- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Farmers, financiers, people from government agencies and nonprofit organizations who work with UC Cooperative Extension advisors, as well as beginning farmers seeking to contact their local UCCE advisors visited the UC ANR exhibit at the EcoFarm Conference Jan. 24-27 at Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove.
Marketing assistant Tyler Ash apprised visitors perusing the racks of UC ANR publications of the resources available in their home counties and online.
Nearby, Alda Pires, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, and Ph.D. candidate Laura Patterson had their own booth to meet people raising small livestock and discuss their research projects. Patterson is studying pigs raised outdoors and Pires studies farming systems using raw manure as fertilizer.
“Sow Good” was the theme of the 38th annual EcoFarm Conference, which focused on regenerative agriculture.
Outside the exhibit tent, breakout sessions enlightened participants on dozens of topics from soil health to organic production practices to marketing. Rachael Long, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Yolo County, was one of three panelists discussing the benefits of hedgerows. Because hedgerows provide habitat for beneficial insects, fewer insecticide sprays are needed for adjacent tomato fields, according to her study. Long said the hedgerows saved growers $260 per field per year.
For backyard gardeners and urban growers, Rob Bennaton, UC Cooperative Extension urban agriculture advisor in the Bay Area, gave a talk on improving soil quality for growing food in urban areas. Before planting food crops in an urban plot, Bennaton advised the audience members to test the soil for contaminants such as lead, arsenic, chromium and mercury and to map where they sample the soil.
After listening to participants in one session discuss the efficacy of cats for rodent control – orange tabby cats were deemed most effective – one attendee remarked that meeting new people at events such as EcoFarm helps reveal opportunities for UC ANR outreach.
“We are seeking help in this needs assessment regarding animal health concerns on small-scale farms and for peri-urban and urban animal agriculture in California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington State,” said Pires, who is leading the study with Dale Moore of Washington State University and Ragan Adams of Colorado State University.
Peri-urban and urban animal agriculture refers to raising food animals within residential areas with the goal of producing animal products to eat themselves or to distribute locally. The farms included in this study have gross annual sales of less than $500,000 with a maximum of 500 goats or sheep, 100 cows or 100 pigs, or are poultry producers who process or sell fewer than 1,000 chickens per year.
The increasing popularity of local food production and sustainability has boosted interest in small-scale farming and urban animal agriculture.
“This survey aims to identify the needs of livestock and poultry owners related to animal health, animal husbandry and food safety; and the role that veterinarians play on small farms,” Pires said. “This study will serve as a benchmark for designing effective educational programs to train farmers, backyard producers and veterinarians working within this sector.”
The survey takes about 15-20 minutes and can be accessed at http://ucanr.edu/smalllivestocksurvey.
All answers will remain completely confidential and no personal information will be recorded.
- Author: Monique Garcia Gunther
Pires and Michele Jay-Russell, program manager with the Western Center for Food Safety, are co-principal investigators on a project to reduce the risk of foodborne pathogens on organic farms. They would like UC Cooperative Extension advisors who work with organic produce growers to assist the project by inviting the growers to participate in a new survey on manure use and food safety. The direct link to the survey is https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/manurefoodsafety.
The School of Veterinary Medicine and its partners recently brought together more than 30 producers, industry members and experts from across the country to discuss food safety in the fast-growing segment of organic agriculture, as part of a project funded by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). Participants included representatives from the UC Davis Western Center for Food Safety, the Organic Trade Association, the FDA Division of Produce Safety and the Division of Risk and Decision Analysis, the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the Association of Compost Producers, the Organic Center, among others.
Information gathered at the workshop on the industry's use of manure and compost will help project leaders develop a full-scale research proposal to assess the efficacy of practices in the U.S. to reduce the risk of foodborne pathogens on organic farms. It will also help inform and guide policy such as the FDA's Produce Safety Rule that is recommending more research on waiting periods between raw manure application and harvest.
Facilitated by Pires and Jay-Russell, the workshop featured in-depth discussions, surveys and listening sessions on issues important to organic farmers. Topics included the use of raw manure and compost, rotational grazing practices and extension needs including technology innovations and other tools to help them comply with new food safety regulations.
“We need to work together to leverage our efforts to prevent foodborne illnesses in the U.S.,” said Jay-Russell. “While one size won't fit all, organic farmers want and need scientific-based tools to help them adapt to change and ensure food safety.”
This national project is a collaboration with the Western Center for Food Safety, which conducts related research, and the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's Western Institute for Food Safety and Security.
Elise Gornish joined ANR as a Cooperative Extension assistant restoration ecology specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis on Jan. 2. Gornish is interested in developing successful restoration approaches for both natural and working landscapes. She is also particularly interested in studying invasive annual weeds in California grasslands and drylands.
