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Posts Tagged: research

Clement Chow: Fruit Flies, Rare Diseases and the Accomplishments

Don't miss the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar by Clement Chow on Monday, May 6. It will open your eyes about...

The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is commonly used for biological research in genetics. (Photo courtesy of Wikpedia)
The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is commonly used for biological research in genetics. (Photo courtesy of Wikpedia)

The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is commonly used for biological research in genetics. (Photo courtesy of Wikpedia)

Posted on Thursday, May 2, 2024 at 6:55 PM
Focus Area Tags: Health, Innovation

Good Things Come in Threes

Congratulations to UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal, the recipient of the Academic Senate's highly competitive 2024 Distinguished...

UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal is the recipient of the Academic Senate's three most coveted awards: research, teaching and public service awards. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal is the recipient of the Academic Senate's three most coveted awards: research, teaching and public service awards. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal is the recipient of the Academic Senate's three most coveted awards: research, teaching and public service awards. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, February 22, 2024 at 7:44 PM
Tags: Academic Senate (4), Bruce Hammock (75), public service (3), research (13), teaching (2), UC Davis (348), Walter Leal (101)
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture, Economic Development, Environment, Innovation, Natural Resources, Pest Management

UC Master Gardeners of San Diego celebrates 40 years of service to community

Vincent Lazaneo stands in a field with strawberry red rhubarb (1983). Photo courtesy of UC Master Gardeners of San Diego County.

For 40 years, the University of California Master Gardener Program of San Diego County has upheld its mission of providing research-based information about home horticulture and pest management to the public, while earning and sustaining the community's trust in doing so.

“People trust UC Master Gardeners to provide accurate advice on gardening because they are trained by UC ANR [UC Agriculture and Natural Resources],” said Vincent Lazaneo, emeritus urban horticulture advisor and the first UC Master Gardener program coordinator for San Diego County.

The UC Master Gardener program, a public service and outreach program under UC ANR, is administered by local UC Cooperative Extension offices and outreach is provided by trained volunteers.  In 1983, the UC Master Gardener program of San Diego County started with about 30 volunteers. Today, more than 350 volunteers serve the program, which is now managed by program coordinator Leah Taylor.

In San Diego, UC Master Gardeners have had a significant presence in schools, where they encourage an appreciation for plants and our planet; at the county fair where they field hundreds of questions related to plant care; and in community spaces such as Balboa Park and the Carlsbad Flower Fields where they staff demonstration gardens.

“Having the UC behind us is huge,” said Anne Perreira, UC Master Gardener and current president of the Master Gardener Association of San Diego County. “It opens doors for us and gives us credibility.”

A UC Master Gardener inspects plants during the 2023 Annual Plant Sale at the Office of San Diego County. Photo by Rob Padilla.

'Dual citizenship' status expands capacity for support

When Lazaneo started the UC Master Gardener program in 1983, he felt the need to establish a formal association or 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that would support the program.

Unsure of what the future held, Lazaneo believed that nonprofit status would increase the UC Master Gardeners' flexibility regarding project development, community engagement and financial planning. After 10 years, the UC Master Gardeners of San Diego County were approved as a registered nonprofit organization and became simultaneously known as the Master Gardener Association of San Diego County.

“It can be confusing for people when they hear that we're a UC program and an association,” explained Taylor. “It's like ‘dual citizenship' in a way, and I think the most important thing to know is that our status as a nonprofit and affiliation to UC work in conjunction to not only support the UC Master Gardeners and what they do in San Diego, but their ability to support UC Master Gardener programs in other counties.”

Leah Taylor passes out pamphlets to attendees at the 2022 Annual Plant Sale in Balboa Park. Photo by Rob Padilla.

Emphasizing the research-based approach

Taylor, who has been the program coordinator since 2021, said that the UC Master Gardener program is instrumental in extending the work of UCCE advisors. “If you're working on research and you need to get that information out into the public, we've got 350 UC Master Gardeners who are trained and available to communicate on your behalf,” Taylor said.

“For me it's like a multiplier effect: how many San Diegans can I reach by teaching a seminar on small-scale hydroponics? Maybe 20 or 30,” said Gerry Spinelli, UC Cooperative Extension production horticulture advisor for San Diego County. “But how many can I reach by training 20 or 30 UC Master Gardener volunteers on the same topic? Maybe 200 or 300.”

Spinelli, who also advises the UC Master Gardeners for San Diego County, said that the group has been instrumental in data collection and disseminating information to the public, particularly in urban underserved areas.

Lazaneo recalls the UC Master Gardeners establishing a partnership in 1983 with Cuyamaca College in El Cajon. The college's Horticulture Department allowed the UC Master Gardeners to develop a research garden on campus. After setting a perimeter, building a fence, installing irrigation lines and rototilling the soil, the UC Master Gardeners planted different tomato varieties that were used in a statewide study assessing plant performance for home gardens.

