Campus Food Sheds Stocked With Research Excess

Hannah DePorter

UW-Madison student Hannah DePorter stocks a refrigerator in the university’s Student Activity Center with vegetables grown for campus research projects. DePorter founded an initiative called the Campus Food Shed that aims to find a better use for the surplus produce faculty and students grow as part of their agriculture research. Photo by John Hart, State Journal

When Hannah DePorter’s plant breeding and genetics lab at UW-Madison grows beets, only a fraction of what the students harvest winds up being used for research.

Some of the rest goes to local food pantries and to students such as DePorter, who takes beets home to cook and give to friends. But there’s always plenty left over.

“So many of the beets were left in the field to compost,” she said.

DePorter, who will be a senior this fall, wants to change that, so she has started a new program that aims to address twin problems: The food waste that occurs when researchers in agriculture programs throw out or compost the excess produce they grow and the food insecurity that leaves some low-income college students hungry.

Her solution is called the Campus Food Shed, and it will take the form of four refrigerators stationed around UW-Madison that will be stocked with left-over produce for anyone who needs or wants free, nutritious and locally grown fruits and vegetables.

The first location opened in the Student Activity Center on Friday.

In an interesting juxtaposition, the refrigerator sits right next to a bank of vending machines — giving students a choice, DePorter said, between “fresh vegetables for free” and “processed foods that cost money.”

There should be plenty of produce to supply the refrigerators. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences alone has a dozen research stations around Wisconsin where faculty grow crops. F.H. King Students for Sustainable Agriculture, a campus group DePorter is a member of, also has a two-acre plot, and researchers grow produce on space they rent from private farms as well.

The needs of research projects vary, said Irwin Goldman, a professor in the Department of Horticulture, but in some cases they only require half of what fields produce, if not less.

Without a formal system for what’s left over, researchers often just leave piles of free produce on tables in the halls of the Horticulture Building, Goldman said.

He credited DePorter for saying, “Let’s do something with this.”

Goldman said six researchers have signed on to contribute their crops to the Campus Food Shed, and he and DePorter are looking for others who will join the effort.

‘Great, local food’

Along with the Student Activity Center, on the third floor of 333 East Campus Mall, refrigerators will be stationed in Science Hall, 550 N. Park St.; Moore Hall, 1575 Linden Drive; and the Allen Centennial Garden, 620 Babcock Drive.Campus Food Shed,

Labels will tell visitors what the food is and when it was picked, DePorter said, and volunteers will make the rounds to toss any produce that goes bad.

The refrigerators are open whenever the campus buildings are, and are available to students or anyone else who wants the free produce, she said. There’s no limit to what people can take, and the new initiative won’t reduce how much produce goes to local food pantries, DePorter said.

“We’re hoping that this reaches as many people as possible,” she said.

The fact that they are stocked with locally grown produce means the fridges won’t have much to offer when they first open, since it’s still early in Wisconsin’s growing season, and will probably be less full during the depths of winter.

But organizers say the produce will provide a source of free and healthy food on a campus in which students have directed more attention to the plight of less wealthy peers who sometimes struggle to find enough to eat. A campus food pantry, The Open Seat, opened last year on a floor above the first Campus Food Shed refrigerator.

“It’s relatively small,” Goldman said of the effort, “but it’s great, local food.”

 Story Source:  Wisconsin State Journal, June 17, 2017

IPM and NPM Programs Honored for Display

John Shutske, Wisconsin Farm Technology Days Board chair, presents the 2016 Donald R. Peterson Award to Roger Schmidt and Mimi Broeske.

It’s not often that people can have their picture taken with a ten foot tall goat or be able to pose in a pen with pigs and not get dirty, but it was possible for people who visited the University of Wisconsin Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and Nutrient Management Programs (NPM) booth at the 2016 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.

Using an iPad and some creativity to run a photo booth where visitors could pose and interact with images of farm animals, IPM/NPM staff demonstrated the computer power that simple mobile devices have and explained how the University of Wisconsin-Extension uses digital technology to be flexible and relevant to the needs of farmers, including developing apps for farmers.

“UW-Extension doesn’t manufacture giant farm machinery,” said Roger Schmidt, UW-Extension computer specialist at UW-Madison, “But we do create research and foster community relationships that help farmers reap bountiful harvests, earn more money and allow people to eat the best food the earth can grow sustainably.”

The IPM and NPM exhibit, which provided information about free smartphone apps developed for agriculture by these two programs, received the 2016 Donald R. Peterson Technology Transfer Award. Individuals recognized for their efforts with this display were Roger Schmidt, UW-Extension computer specialist at UW-Madison and Mimi Broeske, UW-Madison senior editor.

