UCCE Sonoma County
University of California
UCCE Sonoma County

UC Agriculture & Natural Resources News

A Glimpse of George Compere, a Pioneer in Biological Control

The Bohart Museum of Entomology is featuring a memorial exhibit showcasing a biological control pioneer, George Compere (1858-1928).

"George Compere." Non-entomologists may not recall his name, but entomologists--especially those who study biological control--definitely do. And whether you do or don't, you'll want to see the display featuring George Compere (1858-1928),  at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis. The...

The Bohart Museum of Entomology is featuring a memorial exhibit showcasing a biological control pioneer, George Compere (1858-1928).
The Bohart Museum of Entomology is featuring a memorial exhibit showcasing a biological control pioneer, George Compere (1858-1928).

The Bohart Museum of Entomology is featuring a memorial exhibit showcasing a biological control pioneer, George Compere (1858-1928).

Monarchs: You Can't Save Them All

A monarch chrysalis that didn't make it. This image was taken Sept. 15. Said Art Shapiro of UC Davis:

Monarchs: you can't save them all. It was a dismal year in Vacaville (and other parts of California) for monarch-rearing. Of the 10 caterpillars we collected from milkweed in our pollinator garden in early September and tried to rear, only eight made it. One caterpillar died when a sibling...

A monarch chrysalis that didn't make it. This image was taken Sept. 15. Said Art Shapiro of UC Davis:
A monarch chrysalis that didn't make it. This image was taken Sept. 15. Said Art Shapiro of UC Davis: "The intersegmental membranes are showing. Whatever caused that, it opens the door to severe water loss, so the pupa will probably die." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A monarch chrysalis that didn't make it. This image was taken Sept. 15. Said Art Shapiro of UC Davis: "The intersegmental membranes are showing. Whatever caused that, it opens the door to severe water loss, so the pupa will probably die." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This is what the non-viable monarch chrysalis looked like on Oct. 10. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This is what the non-viable monarch chrysalis looked like on Oct. 10. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This is what the non-viable monarch chrysalis looked like on Oct. 10. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Lynn Epstein, UC Davis emeritus professor of plant pathology, captured this image of the monarch chrysalis on Nov. 2 with a Leica DVM6 microscope.
Lynn Epstein, UC Davis emeritus professor of plant pathology, captured this image of the monarch chrysalis on Nov. 2 with a Leica DVM6 microscope.

Lynn Epstein, UC Davis emeritus professor of plant pathology, captured this image of the monarch chrysalis on Nov. 2 with a Leica DVM6 microscope.

Monarchs overwintering at Natural Bridges State Park on Nov. 14, 2016. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Monarchs overwintering at Natural Bridges State Park on Nov. 14, 2016. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Monarchs overwintering at Natural Bridges State Park on Nov. 14, 2016. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Trying leafy greens from a sweet potato plant

This time of year, it can be hard to resist the pull of sweet potatoes — roasted, mashed with butter, and topped with a combination of delectable treats from maple syrup to pecans to marshmallows. But did you know that the green leaves of the sweet potato plant also have the potential to be a tasty, nutritious food?

In Ethiopia, where sweet potatoes can be a staple crop, UC Davis graduate student Lauren Howe recently helped farmers taste test the leaves and consider this familiar crop in a new culinary light.

Watch a video to learn how to prepare sweet potato leaves:

The leaves of this drought-tolerant plant offer farming households there an alternative — and nutritious — food in the lean season, while they are waiting for its starchy, tuberous roots to be ready to eat. Introducing sweet potato leaves as a food option is intended to help farmers better diversify their families' diets, to include a wider variety of vegetables in addition to staple foods, especially during the dry season.

Lauren shared her experiences in Ethiopia on the Agrilinks website, where she recently won the Agrilinks Young Scholars blog contest with her writing and a short video from the field.

From right, Lauren Howe of UC Davis and Tesfaye Kassa of SACE interview farmers about how they currently manage sweet potato crops on their farms.

Boots on the ground with sweet potato farmers in Ethiopia

Lauren traveled to Ethiopia this summer to work with an organization called Send A Cow Ethiopia (SACE), on a Trellis Fund project. As part of the Horticulture Innovation Lab, each Trellis Fund project connects an organization in a developing country with a grad student from a U.S. university, to work together to benefit local farmers, while building the capacity of both the local organization and the student.

In Ethiopia, SACE helped Lauren better understand local contexts by connecting her with farming households to interview about their current farming practices and the role of sweet potatoes in their diets.

Later they traveled to meet with a group of about 25 farmers in the Ukara community to harvest leaves, cook together and discuss their perceptions of the leaves as a vegetable option.

“We are producing a huge amount of sweet potato per year," explained Feleke Lera, a son of farmers in Ukara. "But before, we had no knowledge about the leaves.”
 
Lauren harvests sweet potato leaves with farmers in Ukara.
 
In Ukara, the group prepared the sweet potato leaves three different ways – sauteed, cooked with corn or maize flour in a dish called fosese, and in a salad.
 

