Food Security & Healthy Communities Panel Discussion

Last month, CURA hosted a panel discussion on Food Security & Healthy Communities. This was the first in a series of events centered around the theme of Food Security & Healthy Communities. The panel consists of experts from the City of Columbus – Cheryl L Graffagnino, Franklin County – Brian Estabrook, OSU Extension – Karima Samadi, and the College of Engineering, Knowlton School of Architecture – Kareem Usher.

Nearly 11% of the world’s population are food insecure or malnourished, and it may get worse: by 2050 farmers will need to produce almost 60% more food than currently. In Franklin County Ohio food insecurity is affecting Columbus neighborhoods. The type of food that is available to residents in these neighborhoods also plays into food insecurity. People who live in areas that do not have easy access to supermarkets tend to rely on stores that sell nutritionally-deficient or more expensive food. Transportation services, sidewalks, and the availability of crosswalks are also variables in residents’ access to healthy food options.

Follow this link to learn more.
Follow this link to watch the recorded panel discussion.

Sourced from: CURA

Good Natured Garden Partners

A Growing Team sharing about their experience

A Growing Team sharing about their experience

Good Natured Garden Partners (GNGP) is a program that allows a collaboration between OSU Extension, Mahoning County, and youth programs throughout the Mahoning Valley. The groups in the program are called “growing teams.” The growing teams that participate have at least one adult facilitator and as many youth that want to take part in the garden. GNGP usually ranges from 10-15 growing teams per year. Growing teams are allowed to be sponsored by an organization, but do not have to be. The goal of these growing teams is to plant and care for a garden throughout the summer. Youth learn the importance of hard work, dedication, and responsibility through this program, while learning where their food comes from and how to provide for themselves.

Youth at the End of Summer Garden Party

Youth at the End of Summer Garden Party

At the end of the program GNGP have an “End of the Summer Garden Party” where the participants come together for fellowship and a friendly competition. The competition is for the growing teams to bring in the products of their gardens. There are categories for vegetables such as; best plate of peppers, best plate of tomatoes, biggest zucchini, best plate of cucumbers, other vegetables, vegetable oddities, best basket of vegetables, and dress up the vegetable. There are also categories for herbs and flowers such as; largest sunflower, best bouquet of flowers, and best bouquet of herbs. The youth participants receive ribbons and prizes during the competition for all of their hard work. During the garden party the growing teams are asked to come forward and tell about their time in the garden throughout the summer.

Follow this link to learn more.

Article courtesy of Kristen Eisenhauer, Extension Educator, 4-H Youth Development and Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mahoning County, Ohio.

Cities Are Cutting the Salt from their Winter Road Diets

If you live in a place with both cars and snow, chances are you’ve witnessed first hand the annual salting of the roads. Since at least the 1940s, Americans in the snowy states have salted annually, often many times a year, in an effort to make our roads safer. Ask anyone who has spun out while driving, or unwittingly hit a patch of black ice: slippery roads are nothing to scoff at, and salt can be a necessary, even life-saving, tactic for winter road warriors.

Today, shutting down a state’s roads due to winter weather can cost hundreds of millions of dollars, says Michael Smith, technical training specialist with Bay State Roads at the University of Massachusetts Transportation Center. For example, shutting down the roads of Massachusetts (as happened statewide during a 2013 nor’easter) can cost between $300 and $700 million dollars per day, Smith says.

And so, as a nation, we dump 22 million tons of salt every year on our roads.

Fish, animals, insects, plants, and algae have changed their behavior in response to the current levels of road salt washing into their habitats. Some species of frog are, incredibly, changing sex as a result of these massive doses of salt. High enough doses can kill them and other wildlife. For the naturalist, folks who like to fish or otherwise enjoy nature, and for locals who rely upon natural tourism, salt’s side effects can’t be ignored.

Follow this link to learn more.