NPM and IPM mobile apps include Wisconsin’s Corn N Rate Calculator, N Price Calculator, Crop Calculators for Corn, NPK Credits – Manure and Legume Nutrient Credit Calculator, Soybean Replant Calculator, and an IPM toolkit. The apps are available for both Apple and Android devices.

The award was presented at the annual Wisconsin Farm Technology Days Board of Directors meeting in April 2017.

The Donald R. Peterson Award recognizes outstanding educational effectiveness and impact via an interactive exhibit and activities at Wisconsin Farm Technology Days. To receive this award, groups must successfully engage audiences around topics such as: effectively using new management tools, processes, or concepts; incorporating new technologies into a modern farm operation; or issues that challenge contemporary agriculture and our natural resource base.

The Donald R. Peterson Wisconsin Farm Technology (Progress) Days Technology Transfer Award was established in honor of Don Peterson, UW-Madison College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) Professor and Associate Dean. Peterson was Chair of the Board of Directors from 1975-1993 and Executive Director of Wisconsin Farm Progress Days from 1993-1998.

The Award memorializes Peterson’s diligent efforts to encourage CALS faculty and staff to convey the fruits of College research and knowledge to the public through Wisconsin Farm Technology Days.

This post originally published on the UW Extension Website

Supporting Young Women in Science

Sharon Gray’s work in Ethiopia is not done.

The 30-year-old UC Davis postdoc had gone to the African nation to discuss the start of a plant biology research project. She and others — including Associate Professor Siobhan Brady — were in a car, driving on the outskirts of the capital city, Addis Ababa, when a rock came crashing through a window, striking and killing Gray. Brady was not injured.

Now, to preserve her legacy of mentorship, and hopefully bring this scientist to the United States,Gray’s family is raising money via GoFundMe to mentor women in science. “The mission of this current campaign is to make something positive out of this tragedy,” Markelz wrote for the GoFundMe site.

He said the family is discussing the exchange proposal with multiple institutions, including UC Davis and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where Gray received her Ph.D. Meanwhile, as of around 12:45 p.m. today (Oct. 11), the GoFundMe drive had raised more than $63,000 toward its $200,000 goal.

Memorial Fund: https://www.gofundme.com/sharonbethgray

Article detailing Sharon’s life and mentoring: https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/sharon-grays-mentorship-lives-on

Boys Scouts earn Plant Sciences merit badges

Reported in eCALS on 8/22/2016 by Caroline Schneider, CALS Office of External Relations

Last Saturday, Aug. 20, Kevin Cope, a graduate student in Jean-Michel Ané’s lab, organized a Plant Science Merit Badge Workshop for Boy Scouts. The workshop was held in conjunction with the Plant Sciences Graduate Student Council (PSGSC) with help from PSGSC president Chris D’Angelo, a graduate student in Irwin Goldman’s lab. Boy Scouts from across Wisconsin and parts of Illinois attended, and 48 scouts earned the badge. More than 15 graduate student volunteers from several different departments and programs helped with the workshop.

Scouts attending the workshop took part in lectures, hands-on experiments, and tours of the D.C. Smith Greenhouse and the Allen Centennial Gardens. Said one parent who attended the workshop, “My son commented on how much they learned and came home in very good spirits after a long day. We’ve been to many different merit badge workshops…[This] was one of the best run and highest-quality workshops we’ve seen.”

This is the second time Kevin, who serves as vice president of PSGSC, has organized this workshop with the student council. They plan to continue offering this merit badge workshop in the future so that young men interested in plant science can learn more and enjoy the facilities that UW–Madison has to offer. They are also interested in expanding the workshop to involve young women and welcome ideas about how to do that. Contact Kevin at kcope@wisc.edu with any questions or suggestions.

Horticulture Grad Student Wins Writing Contest

This past spring, CALS agroecology graduate student Kitt Healy won second place in the Water Sustainability and Climate Project’s Our Waters, Our Future writing contest, which sought short stories about positive futures for water and people in south-central Wisconsin. As part of Healy’s award, her story, “The Incarnation of Nelmi Jane,” is featured in Madison Magazine’s June online issue.

The contest was an effort to encourage imaginative thinking about desirable and possible futures for the region. It was a collaboration of the UW-Madison’s Water Sustainability and Climate Project and Center for Limnology, Sustain Dane, the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters, and Madison Magazine.

Contest submissions came from all over Wisconsin and were judged in part based on their scientific plausibility, a call made by a team of four scientists from UW-Madison.

