- Author: Rose Hayden-Smith, PhD
Nearly two tons of fruit and vegetables grown at UC's Hansen Agricultural Research and Extension Center (HAREC) in Santa Paula have been donated to Food Forward and the Ventura Unified School District, destined for children and families.
Some of the vegetables – planted by volunteers and farm staff – became available when UC HAREC's farm field trips were canceled due to COVID-19. Other vegetables were harvested from the student farm located at HAREC, a partnership with Ventura Unified School District and the city of Ventura. Kale and lettuce at the student farm were planted by youth from DATA and Montalvo schools.
Every fall and spring, volunteers from the UC Master Gardener program propagate seedlings for schools, bundling them into variety packs of vegetables and herbs, which are given to schools with gardens. Because of COVID-19, plants were given to schools for direct distribution to families. Ventura Unified School District staff partnering in this effort include Kara Muniz, director of food and nutrition services; Ashley Parrish Decker, nutrition educator who runs the Student Farm; and Alise Echles, registered dietitian nutritionist.
Additional fruit and vegetables were harvested from HAREC's citrus demonstration area, the site's educational gardens and the farm grounds.
UCCE's education program manager Susana Bruzzone-Miller said, “We are saddened that spring field trip season is canceled and miss the sound of children delighting in harvesting, sometimes for the very first time. But, it warms my heart that our field trip garden can help feed so many families in need.”
John Antongiovanni, farm manager, worked with the farm staff to organize the harvest. “Working together during this difficult time is very rewarding,” he said.
Food Forward is a gleaning organization that helps residents turn the surplus produce grown on their property into a nutritious food source for local communities. Rick Nahmias, founder and executive director, indicated that the Food Forward Backyard Harvest team remains active, and may be reached via phone at (805) 630.2728 or email.
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- Author: Gail Feenstra
- Author: Lyra Halprin
William Liebhardt, founding director of UC ANR's sustainable agriculture program and UC Cooperative Extension specialist emeritus, died May 5 of complications of Q fever at his home in Davis. He was 84.
Liebhardt was the director of the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP), the first sustainable agriculture program established at a U.S. land grant university, until 1998. He came to Davis to begin the program in 1987; he returned to research after 16 years as an administrator. Previously he was the director of research at the Rodale Research Center in Pennsylvania, an associate professor at the University of Delaware, and worked as an agronomist for Allied Chemical Co. in the southeastern United States as well as for Standard Fruit Co. in Honduras.
A soils scientist who was raised on a Wisconsin dairy farm, Liebhardt focused his research on soil fertility and farming systems comparison and analysis. He was the author of numerous articles and a book on soil fertility and farming systems performance.
Liebhardt earned his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. in soil science at the University of Wisconsin.
Gail Feenstra, acting director of SAREP, noted that Liebhardt helped the program establish itself as one of the leaders in funding sustainable agriculture research in the nation.
“At first SAREP was controversial,” Feenstra said, “however, with Liebhardt at the helm, SAREP supported both farmer and researcher concerns about staying sustainable — which frequently meant juggling reduced inputs with increased management.”
“It would have been difficult to move forward without Bill's valuable and nurturing support,” she said.
David Campbell, UCCE community studies specialist emeritus, remembered Liebhardt's supportive leadership.
“He encouraged us to use our strengths for the program's benefit,” Campbell said. “Having such a champion in place was critical to our ability to work creatively, taking advantage of the distinctive values, skills, and proclivities each of us brought to the work. As SAREP director, his philosophy and values helped the program develop.”
Liebhardt's focus made him a champion of land grant universities.
“I'm a firm believer in the land grant concept and philosophy,” Liebhardt once wrote. “We do the state's business — what the people want, not some other grandiose concept or philosophy. Growing up in Wisconsin there was a significant rural community and it was fairly vibrant and healthy. The concept of a rural community was where small and medium-sized farms interacted around a town center. We've lost a lot of that in the Midwest, but that was the experience that shaped my vision.”
Following his retirement from UC in 2001, Liebhardt served on several research and land trust boards. In 2002, he returned to Pennsylvania as interim director for the Rodale Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to organic farming research and outreach, for a year. In 2003, he received the Seventh Generation Award from the American Society of Agronomy and Soil Science. In 2010, he became interim director for Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in East Troy, Wisc., just miles from his family's dairy farm. In 2018, Rodale Institute honored Liebhardt with its Organic Pioneer Award for his contributions to the industry's growth.
He is survived by his wife Kathleen; sons Karl, Derek, Martin and Steve; siblings Thomas, Janet and David; and grandchildren Geneva, Amanda, Audrey, Adelaide and Gibson.
A Memory Keeper has been set up online for those who wish to post stories and pictures of Bill to share with his family https://www.mykeeper.com/profile/WilliamLiebhardt.
The President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources met via Zoom April 9 as everyone was sheltering in place during the coronavirus pandemic. Jean-Mari Peltier, PAC chair, welcomed the PAC members for their last meeting with President Janet Napolitano. Last September, Napolitano announced that she will step down as UC's leader Aug. 1.
President Napolitano commended ANR for its flexibility in response to the COVID-19 crisis. ANR is “the University of California for large parts of the state and we're proud that you are,” she told VP Glenda Humiston, adding that ANR is performing well under her leadership.
Napolitano thanked the PAC members for contributing their time and advice during her seven years at the UC helm, calling ANR “essential to UC identity as land grant university.” The commissioners thanked the president for her support for ANR. In response to questions about building support for ANR with her successor, Napolitano recommended taking the new president out of Oakland for site visits to learn about ANR. She described her visits to Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Humboldt County and other ANR sites as “eye opening.”
