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News from the Center

  • grains

    UMass Agricultural Field Day set for June 24

    June 17, 2015
    AMHERST, Mass. — The UMass Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment will be hosting their annual Agricultural Field Day on Wednesday, June 24th from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm. It will be held at the University of Massachusetts Crop and Animal Research Center located at 89-91 North River Road, South Deerfield, MA University of Massachusetts has a 358-acre agronomy and vegetable farm that conducts research on vegetable crops, agronomic and bioenergy crops, organic agriculture and pasture. The farm has a both a student-run vegetable project as well a project that researches cattle, offering students hands-on experience with livestock. Faculty, extension staff, and graduate students conduct applied research and are assisted by technicians, field staff and undergraduate students.
  • Ruth Hazzard teaching vegetable farmers

    Ruth Hazzard, Longtime Extension Educator for Vegetable Farmers, to Retire

    May 27, 2015
    When Ruth Hazzard’s name is invoked on farms across the Commonwealth, the very image of a dedicated agricultural specialist comes to mind. Since she joined UMass Extension in 1989, her commitment to the work of UMass Extension’s Vegetable Program has grown and evolved as techniques and new developments have emerged and evolved as the nature of Extension itself has changed.  During these decades full of change, what has remained constant is Extension’s ability—and Ruth Hazzard’s commitment--to serve an industry with science-based research and education.
  • Board Chair Kent Lage talks wtih Plant-A-Smile 4H Newton Club

    Massachusetts 4-H Foundation Celebrates 60 years

    May 26, 2015
    Since 1955, the Massachusetts 4-H Foundation has been focused and clear about their mission: fostering youth development.  During their 60th annual meeting held this May, a gathering of staff, trustees, volunteers, supporters and 4-H club members took the opportunity to applaud the work of six decades. Board Chair Kent Lage, conducted annual Board business, and then acted as Emcee for this festive event.  Joanne Brown received special recognition for her boundless energy and enthusiasm as a volunteer working with two 4-H clubs as well as regional and statewide organizations.  All five summer 4-H camps were awarded monetary gifts from The Yawkey Foundation. And those who benefit directly from efforts of MA 4-H Foundation were there: participating students. Plant-A-Smile 4-H Club members from Newton wowed the audience with a presentation about their tech-savvy GIS mapping project.
  • Students examine water at MA Envirothon

    2015 Mass. Envirothon winners announced

    May 18, 2015
    A school year of preparation paid off for local teenagers who were rewarded for their knowledge of the environment at the 28th annual Massachusetts Envirothon. They were among more than 250 high school students from 30 Massachusetts communities from Boston to the Berkshires who descended on the Quabbin Reservoir on Thursday, May 14, 2015, for the outdoor field competition. "These teams work hard getting to know their local ecosystems and how their communities depend on them. We test their scientific knowledge, but we also like to hear their stories about how they have gotten muddy, cold, and tired, and otherwise had fun and fallen in love with nature in their neighborhood. The best hope for the future comes from engaged, scientifically literate citizens who care about their communities and the environment," said Massachusetts Envirothon Steering Committee Chair Will Snyder of the University of Massachusetts Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment.
  • 4-H Robotics camp

    4-Hers: Sign up time for UMass Camps and Academies

    May 5, 2015
    Fun and educational! It is that time of year to sign up for summer camps and academies at UMass. Interested in learning about beef or dairy cows or Veterinary medicine? These opportunities are coming right up in June. Spaces are limited, so sign up today! Summer of Science camp with 4 unique tracks will be held June 28-30. These topics often provide life-changing experiences for young people to learn about solar cars, Veterinary science, or how to make a movie or a robot.  All on UMass Amherst campus...to get a taste of their future!
  • Cover of Pipeline Assessment document

    Center Publishes Study on Proposed Pipeline Route

    April 16, 2015
    The Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment has released “A Natural Resources Assessment of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company’s Proposed Northeast Energy Direct Project’s Pipeline Route Within Massachusetts.” The assessment was conducted by a team from UMass Amherst’s Department of Environmental Conservation, including Scott Jackson, Extension Associate Professor, Bethany Bradley, Assistant Professor, and Thomas Cairns, MS Candidate. The authors created the assessment by utilizing a compilation of twenty available inventories of natural resources and environmental resources in Massachusetts, from state and UMass Amherst sources. These inventories were mapped against the mainline route of the proposed pipeline and then the proportion of affected resources was compared to the availability of the particular resource countywide and statewide. This method resulted in identification of key resources most likely to be impacted by the pipeline. Volume One covers the mainline of the pipeline and is now available for download here. Volume Two (forthcoming) will cover the spurs.
  • Research technician and Stockbridge undergraduate, Genevieve Higgins collecting water samples from the Connecticut River in Deerfield.