In addition to educating and equipping the public, the UC Master Gardeners of San Diego County have contributed to research efforts on specific crops, including the development of a new artichoke variety, Imperial Star, with guidance from Wayne Schrader, former UCCE vegetable crops advisor for San Diego County. 

The research garden, which was used for more than a decade, also aided in research efforts evaluating asparagus varieties, horned cucumbers called “Kiwano,” a fruit similar to melon called pepino dulce, sweet peas, rhubarb and many others. Similarly, the research garden has contributed to trials for soil solarization and chemical treatment to control root knot nematodes and expanded understanding of powdery mildew's impact on summer squash.

Carol Graham manages the "Ask a Master Gardener" booth during the 2022 Annual Plant Sale. Photo by Rob Padilla.

Evolving with the times

Out of 170 applications, Lazaneo selected about 30 individuals to be a part of the first class of UC Master Gardeners for San Diego County. Carol Graham, who is still active today, was in the original cohort that formed in 1983.

Graham said that “times have certainly changed,” and one of the changes she's noticed since joining UC Master Gardeners is the proliferation of insects. “I don't remember pests being a severe issue when I first started. Now, you've got all kinds of bugs that have moved into the county, causing people to overuse and misuse pesticides,” said Graham.

Graham's 40 years as a UC Master Gardener have given her an opportunity to teach people how to overcome their phobias of bugs and how to use pesticides safely and appropriately. Furthermore, her role as a UC Master Gardener has allowed her to teach others how to grow their own food in hopes of enhancing food security in the county, something she cares deeply about.

The UC Master Gardeners also have changed the way they communicate over the years. DeLayne Harmon, vice president of member services, is well-versed in the program's history.

“Before we began tracking our volunteer hours online, do you know what the UC Master Gardeners did back in the day?” asked Harmon, who joined UC Master Gardeners in 2020. “They wrote everything down by hand, with pen and paper!”

“It's easy to have the mentality that's like, ‘This is how we've always done things,'” said Harmon. “But the UC Master Gardeners know that there is always room for improvement, and we welcome opportunities to be better.”

Gerry Spinelli (left) and Anne Perreira (center) accept a proclamation from the County of San Diego declaring July 1 as "Master Gardener Day" during the 2023 Annual Plant Sale. Photo by Rob Padilla.

Giving back and putting people first

The UC Master Gardeners of San Diego County are eager to improve access to fresh food in schools. Recently, the UC Master Gardeners were given a $5,000 grant by the Sage Garden Project, which will be used to partner with schools in under-resourced communities.

“We want to be in places where the people don't know about UC Master Gardeners,” said Perreira, the association president. “We realized that there are a lot of students who don't know what fresh food looks like and we want to change that.”

In 2022, the UC Master Gardeners transformed a landfill into a demonstration garden, now called the Paradise Hills Native Garden, which they also maintain. “It's beautiful and there are walking trails for the community to enjoy,” Taylor said. “The native garden is in a neighborhood that doesn't have a lot of green space, and to have something so beautiful, that encourages community gatherings, it's a good thing.” 

Looking to the future of the UC Master Gardener program in San Diego, Taylor says that she wants to continue making an impact in the community and having the UC Master Gardeners be that driving force.

Grateful for Taylor's leadership, Spinelli said that he is excited about the program's impact on food education, particularly in food deserts.

“We are blessed with a climate that allows year-round food production, and with the science-based knowledge offered by the UC system, our UC Master Gardeners can provide San Diego County residents with the tools to grow local, healthy, nutritious, safe and environmentally friendly food for their families,” Spinelli said.

When reflecting on how far the UC Master Gardeners of San Diego County have come, Perreira – who has been a UC Master Gardener since 2016 – emphasized how important it is to continue their legacy of doing good in and with the community. “We've got a diversity of skills within our group and I'm ready for us to expand our capacity to create change. What we do and what we say have to mean something!” she said.

To read this story in Spanish, visit: https://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=59028

Posted on Wednesday, December 13, 2023 at 9:24 AM
Focus Area Tags: Environment, Family, Pest Management, Yard & Garden

UC awards Brodt $2M to advance soil health, climate-smart farming practices

Orchard growers learn about cover crops at an almond orchard in Colusa County. Photo by Evett Kilmartin

Regional farms will demonstrate practices such as cover cropping, reduced tillage, compost and mulch use, hedgerow planting, optimized irrigation systems

To accelerate adoption of climate-smart farming practices, the University of California Office of the President has awarded nearly $2 million to a team of UC Cooperative Extension scientists and community partners working on a network of farm demonstration sites. The project will be led by Sonja Brodt, coordinator for agriculture and environment at the UC Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program. This UC Agriculture and Natural Resources project is one of 38 funded with $83.1 million allocated to UC by the State of California for climate action research and innovation.