Reflecting on taste tests, new foods, and rural communities

After preparing and tasting the sweet potato leaves, the group in Ukara discussed which dish they preferred, whether they would adopt this new practice of eating sweet potato leaves, how this practice might affect their forage supply to feed their livestock, and what their friends and family members might think of this new food. 
 
"I deeply appreciated how food is truly a universal language and the preparation, cooking and act of eating itself are relatable across cultures," Lauren wrote in her blog post.
 

Lauren's own passion for food and witnessing how food can help build community is an important part of her reflection on this experience:

"This project is about creating tasty dishes to persuade people about the nutritional benefits of a new ingredient. It is gathering families, friends and neighbors to sit down to a communal meal (already a strong Ethiopian practice), breaking bread together, sharing stories, experiences and hopes for the future."

For more, go read the rest of Lauren's blog post and check out her short video too.

Lauren at a taste test in another community called Gurumo Koysha, where farmers overwhelmingly preferred the sautéed sweet potato leaves to the sautéed kale. The activity was intended to be a blind taste test, but Lauren reported that keeping the dishes secret was more difficult to do than originally planned.

Background and related international agricultural research

Lauren's experience with a Trellis Fund project in Ethiopia was supported by the Horticulture Innovation Lab, a research program led by Elizabeth Mitcham of the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development. With a focus on fruit and vegetable innovation, the Horticulture Innovation Lab seeks to empower smallholder farmers in developing countries to earn more income and better nourish their communities — as part of the U.S. government's global Feed the Future initiative.

Past research from the Horticulture Innovation Lab has focused on other leafy greens, specifically African indigenous vegetables, and also on sweet potatoes themselves (orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, that is). Though the program has not done in-depth research on sweet potato leaves for human consumption beyond this small Trellis Fund project, you can find more information about eating sweet potato leaves and tips in this bulletin from the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension, and a wealth of information about sweet potato farming and gardening from the University of California Vegetable Research and Information Center. 

Related Food Blog posts:

 

Sweet potato leaves in Ethiopia - Horticulture Innovation Lab photo by Lauren Howe/UC Davis
Sweet potato leaves in Ethiopia - Horticulture Innovation Lab photo by Lauren Howe/UC Davis

close-up on sweetpotato leaves, stems and plant

Posted on Monday, November 19, 2018 at 9:02 AM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture Health Innovation

New Forestry Advisor in Post

Great to have Michael Jones our new UCCE Forestry Advisor in post! Read more about Michael here:

https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=28679

Posted on Monday, November 19, 2018 at 7:57 AM

Bohart Museum Open House: Bed Bugs and Cochroaches and Pantry Pests

Karey Windbiel-Rojas of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM), plans to wear this cockroach costume to the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on Sunday, Nov. 18, when she will greet visitors and answer questions. An urban entomologist expert, she's the associate director for Urban and Community IPM who serves as the area urban IPM advisor for Yolo, Sacramento and Solano counties.

Entomology, or the scientific study of insects, is not just rural--it's urban, too. Think bed bugs, cockroaches, carpet beetles and pantry pests, among others. Those are some of the critters you'll learn about if you attend the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on urban entomology, set...

Karey Windbiel-Rojas of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM), plans to wear this cockroach costume to the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on Sunday, Nov. 18, when she will greet visitors and answer questions. An urban entomologist expert, she's the associate director for Urban and Community IPM who serves as the area urban IPM advisor for Yolo, Sacramento and Solano counties.
Karey Windbiel-Rojas of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM), plans to wear this cockroach costume to the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on Sunday, Nov. 18, when she will greet visitors and answer questions. An urban entomologist expert, she's the associate director for Urban and Community IPM who serves as the area urban IPM advisor for Yolo, Sacramento and Solano counties.

Karey Windbiel-Rojas of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM), plans to wear this cockroach costume to the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on Sunday, Nov. 18, when she will greet visitors and answer questions. An urban entomologist expert, she's the associate director for Urban and Community IPM who serves as the area urban IPM advisor for Yolo, Sacramento and Solano counties.

Pantry pests include booklice, pictured here in cornmeal. These nearly microscopic insects, Liposcelis bostrychophila, or
Pantry pests include booklice, pictured here in cornmeal. These nearly microscopic insects, Liposcelis bostrychophila, or "psocids" (pronounced "so kids"), are common pests in stored grains. They're usually unseen because they're about a millimeter long--about the size of a speck of dust--and are transparent to light brown in color. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Pantry pests include booklice, pictured here in cornmeal. These nearly microscopic insects, Liposcelis bostrychophila, or "psocids" (pronounced "so kids"), are common pests in stored grains. They're usually unseen because they're about a millimeter long--about the size of a speck of dust--and are transparent to light brown in color. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Next 5 stories | Last story

 
E-mail
 

University of California Cooperative Extension, Sonoma County
133 Aviation Blvd Suite 109, Santa Rosa, CA 95403  Phone: 707.565.2621  Fax: 707.565.2623
Office Hours:  M-F, 8am-Noon & 1pm-4pm

Like us on Facebook: UCCE Sonoma                        Follow us on Twitter @UCCESonoma 

Webmaster Email: klgiov@ucanr.edu