Sourced from: Next City

Cover Crops Can Help Urban Growers

Cover crops are a critical tool for improving soil quality on farms of all types and at all scales. Urban farms and gardens deal with unique challenges while growing in urban spaces that cover crops can help address.

Urban soils can be heavily degraded when topsoil is removed for construction. Sites that previously hosted buildings also have heavily compacted soils. Compacted soil makes it difficult for crop roots to penetrate and access water and nutrients and limit water penetration which can cause flooding or standing water. Cover crops can also help address non-soil-specific problems, such as create forage for pollinators, reduce weed pressure, and prevent soil and nutrients from running off into waterways.

The Michigan State University Extension cover crop team is releasing several tools to help urban growers incorporate cover crops into their soil management practices. Follow this link to learn more.

Sourced from: Morning Ag Clips 

Funding for Nutrition Benefits Programs Informed by Census Statistics

We all know fresh fruits and vegetables are key to good health. Yet many low-income neighborhoods have limited access to fresh produce. That’s why programs such as the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the National School Lunch Program are vital to the health of communities. Knowing how many children are in an area helps federal, state, and local officials evaluate funding for nutrition programs. “It’s important that a child is adequately nourished before attempting any activity,” said Betti Wiggins, officer of nutrition services for the Houston Independent School District, the nation’s seventh largest school district. Every day, the district serves 280,000 meals to students, she said.  SNAP, previously known as Food Stamps, provides nutrition benefits to supplement the food budgets of families “so they can purchase healthy food and move toward self-sufficiency,” according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which manages the program. Follow this link to learn more.

Sourced from: United States Census Bureau 

Urban Garden Honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A group of 40 volunteers spent the weekend in Hamilton winterizing a community garden, cleaning its raised boxes, tending to its berry beds, and trimming its trees and shrubs. The garden is part of the Hamilton Urban Garden System (HUGS). It donates all the food it grows to the Hamilton community, in Butler County, Ohio. The area around the HUGS garden is reportedly considered a food desert. The nearest grocery store is almost a mile away, leaving many in the area without readily available, nutritious food options. The HUGS garden aims to solve that problem – and it’s making a dent. Last summer, the garden reportedly produced 1,500 lbs. of fresh fruits and vegetables for the community. Follow this link to learn more.

Sourced from: Fox 19

Dean Addresses Challenges and Opportunities Facing College

The legacy, impact and people who make up the cornerstone college of The Ohio State University—the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) — were celebrated on January 10, 2020 during the annual State of the College address. Cathann A. Kress, vice president of agricultural administration and dean of CFAES, delivered the address at Ohio State’s Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center. She noted that while Ohio State is celebrating its sesquicentennial this year, CFAES is also celebrating its remarkable 150-year history. “We belong to the college which originally gave our institution part of its name and has been a critical force in shaping our comprehensive university,” she said. “But just as our university has changed and evolved in its 150 years, so have we.” Kress said CFAES plays a critical role in improving the state of Ohio and will continue to play an important role in confronting the challenges of the future. “Through our research, Extension and teaching, our college is a contributor to our state’s economic development and social well-being. Our work has evolved over a century and a half,” Kress said, “with students being educated to become thought leaders, and an incredible number of innovations and discoveries.”
Follow this link to learn more.
Follow this link to view the recording.

Sourced from: CFAES.

Avoiding a Rubber Apocalypse – TEDx

Natural rubber is a vital resource for any developed country and is used in over 40,000 commercial products. By 2020 the USA may suffer a supply shortfall of 1.5 million metric tons of imported natural rubber. While the use of synthetic rubber has surpassed natural rubber in quantity, there are particular properties and high-performance applications that make natural rubber irreplaceable by synthetic rubber. The Ohio State College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences plant biologist Katrina Cornish spoke recently at TEDx about her work to establish natural rubber alternatives produced in the United States.
Follow this link to learn more.
Follow this link to watch the presentation.

Sourced from: CFAES