    In Search of an Invasive Plant Pathogen in the Connecticut River

    April 2, 2015
    In 2013, a two-year study was undertaken to determine the incidence and distribution of Phytophthora species in the Connecticut River Valley watershed. Phytophthora is a destructive plant pathogen that attacks regionally important vegetable crops and woody plants in forest and urban settings. The pathogen is notorious for thriving in wet, flooded soils and has the ability to produce a swimming, asexual spore that seeks out susceptible plants to infect. Under ideal conditions, disease outbreaks can develop very quickly in agricultural settings. The genus Phytophthora is composed of numerous species, some of which are non-native in Massachusetts. The primary goal of this study was to determine if the non-native vegetable pathogen, Phytophthora capsici, is present in the Connecticut River and its various tributaries.
  • 2015 Spring Forum—LAND: the foundation of a healthy food system

    April 2, 2015
    Attend PVGrows 2015 Spring Forum to learn about the role that 'secure access to land' plays in our food system – and how individuals and organizations can work together to strengthen this foundation.  The forum will be held on Wednesday, April 15th from 9:00-1:30 p.m., at Open Square in Holyoke, MA. Like past forums, the 2015 spring forum will include interactive sessions, structured networking, opportunities for collaboration, and a locally-grown lunch. This event is open to anyone interested in and working for a healthy food system in the Pioneer Valley.
  • Dr. Anne Averill moderates Pollinator Health Symposium

    Symposium Provides Valuable Information to Professionals Concerned With Bee Health

    April 1, 2015
    Did you hear the sound of buzzing emanating from UMass on March 26? It was the gathering of over 300 bee-focused individuals from throughout New England at a symposium to learn about pollinator health for agriculture and the landscape. The first–time symposium drew beekeepers, educators, landscapers, farmers and others to a packed full day educational program of research-based information about native bees, honey bees and ways in which to protect pollinator health.
  • bee with pollen USGS image

    UMass Extension Symposium: Pollinator Health for Agriculture and Landscapes

    March 16, 2015
    Thursday, March 26, 2015, an exciting full-day educational program of research-based information about native bees, honey bees and protecting pollinator health is on tap. Experts from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Maine, and the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station will share their expertise and latest scientific research on pollinator health, designing pollinator support plantings, neonicotinoids in agriculture and landscapes, and bee-friendly landscapes.
  • UMass representatives visit Congressman McGovern in Washington DC

    UMass Heads to the Hills (Capitol Hill)

    March 10, 2015
    Volunteer Ken Nicewicz and Linda Horn (Extension 4-H) held annual “CARET” meetings with Massachusetts legislators on Capitol Hill in early March.  The Council for Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching (CARET), is an organization of volunteer grass-roots supporters of the Land Grant University system that meet every year in Washington, D.C. Senator Elizabeth Warren told Nicewicz and Horn that upcoming legislation regarding nutrition would include issues of food security. Senator Edward Markey, Congressman James McGovern and Congressman Richard Neal and their legislative aides each spent time talking with our  delegates about key issues within The Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE).  
  • Co-chairs,Rick Harper and Dave Bloniarz and joined by presenter, Mary Owens

    Community Tree Conference: Preserving Trees and Landscapes in a Changing Environment

    March 10, 2015
    Massachusetts tree aficionados gathered at Stockbridge Hall on the UMass Amherst campus on March 10. Over 200 tree wardens, urban foresters, landscapers, arborists, teachers and others arrived from across the state to learn about urban forestry, tree conservation and the environment. Montessori teacher Germaine Koomer attended with Jeff Esche from the Northeastern Urban Forestry Advocacy (NUFA). Esche, NUFA Executive Director, has snagged two DCR grants which are allowing them to create a tree inventory, a process of tree identification, recording locations, site and tree conditions for the purposes of managing the health of trees and property in Newburyport.
  • UMass Fruit and Vegetable Team

