growing crops and the climbing prices of farmland, particularly in Sonoma County,” says Larson.
The Sonoma County Harvest Fair will recognize Larson during a ceremony on Sept. 27 at Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. The celebration is open to the public. For more information, visit HarvestFair.org.
Elizabeth Mitcham, a UC ANR Cooperative Extension specialist based in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, was honored by the American Society for Horticultural Sciences (ASHS) as its Outstanding International Horticulturist.
Mitcham accepted the award Aug. 4 at the ASHS annual conference in New Orleans. The award recognizes distinguished contributions to horticultural sciences for 10 years or more, with emphasis on international activities and impacts.
Mitcham directs both the Postharvest Technology Center and Horticulture Innovation Lab programs. She has helped train professionals from more than 40 countries in how best to care for fruits and vegetables after harvest, to reduce food waste and improve food quality. She has also hosted numerous foreign scientists and students in her UC Davis lab, where her research focuses on the regulation of fruit ripening, understanding calcium deficiency disorders, and maintaining fruit quality after harvest.
The Horticulture Innovation Lab, a collaborative program with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, targets the needs of small-scale fruit and vegetable farmers in developing countries to reduce poverty and improve food security. – Brenda Dawson
Louise Ferguson, UC ANR Cooperative Extension pomology specialist, won the American Society for Horticultural Sciences Extension Publication Award.
“Transformation of an Ancient Crop: Preparing California ‘Manzanillo' Table Olives for Mechanical Harvesting,” was co-authored by Ferguson, who is based in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, and Sergio Castro Garcia of the University of Cordoba in Spain.
The article was published in the June 2014 edition of HortTechnology.
The award for the publication was presented Aug. 4 at the ASHS annual conference in New Orleans.