University of Florida

Celebrate Arbor Day with Sarasota County

Photo of treeSarasota County, UF/IFAS Extension, FPL, and the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program are celebrating Arbor Day 2014 with two free educational events to be held at UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County

  • Tree School, which focuses on best practices and proper tree care for landscape professionals and property managers, will be held 8 a.m.-noon Friday, April 25. 

  • Value of Trees and Pruning for Tree Health, an event for area residents and community associations will be held 1 - 4 p.m., on Saturday, April 26.

In the spirit of Arbor Day, these educational events will extend beyond simply planting trees by teaching people how to maximize tree health, lifespan, and impact on the environment. Properly managed tree canopies provide shade and wildlife habitat, help reduce stormwater runoff and increase the value of homes and properties.​

Both events are free and open to the public. Advance registration is recommended. Click here to register.

Sarasota Grown Label Launches

Sarasota Grown LabelResearch shows that consumers' uncertainty about whether a product was actually grown locally can be a significant limiting factor when they choose produce.The new Sarasota Grown local food label is a voluntary program that supports self‐certification of food and agricultural products grown or raised on farms in Sarasota County. The program is available to farmers, vendors, distributors and restauranteurs that participate in the “Fresh From Florida” Florida Agricultural Promotional Campaign and agree to comply by the terms and conditions of the Sarasota Grown License Agreement. Look for the label at farmers' markets, restaurants and more. Find out how your business can participate here.

Seeds of Change

appleWorld-class researchers with the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences play a key role in breeding crops adapted to Florida's climate and improving specialty crops like blueberries, strawberries and tomatoes. In "Seeds of Change", Melissa Klinzing looks at how scientists and farmers work together on these programs. Watch the video here.

Consumer Public Opinion of Food

The UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education (PIE Center) recently released a public opinion survey of Floridians perceptions of food issues. The survey included questions about consumers' perceptions of food security, food safety, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).These issues are important to the sustainability of the agricultural industry, human well-being and the future of food. Read the UF/IFAS article.

Oak Park Garden Project Complete

Mother and ChildFollowing up from the story in July's issue, Master Gardener Bonnie Feise completed her project assisting students with special needs at Oak Park School. A lovely garden with fencing was installed, along with a 300 pound turtle sculpture. The project was finished in preparation of school going back into session in August. Students were welcomed back to their classrooms by the cheerful turtle. The project greatly enhances the view and provides mental stimulation for wheelchair-bound youth. Thanks to Bonnie for all of her hard work on this important, meaningful project!

UF Sprouts get School Gardens Growing

Estuary Friendly LivingUF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County partnered with the Farm to School District Representative and the UF Research Center in Immokolee to provide starter plants and seeds to schools with gardens. Immokolee staff worked hard over the summer months preparing edible starters to have them ready for installation at the beginning of school year. In September, Farm to School representatives and Sarasota's Community and School Gardens Coordinator transported the plants and seeds from Immokolee to make them available to teachers locally, and in surrounding counties. The effort saves crucial time for teachers, and ensures the plants will be ready for harvest before Christmas Break.  Students will benefit from increased agricultural awareness while they participate in various school garden programs. This is a great example of partnering between programs and utilizing available resources to serve the needs of our community!

Bee Ridge Community Garden Opens!

Fishing rodsSarasota's newest community garden is up and running! In early 2012, a small group of interested citizens came together to form a community garden at Bee Ridge Park. After a successful grant application through Sarasota County's Neighborhood Grant program, the volunteer group set about project construction.  Fencing, raised beds and pathways were installed, along with lovely edible plants. The project was completed on schedule in July 2013, and an official "grand-opening" will be planned in the coming months. Bee Ridge Community Garden joins the list of 8 successful community gardens located at public parks throughout the county. Community gardens provide a space to grow healthy produce, meet neighbors and are an enjoyable physical and recreational activity for program participants. Way to go Bee Ridge volunteers- you have made your vision a reality! 

Saving Money at the Grocery Store

Photo of air potato leaf feeding beetleIf your pocket book is feeling the squeeze this holiday season, a little effort can go a long way toward stretching your family's food budget. Having a good shopping list - based on your budget, meal plans and providing balanced nutrition - is your number one tool to help you save money at the grocery store. Learn more about saving money at the grocery store here

Neighboring Nature: Coyotes

Photo of air potato leaf feeding beetleCoyotes (Canis latrans) have been in Florida for many years. Once strictly a western species, this medium-sized predator is extremely adaptable, thriving in urban, suburban and rural areas. Removing coyotes is not an effect means of managing their populations because when coyotes are removed, remaining individuals compensate by increasing litter size and new coyotes move into areas where others have been removed. Continue reading to learn more about living with urban coyotes.

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