Wisconsin-based literary leaders Peter Annin, journalist and author of Great Lakes Water Wars, and poet Fabu, Madison’s third poet laureate, along with Madison Magazine, made the final decision on the first- and second-place winners.

“The Incarnation of Nelmi Jane has beautiful poetic lines woven throughout the story. It combines the realities of not taking good care of our water with the hope that new life and better understanding bring,” said Fabu of Healy’s story.

The contest ran from November 2015 through January 2016, and the winners were announced in March.

Read Healy’s story here.

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Greenhouse Wins Rural Development Initiative Award

The Flambeau River Community Growing Center in Park Falls, Wisconsin, which was founded with the help of CALS horticulturalists, (Mike Geiger and Dr. Sara Patterson) has been selected to receive a Top Rural Development Initiative award from Wisconsin Rural Partners, Inc.

Wisconsin Rural Partners, Inc. (WRP) is a statewide non-profit organization that develops rural networks and leaders, and provides a voice for rural Wisconsin. WRP is the federally-recognized State Rural Development Council for Wisconsin.

This is the sixteenth year that WRP has recognized Wisconsin’s Top Rural Development Initiatives. The program is designed to identify, highlight, and share innovative models, practices and programs that have a positive impact on rural Wisconsin communities.

Here’s the description of the Flambeau River Community Growing Center from the WRP news release:

 

Flambeau River Community Growing Center, Park Falls
It started in 2012 with the idea of using waste heat from the Flambeau Mill to heat a greenhouse which could provide higher educational classes, a food source for the food pantry, and community gardens. Through a collaboration with UW- Madison, the Flambeau Mill, UWEX – Price County, and the Flambeau River Community Growing Center committee, a nonprofit 510(c)3 organization was established. Today, the vision has been realized and the growing center provides educational classes, and community support through the availability of raised beds for community members and through the provision of fresh foods for the local food pantries.

Originally posted at ecals.cals.wisc.edu/2016/05/17

Sowing Seeds . . . Growing Communities

Just as some seeds yield tomatoes, carrots and lettuce, others grow community and partnership.

In a greenhouse in the northern Wisconsin town of Park Falls, all of those seeds are taking root with the help of CALS horticulture graduate student Michael Geiger, horticulture professor Sara Patterson and a team of dedicated local leaders.

hydroponic-salad-table-workshop-crop

Mike Geiger (left) at a hydroponic salad table workshop at the greenhouse. All photos courtesy of Mike Geiger. All photos courtesy of Mike Geiger.

“The greenhouse has opened doors to making healthier food choices, to education about gardening in local schools—and it’s given the university a presence in Park Falls,” says Geiger, who grew up in Arbor Vitae, some 50 miles away.

Geiger’s involvement with the project – called the Flambeau River Community Growing Center – started as an idea in 2012. That’s when his friend Tracey Snyder, a nurse practitioner developing a wellness program at the nearby Flambeau River Papers mill in Park Falls, approached him seeking guidance on the greenhouse project.

“I was very interested in what she was saying and thought it was something that would be fun to work on,” says Geiger, who then was a senior horticulture student at UW-Madison.

Snyder’s group was seeking funding for a greenhouse project, and Geiger teamed with Patterson to identify possible revenue sources. They developed a proposal for the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment at UW–Madison.

Their proposal was funded in the summer of 2013, and by the fall construction had begun on a 25-by-50-foot vail-style greenhouse, built by community volunteers on a vacant lot donated by Flambeau River Papers just north of the mill.

The greenhouse, built to withstand the heavier snows of northern Wisconsin, features in-floor radiant heating and custom greenhouse growing tables made of locally purchased white cedar and built by volunteers. Plans call for the facility to eventually be heated with waste steam from the mill.

An open house at the greenhouse.

An open house at the greenhouse.

The Flambeau River Community Growing Center has gained popularity with community members and school groups interested in learning about plants and gardening. “It’s a greenhouse, but it’s also a classroom,” says Geiger.

Learners include children from the Chequamegon School District, who start seeds in the greenhouse and nurture seedlings until they can be transplanted to their own outdoor school gardens. Area 4–H groups grow plants and tend them in raised beds just outside the greenhouse. Master Gardener classes are held at the facility, and community workshops have included such topics as square-foot and container gardening as well as hydroponics. Kids have been delighted with sessions on soil testing and painting their own flowerpots.

“It’s clearly a benefit to build a connection between UW–Madison and the community, for the community itself—people from ages 3 to 90—and for the local schools,” Patterson says.

