Urban Agriculture
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Urban Agriculture

UC Food and Agriculture Blogs

Grow it: Gardening tips and resources

Gardening is fun…and it's an important activity. What we grow in school, home and community gardens can improve our health, and the health of our families and communities. What we grow can increase the resiliency of food systems in our communities. And what we grow, ultimately, can connect us more closely with the earth that sustains us. There are valuable lessons in gardening…too many to list here.

Home, school and community gardens improves family and community health and resiliency. (Photo: Jill Wellington, Pixabay)

Even if you live in a small apartment, you can grow food. If you have a yard, you can grow quite a lot of food. View the transformation of a front yard in an urban area…from lawn to lush, productive food garden in only 60 days. You'll love the progression photos, and the simple explanation about how the garden came together.

Need more inspiration? Roger Doiron, founder of SeedMoney, talks about his (subversive) garden plot in this remarkable TedX talk. Roger created and led the social media campaign that called for a garden at the White House. This campaign ultimately led First Lady Michelle Obama to plant a vegetable garden at the White House. (And it may have also inspired the People's Garden at the USDA, which broke ground on Abraham Lincoln's birthday 10 years ago. Lincoln referred to the USDA as the “People's Department,” so it makes sense that the USDA would refer to its garden as the “People's Garden.”)

Need practical advice? The UC Master Gardener program has more than 5,000 certified volunteers ready to assist if you live in California. UC has also created a California Garden Web portal that provides a treasure trove of gardening resources for all parts of the state. It's not too early to begin planning your Fall garden, and you'll find information about that, too.

If you're interested in school gardens, read this brief history, written by UC ANR's UC Food Observer.

Happy gardening!

Posted on Friday, July 12, 2019 at 9:00 AM

Summer safety: Tips to avoid foodborne and heat illnesses

Happy summer! It's time to get the barbecue grilling and the pool party started. To keep your summer healthy and fun, UC ANR offers some important safety tips.

Check the internal temperature of meat cooked on the barbecue with a thermometer to make sure it has reached a safe temperature - 145 degrees for roasts, 160 degrees for ground meats. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Food safety

Food poisoning is a serious health threat in the United States, especially during the hot summer months. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 6 Americans suffer from a foodborne illness each year, resulting in thousands of hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. 

Both the CDC and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) suggest four key rules to follow to stay food safe:

  • Clean: Clean kitchen surfaces, utensils, and hands with soap and water while preparing food. Wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water.
  • Separate: Separate raw meats from other foods by using different cutting boards. And be sure to keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs away from other items in your refrigerator.
  • Cook: Cook foods to the right temperature; be sure to check internal temperature by using a food thermometer.
  • Chill: Chill raw and prepared foods promptly.

Here are some additional tips from the USDA. Be sure to check out the CDC's comprehensive food safety website, which also has materials in both Spanish and English. For food safety tips in real time, follow USDA Food Safety on Twitter.

Summer also means more outside grilling, which can pose unique food safety concerns. Before firing up the barbecue, check out these five easy tips from UC Davis.

Don't let potato salad or other foods sit out for more than two hours; no more than one hour if the ambient temperature is 90 degrees or above. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Handling food safety on the road 

Before you take off on a road trip, camping adventure or boating excursion, don't forget to consider food safety. You'll need to plan ahead and invest in a good cooler.

Remember, warns the USDA, don't let food sit out for more than one hour in temperatures above 90 degrees F. And discard any food left out more than two hours; after only one hour in temperatures above 90 degrees F.

If there are any doubts about how long the food was out, it is best to throw it out!

Get more food safety tips for traveling from the USDA.

Avoid heat illness

“Summer can be a time for fun and relaxation, but in warm climates, we need to stay aware of the signs of heat illness and help keep our family members and co-workers safe,” says Brian Oatman, director of Risk & Safety Services at UC ANR.

“UC ANR provides comprehensive resources on our website, but it's designed around California requirements for workplace safety.” But, Oatman notes, much of the information applies.

“The training and basic guidance – drink water, take a rest when you are feeling any symptoms and having a shaded area available – are useful for anyone at any time.”

To increase your awareness of heat illness symptoms – and to learn more about prevention – Oatman suggests a few resources.

“Our Heat Illness Prevention page has many resources, including links for training, heat illness prevention plans, and links to other sites. One of the external sites for heat illness that I recommend is the Cal/OSHA site, which spells out the basic requirements for heat illness prevention in the workplace. It's also available in Spanish." 

For those on the go, Oatman also recommends the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) mobile heat safety app.

 

Posted on Friday, July 12, 2019 at 8:53 AM

Can you taste barley varieties in beer? UC ANR scientist wants to know.

Different varieties of hops can be used to create an array of flavors and styles of beer. Does the variety of barley used in beer-making affect the flavor of the brew?

This is a question UC Cooperative Extension advisor Konrad Mathesius hopes beer drinkers will answer on Friday, July 12, at YOLO Brewing Company in West Sacramento.

To find out if barley makes a difference, the public is invited to taste a flight of five beers – four beers made from the specially grown barley varieties and YOLO Brewing's own Chinook SMASH DIPA – then fill out a short survey about what they taste.

Several varieties of malting barley were grown by a Woodland farmer in the same field, under the same conditions, then brewed with the same recipe by YOLO brewing company.

The taste test is part of the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Malt Project evaluating malting barley's potential as new crop in California. Mathesius is also studying whether barley can be grown well in California and which varieties perform best for growers, maltsters and brewers.

“We'll conduct a consumer preference survey to answer the questions: Can the average consumer pick up on differences that come about solely from the barley variety used in the brew recipe? Are there any particular favorites that stand out?” Mathesius said.

If there is a clear favorite among the specialty barley beers, Mathesius will compare it with notes from Sierra Nevada's tasting panel to identify the flavor characteristics people tend to favor.

The beer tasting will be Friday, July 12, from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. at YOLO Brewing Company, 1520 Terminal St, West Sacramento, California 95691.

A pre-selected flight of the four specialty beers plus YOLO Brewing's Chinook SMASH DIPA costs $10.

Sacramento calls itself the Farm-to-Fork Capital. Could it also be the Farm-to-Pint Capital?

Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at 2:51 PM

Outdoor Baiting for Cockroaches

Figure 3. Turkestan cockroaches attracted to spilled food. (Credit: A Sutherland)

Two species of Blatta cockroaches can be common peridomestic pests in California, including the familiar oriental cockroach (B. orientalis) and a relative newcomer, the Turkestan cockroach (B. lateralis, Figure 1).  Adults of both species are large...

Posted on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at 8:58 AM

UC IPM Celebrating 40 Years

UC IPM Staff in 2018 (Credit: Marty Martino)

The University of California Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Established July 1, 1979 with funding from the California Legislature, UC IPM built upon a growing movement to reduce dependence on...

Posted on Monday, July 1, 2019 at 2:08 PM

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