    UMass Extension Fruit and Vegetable Program Holds Annual Advisory Group Meeting

    March 5, 2015
    Mentor Farm growers across the state met on March 4 with the UMass Extension Fruit and Vegetable team to evaluate successes and challenges to their collaborative work in 2014 with Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Members of the UMass team met with 10 farms at the beginning of the 2014 growing season to identify pests and problems and to set IPM goals.  
  • Alex-Risley Schroeder leads group discussion

    State Planning Process Draws Crowd to UMass Amherst for Food Systems Discussion

    February 5, 2015
    Markers flew across flipcharts as a highly-engaged audience of about 110 people came together during a Listening Session for the Massachusetts Food System Plan held on Tuesday, February 3 at UMass Amherst. The purpose was to provide the official planning team a wide variety of perspectives regarding ways to improve the state’s food system.  A statewide plan, incorporating input from stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth, has been in the works since July, 2014 and a draft is scheduled to be ready for review by policymakers in December.  
  • Mass Food System Plan logo

    Massachusetts Food System Planners Want YOU!

    January 29, 2015
    The public is invited to share ideas during a Listening Session for the Massachusetts Food System Plan on Tuesday, February 3 from 4:00 - 5:30 p.m. in the Campus Center at UMass Amherst. The purpose is to provide the planning team a wide variety of perspectives regarding ways to improve our food system.  A statewide plan, incorporating input from stakeholders throughout the Commonwealth, has been in the works since July, 2014 and is scheduled to be ready for review in December 2015.
  • Pat Vittum receives USGA Award

    Pat Vittum Received 2015 USGA Green Section Award

    March 4, 2015
    FAR HILLS, N.J. – Dr. Patricia Vittum received the Green Section Award on Feb. 7, 2015, at the USGA’s Annual Meeting and Service Awards in New York City. Presented annually since 1961, the USGA Green Section Award recognizes an individual’s distinguished service to the game of golf through his or her work with turfgrass. Vittum, a professor at the University of Massachusetts’ Stockbridge School of Agriculture, has conducted significant research on the biology and management of turfgrass insects and the effectiveness of biological-control methods. A recognized industry leader, she is a widely sought-after resource for practical information about turfgrass pests.
  • UMass Extension educators teach attendees about soil health

    Soil Health Workshops Help Growers Learn How to Farm With Nature

    November 18, 2014
    More than 200 vegetable farmers, agriculture students, and other members of the Bay State’s agriculture community attended two free workshops designed to help improve the soil’s capacity to function as a vital living system that sustains plant, animal and human health. Farming with Nature: Improving Soil Health on Vegetable Farms was offered twice: on Wednesday, Nov. 5th in Amherst and on Thursday, Nov. 6th in Dighton.
  • Forester Joe Perry runs tree identification workshop

    Envirothon 2015: High School Students and Coaches Gather at UMass Amherst for Workshops

    November 12, 2014
    There was a buzz in the air as they arrived from Cape Cod, the North Shore, Central and Western Massachusetts.  Planning for the 26th year of Massachusetts Envirothon was well under way, as over 200 students from 23 high school teams across the Commonwealth gathered at UMass Amherst on November 5th for a jam-packed day of education and preparation. Will Snyder, UMass Extension Educator and Chair of Mass Envirothon, said, “The enthusiasm is high this year.  We have more teams than ever before and greater numbers of student participation. High school students and their coaches along with several veteran Envirothon team members (now UMass students), statewide presenters and Mass Envirothon Steering Committee members learned about topics related to chosen natural resources. 
  • Former and current Extension Faculty and staff gather

    UMass Extension Commemorates 100th Anniversary at September Celebration

    September 26, 2014
    A century of community education, outreach and service through UMass Extension was marked at a celebratory gathering on September 26, 2014 on the UMass Amherst campus. Retired and current faculty and staff, students, government officials, community partners and regional farmers gathered for what was truly a “once in a lifetime“ event at the University’s flagship campus, site of Extension’s founding back when UMass was known as Massachusetts Agricultural College (MAC).
  • Screen shot of census web page

    The Agricultural Census for Massachusetts, Demystified?

    October 16, 2014
    Every five years, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS) conducts a census of farming, working to document the facts about every farm in the country, down to the state and county level. The results of the Agricultural Census provide the most complete picture we have of the directions agriculture is moving and the trends that are emerging. Now there’s an alternative way to sample the results. With the help of our colleagues in UMass Amherst’s Department of Resource Economics, we’ve posted our own tables, charts and some interpretation of the results on our website.

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