In her update about ANR, Humiston reported that despite the coronavirus pandemic's disruption to public gatherings, all ANR programs are still serving communities. “I'm really impressed with the innovative ways they are finding to deliver outreach,” she said, adding that advisors are adapting, for example, doing ranch visits via phone. Humiston also described the UC ANR Governing Council's tour of the South Coast Research and Extension Center in February to see how ANR engages urban Californians. She noted that a regents tour of South Coast REC planned for April 23 has been postponed until after the pandemic passes.
Karen Ross, secretary of California Department of Food and Agriculture, joined the group to discuss how CDFA is responding to food system disruption resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. “I am optimistic about agriculture; we are so innovative and resilient,” Ross said, adding that she is concerned about funding for UC ANR and UCCE. She recommended seizing the moment while consumers are thinking about the food system to educate people about UC ANR's role.
Building on their December meeting, the PAC members continued their discussion of the future of the commission. They discussed recommendations to ensure the success and sustainability of ANR as well as the PAC.
They recommended the role of PAC members include
- Communication & advocacy
- Engaging as a strategic tool for problem solving
- Being a connector to industry leaders
- Supporting fund development
- Advising on strategy and mission priorities
To make their membership meaningful, the commissioners said they would like
- Greater active involvement
- Knowing they add value
- Feeling connected with ANR and other PAC members
- Sharing critical information
Although the PAC usually meets twice a year – in the spring and fall – the PAC agreed to meet again via videoconference in May or June to discuss and approve the new PAC charter.
Katherine Soule will serve as ANR's new Assistant Vice Provost for Cooperative Extension. She will start her new duties on July 1, 2020, and continue to serve as UCCE director for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties and as UCCE youth, families and communities advisor. The role was previously held by Lynn Schmitt-McQuitty until she assumed the role of Statewide 4-H Youth Development Program director.
“We are excited to have Katherine on the Cooperative Extension administrative team! She brings a breadth of Cooperative Extension experiences and leadership skills,” said Mark Lagrimini, vice provost for research and extension. “Katherine is known for her innovative, collaborative, and strengths-based leadership. She cares deeply about improving lives and working environments for her unit, her community and ANR.”
Soule earned her Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, Athens in 2013 and became the UCCE youth, families and communities advisor for San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties. In 2017, she accepted an additional appointment as UCCE director for these counties. She was elected as UC ANR's Academic Assembly Council president for a two-year term ending in June 2020.
"As the assistant vice provost of Cooperative Extension, I look forward to supporting the development and successes of new and existing county directors,” Soule said. “I hope to promote collaborative, cross-county communication, while focusing on identifying and meeting the needs of county directors across the division. We are all most effective when we learn from and support one another, so I look forward to connecting with academics, county directors, ANR leadership and other UC ANR personnel in this new role."
Choe, Dara and IPM team honored by Pacific Branch of ESA
Choe, UCCE specialist in the UC Riverside Department of Entomology, won the Medical, Urban, and Veterinary Entomology Award.
“Since joining the faculty at UC Riverside in 2011, [Choe] has developed an outstanding research and extension program dealing with the major urban structural pests and related issues in the western United States,” wrote Mike Rust, UC Riverside entomology professor, in his nomination letter.
His research includes exploiting the role of semiochemicals and behavior to control social insects and developing novel ant baits.
“Dr. Choe has been at the forefront of developing hydrogels as carriers of baits to control ants and yellowjackets. Developing cost-effective and environmentally safe delivery strategies has always been a major problem facing the use of ant baits in agriculture and urban setting. His pioneering biodegradable alginate beads promise to be a major advancement,” Rust wrote.
Dara, UC Cooperative Extension entomology and biologicals advisor for San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties, won the Award for Excellence in Integrated Pest Management.
This annual award recognizes individuals who made outstanding contributions in research and outreach in the area of IPM. Dara's new IPM model has been well-received and its impact has been documented in a UC Delivers story. Dara is the first UC ANR scientist to receive this award and fourth from UC since the Pacific Branch began offering awards in this category in 2009.
The UC IPM Almond Pest Management Alliance Team won the Entomology Team Work Award. The team consists of UC IPM advisors David Haviland and Jhalendra Rijal, former UCCE advisor Emily Symmes, UCCE Kern County staff research associate Stephanie Rill, industry researcher Bradly Higbee of Trécé, USDA scientist Charles Burkes and Bob Curtis of the Almond Board of California.
The team encouraged the adoption of mating disruption for managing navel orangeworm, a major pest in almond orchards, especially in the San Joaquin Valley. After they began demonstrating that mating disruption proved to be an economical pest control method in orchards, they saw a rapid rise in growers adopting the technology. Based on a survey of pest control advisers and growers conducted in the early 2019, the anticipated use of navel orangeworm mating disruption for the 2019 season in San Joaquin Valley was 32%, as opposed to the 7% adoption in 2017. Kern County data showed a 26% countywide increase in the adoption of mating disruption from 2017-2018.
For more than a decade, the team conducted research on navel orangeworm, spider mites, leaffooted bug and ants that laid the groundwork for IPM adoption. For the past three years, the team put these IPM practices on display using nine demonstration orchards across the San Joaquin Valley as part of CDPR Pest Management Alliance and Almond Board of California grants.
The UC IPM Almond Pest Management Alliance Team received an award in February from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation and California Environmental Protection Agency
Three UC Davis faculty members were also selected for prestigious awards: Lynn Kimsey, Walter Leal and Robert Kimsey.
The Pacific Branch covers provinces/states in Canada, U.S. and Mexico on the Pacific Coast.