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Archive for June, 2010

LSU AgCenter launches Market Maker online service

The LSU AgCenter has launched a new online service to help agriculture businesses market their products. Called Market Maker, the service is offered via a website so anyone in the world 24 hours a day can find items they want to purchase from Louisiana businesses.

“This will be a boon for our seafood industry,” LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson told an audience today at the 88th annual Louisiana Farm Bureau Convention here, where he made the announcement of the new service. “This will provide another way for them to promote their products and get the word out that Louisiana seafood is safe to eat despite the oil spill.” Anybody in Louisiana with a product to sell – seafood, pecans, crawfish, strawberries, etc. – can establish an account on Market Maker for free.

Market Maker originates out of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and 17 states including Louisiana are members. Louisiana joined the national effort last fall with a federal grant of $125,000 provided through the Louisiana Recovery Authority. The fund covers the initial startup of the Louisiana Market Maker website and its maintenance for the first three years.

Ben Clark, the LSU AgCenter extension associate who has been assigned to manage Market Maker, has begun adding farmers’ markets and roadside stands to the system. The individuals in charge of these operations can go into the system, change the passwords and update the sites.  “It’s easy to register,” Clark said. “And if people have any questions, they can e-mail us.” The e-mail address is MarketMaker@agcenter.lsu.edu.

Individuals who want to register are to go to LA.FoodMarketMaker.com and follow the instructions, which include a series of drop-down menus. If they want, they can add images of their business and a link to their website, if they have one. They can add a narrative with more details about their business. “This allows them to find specific areas in states where they can reach certain audiences,” Clark said.

Consumers don’t have to register to find products on the national Market Maker. They can go to http://national.marketmaker.uiuc.edu and find products in the 14 states online so far. The Louisiana Market Maker should be searchable by Aug. 15, Clark said. “Right now the site is only open for registration,” Clark said.

Supporters of Louisiana Market Maker include the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Farm Bureau.

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LaHouse Sustainable Field Day Successful, Ed Cullen article, Advocate

Dr. Carl Mostenbocker discusses organic gardening during the recent sustainable gardening field day. Photo by Bill Feig, Advocate

On a day when the comfort index hit 110 degrees, gardeners and homeowners found the LaHouse breezeway a sustaining part of the LSU AgCenter’s “Sustainable Vegetable and Landscape Field Day.”

About 175  people showed up at LaHouse and its demonstration gardens, 2858 Gourrier Ave. Heading south on Nicholson Drive, turn right at Alex Box Baseball Stadium.

“LaHouse is a showcase of solutions,” said Claudette Reichel, an LSU AgCenter professor and extension housing specialist.

The house’s four building systems, which include different kinds of windows and doors, wall configurations, building foundations and roofing, show visitors ways to build houses that stand up to our climate and storms.

On the hottest days, there is a cooling breeze through a roofed, screened room that could be used as a cooking or sleeping porch in a private home. At the field day, visitors sat in the breezeway to drink water or soft drinks between gardening and landscaping talks.

Brian LeBlanc, an associate professor of water quality, recommended permeable pavement in answer to a question about home parking surfaces. Water passes through the pavement to reach the soil and tree roots.

He talked about using “wetland plants — irises, cattails —  any kind of plant that enjoys wet feet” to absorb nitrogen  and phosphorous in treated sewage before the effluent enters a stream or lake.

“I’ve learned a dozen little tips today,” lawyer Jeff Calmes said. “It’s good for an inexperienced gardener like me. I’m thinking about taking the Master Gardener class.”

“There were other people interested in taking the class,” said Kyle Huffstickler, landscape coordinator at LaHouse. For more information, call Huffstickler at (225) 578-7913.

“I have a landscape that never needs spraying,” horticulturist Dan Gill told gardeners. “It’s a Darwinian landscape. Only the strong survive.”

Gill showed visitors what he jokingly called “a lacy leaf hibiscus,” a hardy hibiscus that does well in low places.

The lacy effect is from insect damage. “This is life,” Gill said. The hibiscus was covered with blooms. For full article, click here.