Community leaders and institutions have joined to fuel the center’s success. Its chief executive officer, Tony Thier, recently retired from Flambeau River Papers, says UW–Extension has provided valuable educational and technical support, and volunteer opportunities draw professionals from various companies in the area. Park Falls attorney Janet Marvin helped the center gain nonprofit status last fall.

Thier says the center provides needed education for area residents. “It’s been very beneficial,” he says. “When I got involved, it really became a passion. I wanted to learn more about gardening and increase my skill. We try to involve the whole community.”

Geiger says the project has helped him in his academic career as he learned about project planning, gave presentations about the center at two national academic conferences and writes scholarly articles about his work there.

“I’ve been able to see this process through from an idea to reality,” says Geiger. “It’s been really rewarding.”

Original Posting: Dennis Chaptman,  ecals.cals.wisc.edu  04.14.2016  All photos courtesy of Mike Geiger.

Introducing Allen Centennial Garden (s)

Allen Centennial Gardens is now officially known as the Allen Centennial Garden (singular) – and it’s just as sweet. A request to change the name was recently approved by the Chancellor’s office.

Garden director Ben Futa kindly shared with eCALS some of the reasoning behind the shift:

The change came about as a result of our strategic planning process and our desire to make the Garden a stronger component of the campus community and student experience. While we’re made up of many special gardens (plural), we are one organization, one entity, one identity – the Garden (singular).

The Garden is the sum of many excellent parts and implies a cohesive vision and that we speak with one voice. It also helps us to brand our physical place. “Are you heading to the Garden? Have you been to the Garden lately?”

Another point to mention: We’ve generated a new marketing catchphrase through this process: “Uniquely UW-Simply Beautiful.” We want to emphasize the Garden as a critical part of the UW-student experience. We’re something you can’t get from an online class. We’re a reason to choose the UW-Madison campus experience.

Originally published in ecals@cals.wisc.edu January 11, 2016

Gift Establishes Endowed Fellowship in Vegetable Crops

The Department of Horticulture is extremely grateful for the generous donation from Steve and Christa Slinger of Randolph, Wisconsin to establish an endowed graduate fellowship in vegetable crops in the Department of Horticulture.  Steve and Christa have had a long association with UW-Madison and with the Department of Horticulture, and have committed a gift of $200,000 to establish this endowed fellowship.

Their gift will receive a “Nicholas Match,” which will double its value to $400,000. In 2015, the Nicholas family pledged to match new gifts toward fellowships at UW-Madison. The Slinger fellowship is to be used at the discretion of the department to support graduate students working with horticulture faculty on research involving vegetable crops.

Steve and Christa have had successful careers as vegetable farmers and continue their efforts to produce high quality crops in the Randolph area. Our department expresses its gratitude to them for this generous gift.

Giant Pumpkin Regatta set for October 10

Chris D'Angelo and Lynn Maher, grad students in the UW Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program, with the Giant Atlantic pumpkins they helped grow for the UW-Madison's Giant Pumpkin Regatta event, set for Oct. 10, 2015 at the Memorial Union Terrace.

Chris D’Angelo and Lynn Maher, grad students in the UW Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program, with the Giant Atlantic pumpkins they helped grow for the UW-Madison’s Giant Pumpkin Regatta event, set for Oct. 10, 2015 at the Memorial Union Terrace.

MADISON, Wis. — There’s a fun, alternative way to enjoy the fall harvest: attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Giant Pumpkin Regatta. The event, which features students paddling hollowed-out pumpkins grown by fellow students, is set to take place at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Memorial Union Terrace, 800 Langdon St.

Parking is available in the Helen C. White Hall parking ramp, and the festivities will be held at the pier in front of the Wisconsin Hoofers’ outdoor programs office, located on the water level below the Memorial Union Theater.

The event is organized by UW-Madison horticulture professors Irwin Goldman and Jim Nienhuis, with help from the UW’s Hoofer Sailing Club. Racers, called “pumpkin pilots,” are recruited from Goldman and Nienhuis’ class on world vegetable crops. They will paddle hollowed-out, three-foot-wide Atlantic Giant pumpkins – rendered buoyant by tractor-tire inner tubes – through a course set up by sailing club members.

The massive pumpkins were tended by a number of UW students over the growing season, including Chris D’Angelo and Lynn Maher, graduate students in Goldman’s lab who are in the university’s Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program.

The inaugural Giant Pumpkin Regatta was held in 2005, with the idea to make it an annual event. Mother Nature, however, doesn’t always cooperate.

“We’ve done it a number of times since 2005, but we have had to skip some years due to poor pumpkins,” says Goldman.

Fortunately, 2015 yielded a good crop.