Prior to joining UCCE, Gornish worked as a postdoctoral scholar for the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis from May 2013 to December 2014.
Gornish earned a Ph.D. and an M.S. in ecology from Florida State University. She holds a B.S. in business and a B.S. in English from State University of New York at Buffalo and a B.S. in conservation biology from Hunter College.
Gornish can be reached at (530) 752-6314 and email@example.com.
Clare Gupta joined ANR as a Cooperative Extension assistant public policy specialist in the Department of Human Ecology at UC Davis on March 2.
Trained as a political ecologist with a background in the natural sciences, Gupta studies how environmental and agricultural policy affect community food systems, and how citizens and community groups can shape these policies. She intends to work with UCCE advisors, fellow specialists, other UC academics and community groups to design research that elucidates how emerging state agricultural policies (e.g. urban agriculture zoning, community-supported agriculture bill, farmworker protections, proposed water bond) impact community food systems — especially from the perspective of small-scale producers. Gupta also envisions designing research questions that help state departments and boards to implement new agricultural policies in context-appropriate ways. Overall, her work aims to leverage scholarship on the concerns of California communities into data-driven public policy.
Prior to joining UCCE, Gupta served as a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. In this position, she studied efforts to re-localize Hawaii's food system, from a combined political and industrial ecological approach. Her dissertation work examined the impact of wildlife conservation on the livelihoods of rural communities living near protected areas in Botswana.
Gupta earned a Ph.D. in environmental science, policy and management from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in biology from Dartmouth College.
Gupta can be reached at (650) 766-7610 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alda Pires joined UCCE on Sept. 1 as an ANR Cooperative Extension specialist and epidemiologist in the Agricultural Experiment Station for urban agriculture and food safety in the Department of Population Health and Reproduction, Veterinary Medicine Extension at UC Davis.
Pires, who is fluent in Portuguese, focuses her research and extension on disease surveillance, food safety, public health, foodborne and zoonotic diseases and epidemiology of infectious diseases, including Salmonella shedding and persistence in swine and cattle.
The goals of her programs are to identify mitigation strategies that can reduce the dissemination of foodborne pathogens during the preharvest period on small-scale farms. She is interested in developing and applying epidemiological tools, such as temporal-spatial analysis, molecular analysis and risk assessment in support of risk-based surveillance, infectious disease control strategies and the improvement animal health and food safety.
She earned her DVM from Universidade de Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro in Portugal, and completed her Master of Preventive Veterinary Medicine and her residency program in Food Animal Reproduction and Herd Health at UC Davis. Pires then moved to Michigan State University where she undertook graduate studies with an emphasis in veterinary epidemiology. She received her Ph.D. from Michigan State University, studying environmental factors that influence the shedding of Salmonella sp in growing pigs.
Pires is based at UC Davis and can be reached at (530) 754-9855 and email@example.com.
Carl Winter will be joining ANR Program Council, beginning with the June meeting. Winter is a Cooperative Extension specialist located in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis. He is filling one of the two at-large seats, succeeding Steve Wright, CE advisor in Tulare and Kings County. Winter will bring a CE specialist perspective and provide food-safety expertise to the discussions. The ANR Program Council advises the Vice President on Divisionwide planning and delivery of programs and develops recommendations for allocation of Division resources.
Winter is a food toxicologist located at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science on the UC Davis campus. He is the director of the FoodSafe Program and is a member of the Food Safety Workgroup. Prior to coming to UC Davis in 1991, he was a Cooperative Extension toxicologist at UC Riverside from 1987 to 1991 and science writer for the Richmond-Times Dispatch newspaper in 1985. He holds a Ph.D. in agricultural and environmental chemistry and a B.S. in environmental toxicology, both from UC Davis. His research and outreach work focus on pesticide residues and naturally occurring toxins in foods, food chemical and microbiological risk assessment, and food-safety education using music.
“We look forward to his many talents,” said Bill Frost, associate vice president and Program Council chair. “He is known as the “Elvis of E. coli” and the “Sinatra of Salmonella,” and has been providing entertaining, educational and humorous presentations for a wide variety of clients over the past two decades.”
For more information about Winter, visit his website http://carlwinter.com. To see the Program Council roster, visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/Divisionwide_Programs/Program_Council.
Two UC communicators win ACE awards
Two communicators affiliated with the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences have won a total of five awards from the international Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE).
Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, won a gold award in “Writing for Newspapers,” a silver award in “Writing for the Web” and two bronze awards for her photographs, one of them a feature photo and the other a service photo.
Nelson and Keatley Garvey will receive their awards at the annual ACE conference, set for June 8-11 in Charleston, S.C.