UC Agriculture & Natural Resources News
UC Cooperative Extension 4-H and environmental horticulture advisor Rose Hayden-Smith provided information about California school gardens to an Associated Press writer who was reporting on the growing popularity of school gardens in the United States.
The story focused on a concrete schoolyard in hurricane-recovering New Orleans that has been transformed into a garden. It appears that writer Janet McConnaughy was looking for national numbers on school gardens, but noted that difinitive data are scarce. She wrote that the National Gardening Association's online registry lists 1,500 school gardens, up from 1,100 a year ago, and she spoke to Hayden-Smith for information on California's school gardens.
Hayden-Smith told the reporter that California alone had about 1,000 instructional school gardens in 1995 and triple that number by 2000. Nearly 3,850 schools - more than 40 percent of all state schools - got state grants last year to begin or improve gardens, according to the article.
KPIX in San Francisco noted that UC Davis entomologist James Carey told a San Francisco Board of Supervisors committee that the decision by the California Department of Food and Agriculture to conduct aerial spraying for the light brown apple moth is "scientifically misguided" and that there are "other tools" that can be used to control the agricultural pest.
Like paparazzi chasing a celebrity, Bay Area media have vigilantly followed the whereabouts and goings-on of California's newest exotic pest, the light brown apple moth. ANR scientists continue to be a valuable source of information.
Today, the Berkeley Daily Planet quoted UC Berkeley entomology professor Miguel Altieri. According to the article, Altiere said CDFA's plan to eradicate the light brown apple moth “is like the 9-11 terrorist policy applied to agriculture."
On Monday, the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story about health problems associated with moth pheromone treatments designed to eradicate LBAM.
Reporter Jane Kay interviewed Ron Tjeerdema, a UC Davis toxicology professor and a member of the state agricultural department's task force on the aerial spraying. According to the article, he said he reviewed the list of ingredients and didn't find anything of particular concern, adding that the ingredients are found in other products.
But Megan Schwarzman, a research scientist in UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, cautioned that just because the chemicals are found in other products "doesn't indicate their toxicity or their safety," Kay's story says.
For all the latest scientific information on LBAM, read the current issue of California Agriculture journal. The cover story will tell you "everything you always wanted to know about LBAM but were afraid to ask," according to managing editor Janet Byron. Byron wrote a news release, being distributed to the media today, that gives a synopsis of the article's content.
UC Cooperative Extension has every right to claim Earth Day as a celebration of its work. Each year, the news and information outreach office pulls together stories about ways UCCE advisors and specialists are working to minimize the impact of humans on the environment. This year for the second time the ANR Communicators Network joined in compiling stories. The network consists of communications professionals who work in a wide variety of ANR programs, including IPM, Small Farms, Master Gardeners, Communications Services, and campus ag- and natual resource-related departments.
The resulting news tip sheet is being shared with the news media today. The seven stories offer a sampling of UCCE efforts to protect the planet:
Of course, we look for "Earth Day" stories to share with the media throughout the year. If you have an idea or suggestion, please comment on this blog.
Yesterday, the San Luis Obispo Tribune ran last week's McClatchy story about oaks (which I covered in this blog), and localized it for their own area by calling on another UC Cooperative Extension souce.
UCCE area natural resources specialist Bill Tietje told reporter David Sneed that oak regeneration conditions in San Luis Obispo County are the same as Northern California, according to the story. Most oak woodlands in the state contain large, mature trees, but no saplings to replace them. Young oaks fail for a variety of reasons.
"Many times . . . natural or human influences are involved that tip the scale the wrong way, including very dry conditions, large numbers of grazers — native and livestock — non-native grasses that compete with seedlings for water or compacted soil,” Tietje was quoted.
The best way to make sure that oaks regenerate on a given piece of property, he explained, is to gather acorns in the fall, plant them in the winter and water and protect them. Oak seedlings can also be purchased.
Tietje told the reporter about ongoing research at five California sites exploring ways to protect natural seedlings.
“A successful and cheap technique to promote the growth to sapling stage of naturally regenerating oak seeds would go a long way toward ensuring that California oak woodlands could successfully regenerate themselves,” Tietje is quoted in the article.