Scaling up soil health and other climate-smart agricultural practices to sequester carbon, increase water and nutrient use efficiency, and improve the resilience of farms to climate-related threats like drought and floods is a core pillar identified in California's Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy

Sonja Brodt
Climate-smart agriculture is a systems-based approach that requires localized adaptation across the diverse soils, cropping systems, socioeconomic and cultural contexts throughout California.

“Our project will strengthen the nascent California Farm Demonstration Network for on-the-ground, regionally specific demonstration of a range of climate-smart practices,” said Brodt. “Regional farms will demonstrate practices such as cover cropping, reduced tillage, compost and mulch use, hedgerow planting, irrigation system optimization and more.”

The $1,999,524 project will pilot a participatory partnership extension model that allows farmers to learn from their peers to reduce adoption risks and adapt knowledge to an ever-changing environment, increasing the likelihood of farmer success and accelerating long-term uptake of complex, place-specific practices. 

Building on the capacity of local trusted organizations, project collaborators will be organized in a hub-and-spoke network with three regional Farm Demonstration Hubs (Sacramento Valley, North Coast and Central Coast), a pilot Hmong/Mien Demonstration Hub, and a statewide Organic Demonstration Hub.

Collaborators at each hub will be responsible for identifying and nurturing farm demonstration sites, and conducting demonstration trials and farmer-to-farmer outreach activities. Centralized organization and capacity building will be provided by UC SAREP, UC Organic Agriculture Institute, the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, and the California Farm Demonstration Network Advisory Panel.

In addition to several UC Cooperative Extension advisors and specialists across the state, partners include the UC Hansen Research and Extension Center and the Rodale Institute California Organic Center, both in Ventura County, and the UC Climate Smart Agriculture Program. Eight Resource Conservation Districts will also be involved in leading Farm Demonstration Hubs.

Hope Zabronsky of the UC Climate Smart Agriculture Program shows the importance of soil structure at a cover cropping workshop.

The project will also conduct soil health assessment activities to inform soil health and resilience monitoring protocols in future research and extension efforts. Since many existing soil health metrics were designed for agroecosystems in the Midwest and Eastern U.S., this project aims to lay the groundwork for research to adapt soil health metrics to the arid and Mediterranean climates of California.  

“By utilizing relationships built between demonstration hub managers and demonstration farms across different cropping systems, we will gather quantitative and qualitative soil health data, information about growers' management practices as well as their own perspectives of what they really need to know about their soils in order to better manage for climate resilience and mitigation,” said Brodt.

Ultimately, the project partners aim to establish an enduring on-farm extension and research system that will help thousands of farmers adopt climate-smart practices tailored to their farms.

Other grant-supported projects focus on water access, conservation

The largest of the Climate Action Matching Grants, an $8.2 million investment, supports the development of planning tools to advance sustainable, inclusive and equitable water distribution for California's 39 million people. The project is led by Ted Grantham, a UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley. Kristin Dobbin, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management at UC Berkeley, and Erik Porse, director of the California Institute for Water Resources are collaborating on the project.

Three other projects involving UC ANR researchers received California Climate Action Seed Grants and Matching Grants subawards:

  • Development of a hydrogel that can work as a soil amendment to help small-scale vegetable farms conserve water led by UC San Diego associate professor Shengqiang Cai with Ruth Dahlquist-Willard, UC Cooperative Extension small farms advisor and interim director of UC SAREP; Mallika Nocco, UC Cooperative Extension specialist; and Matthew Gilbert, UC Davis professor of whole plant physiology. $297,979
  • Development of a tool for predicting climate-water variation led by UC Irvine professor Isabella Velicogna with Tapan Pathak, UC Cooperative Extension specialist. $199,531
  • A study of urban stream corridors led by UC Davis professor Gregory Pasternack with Igor Lacan, UC Cooperative Extension environmental horticulture and urban forestry advisor. $33,824
  • A study of how California's housing crisis affects the growth of the wildland urban interface (WUI), where the fringes of development reach into natural areas led by UC Santa Cruz professor Miriam Greenberg, with Barb Satink Wolfson, UCCE fire advisor, Devii Rao, UCCE livestock and natural resources advisor, and the Central Coast Prescribed Burn Association.

Updated 8/31/23 to add the wildland urban interface study.

Posted on Wednesday, August 23, 2023 at 9:30 AM
  • Author: Kristen Farrar, SAREP
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture, Natural Resources

Tips on How to Write a Research Paper or Term Paper

If you're a student in a UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology class taught by UC Davis Distinguished Professor James R....

Screen shot from UC Davis Distinguished Professor James R. Carey's teachings.
Screen shot from UC Davis Distinguished Professor James R. Carey's teachings.

Screen shot from UC Davis Distinguished Professor James R. Carey's teachings.

Posted on Friday, July 7, 2023 at 5:30 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture, Environment, Innovation

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