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If you want to find out more about the Louisiana Master Gardener program, you can now check out video-recorded sessions of actual classes as well as sessions of the 2009 LMG conference held in Kenner, Louisiana. This will not only give you a better understanding of what the program is like for those interested in taking the class but will be a great resource for those volunteers who need continuing education hours to maintain your certification. You can click here or go to this weblink: 

http://www.lsuagcenter.com/LMGVideoCatalog

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For those of you who were unable to attend the LaHouse sustainable landscape and gardening field day, our IT department came out and video-recorded the field programs. You will need a high speed internet connection for best viewing quality. Click here to view the field day. You can also go to the following link to view:

www.lsuagcenter.com/lahouse2010

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Please post methods used to recognize your Louisiana Master Gardener volunteers who achieve the 40 volunteer hour level and beyond on an annual basis. You can also include continuing education hours, leadership awards or any other recognition given. In addition, please include method of recognition. Include the name of your program when leaving comments.

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Fruit, vegetable field day set for July 3 in Baton Rouge

The LSU AgCenter’s Burden Center will host a tour of fruit and vegetable research and variety trials from 9 a.m. until noon on Saturday, July 3. This field day has something for everyone, including producers, home gardeners and anyone who just wants to come out and enjoy the gardens at Burden Center, said LSU AgCenter horticulturist Jeff Kuehny.

Tours will begin at the All America Selections Display Garden at Burden and continue with a hayride to the food and fiber research fields. There, LSU AgCenter faculty and staff will explain their latest research on fruits and vegetables as well as variety trials. “At each of these stations, you will be able to glean the latest information on production in the Deep South, as well as taste the bounty of the summer harvest,” Kuehny said.

Some of the vegetable highlights include variety trials of seedless watermelons and sweet corn with Jimmy Boudreaux and tomato variety trials by Kathryn Fontenot. The two LSU AgCenter horticulturists will provide information on how to grow sweeter corn and larger tomatoes along with best management practices for optimizing production and yield, Kuehny said.LSU AgCenter horticulturist Charles Johnson will review information on 20 fig varieties he evaluates each year for horticultural characteristics such as fruit size, shape, sugar content and shelf life.

“If you’ve ever considered growing oriental persimmons, you may be interested in Dr. Johnson’s work evaluating this unique fruit for more than 10 years for fruit quality and tree adaptation,” Kuehny said. “He’ll also discuss the marketing aspects of persimmons.”  Full story, click here.

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Louisiana seafood is safe, experts say 

This is not a master gardener related topic but one I feel you would be interested in due to current events in the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana seafood is safe, and consumers don’t need to worry about the safety of eating Louisiana seafood following the oil spill, according to experts with the LSU AgCenter. “All Louisiana seafood sold in retail stores and supermarkets, as well as in restaurants, is safe to eat,” said LSU AgCenter nutritionist Beth Reames. “Fishing areas affected by the spill are closed to fishing and oyster collection. Retailers obtain their seafood from nonclosed waters. Seafood that is determined to be unsafe will not be allowed on the market by regulatory agencies.” 

Reames cited daily testing of seafood by local, state and federal experts and scientists to check for oil on the water surface and on seafood meat. According to a recent report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, chemical tests of 600 samples of Gulf seafood looking for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) showed pristine levels. Dr. Steven Murawski, chief science advisor for NOAA Fisheries Service, said sensory analysis is being done at the NOAA lab in Pascagoula, Miss., and the chemical analysis is being conducted in Washington State.

 He reported that seafood from the Gulf of Mexico was cleaner and less contaminated than typical seafood samples from some other coasts, primarily because the areas sampled in the Gulf are far from any large population centers and major cities where there is more environmental contamination with PAHs. 

In addition, recent Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries tests on seafood samples from inshore waters of Louisiana have shown levels to be below detection limits. Guidelines for limits of PAH exposure to food safety have been calculated based on past oil spill occurrences and vary by the type of seafood. “PAHs are found throughout our environment, including our food supply, both raw and cooked,” Reames said. “There have been no recorded illnesses due to PAH exposure at most levels encountered in our environment or in other foods, but elevated levels will require controls to prevent excessive exposure.”

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