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Home | Tag Archives: nmsu extension

Tag Archives: nmsu extension

NMSU Extension Master Gardeners share tomato plants with community

ALBUQUERQUE – It may sound like a trick question: What do you do with 2,000 tomato plants when an in-person fundraiser sale is cancelled?

New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service Master Gardeners in Bernalillo County were faced with this question when the state implemented a stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, canceling the planned event after the volunteers raised 2,000 plants from seeds.

When the seeds were planted in February, the plans were for a sale the last week of April.

The tomato plants were part of the partnership between Dan Humbles, Albuquerque city horticulturist, and the Albuquerque Area Extension Master Gardener volunteers. They also planted hundreds of flower seeds. As these plants grew, their destination was planned for city parks and other city areas.

As the tomato plants sprouted, Master Gardener Kathy Clough, city greenhouse volunteer activity co-chair, began planning the annual fundraiser tomato plant sale.

“The plant sale is one of the Master Gardeners’ most significant activities as a fundraiser,” said Sara Moran, NMSU Extension horticulture agent in Bernalillo County. “It is usually held at the Albuquerque Garden Center.”

In the early days of the fast-changing response to the pandemic, plans were made to have a pre-paid drive-thru sale at the Bernalillo County Extension office at 1510 Menaul Blvd NW.

“Customers would be asked to come at a specific time according to their last name, drive through the office parking lot and their plants would be loaded into their vehicle,” Clough said.

As additional restrictions on in-person gatherings were implemented by the university administration, the drive-thru event was cancelled.

But what to do with the 2,000 plants was still the question at hand.

Clough came up with an answer – give them away.

“Kathy organized the giveaway with several programs adopting plants,” Moran said. “Kid gardening groups and Albuquerque’s Barrett House women and children shelter are a couple of the projects that took the plants.”

But there were still plants left. Three pickup truck loads of plants needed homes.

Master Gardener volunteers, who had cared for the plants, were invited to take what they wanted to share with others. But there were still more to give away.

During an April 22 telephone meeting with the Bernalillo County Community Service staff, Cindy Schlenker Davies, NMSU Bernalillo County Extension program director, shared the story about the plants in search of a garden.

Two days later, the plants were on the move from Albuquerque’s city greenhouses to the county extension office, where Bernalillo County staff members picked them up for distribution at the Grab and Go food sites on April 28 and 29.

“While the original plan did not work, we are happy to share these plants with county residents,” Moran said. “We recognize the many benefits of growing plants, and we are proud to support community gardening efforts. Who knows, some families may be gardening and growing their own tomatoes this year for the very first time.”

Author: Jane Moorman – NMSU

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NMSU Extension to host two food safety trainings for produce growers

No one growing produce wants to inadvertently make people ill because of poor food safety practices.

Two training sessions will be held in New Mexico to help fruit and vegetable growers meet the regulatory requirements included in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act Produce Safety Rule.

New Mexico State University’s Cooperative Extension Service and the Southwest Border Food Protection and Emergency Preparedness Center, housed at NMSU, are offering produce safety rule training in Las Cruces on Wednesday, March 4; and Albuquerque on Thursday, March 19.

The Product Safety Rule requires at least one supervisor or person responsible for the farm to have successfully completed food safety training in accordance with the annual monetary value of produce the farm sold during the previous three years.

“This is a one-day event that is intended for fruit and vegetable producers and importers who grow, harvest, pack or hold produce and fruit that is usually consumed raw, and who sell more than $25,000 per year,” said Bob Silver with the Southwest Border Food Protection and Emergency Preparedness Center.

Participants who complete the course receive a certificate from the Association of Food and Drug Officials that verifies they have completed the training. The certificate is also useful for meeting buyer requirements for food safety.

Participants receive a course manual that is a useful reference for farm safety practices and to develop a farm safety plan.

The Product Safety Alliance grower training in New Mexico will be:

– March 4: Las Cruces Convention Center, 680 E. University Avenue, Las Cruces. Online registration payment due by Feb. 28
– March 19: NMSU Bernalillo County Cooperative Extension Service, 1510 Menaul Blvd, Albuquerque. Online registration payment due by March 13.

All training sessions are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Online registration cost is $35. At-the-door registration is $50, which includes training manual and certification of course completion.

To register online click here. For more information, visit the website or call Janet Witte, 575-646-5949.

The trainings are sponsored by NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences and New Mexico Department of Agriculture.

Author: Jane Moorman – NMSU

NMSU’s NM EDGE Offers first-of-its-kind Extension Professional Training

One of New Mexico EDGE’s newest certification programs is designed to help New Mexico State University’s new Cooperative Extension Service specialists and agents to learn the organizational ropes of their new jobs.

NM EDGE, which stands for Education Designed to Generate Excellence in the Public Sector, provides county and state officials with professional programming.

“The training for newly elected officials has been so effective that the extension service leadership thought it would be good for their new employees,” said Mary DeLorenzo, NM EDGE program director.

When Natalie Goldberg joined NMSU’s College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences faculty, she thought she knew what extension was, but she now admits she didn’t fully understand what it meant to be an extension specialist.

“Specialists, while they have a degree in a field of agriculture, may not always have exposure to the extension service unless during their graduate studies they worked for somebody that has an extension appointment,” said Goldberg, NMSU Extension plant pathologist and Extension Plant Sciences department head. “So when they graduate and get an extension job, the learning curve is huge in understanding what working for the extension service really means.”

The New Mexico Certified Extension Professional designation is the first of its kind in the nation. To earn this designation, the specialist or agent must take 24 three-hour classes; six are specific to extension service, and the rest come from the certified public manager curriculum offered by NM EDGE.

The specific classes address the history and philosophy of extension, demystifying the NMSU system, civil rights in extension work, extension program development and evaluation, effective delivery of extension programs, and excelling in extension performance documentation.

“The curriculum was created by looking at the extension service’s need and determining what could be filled by certified public manager curriculum and what needed to be created,” DeLorenzo said of the program development.

“After the first round of course delivery, we realized we could improve the program by making it progressive, so each class wasn’t having to give the same background information,” DeLorenzo said.

Each class builds on the previous classes.

“This delivery method is better if the entire six classes are offered in a two- or three-day period,” DeLorenzo said. “Taking all of the CES classes at one time makes a lot more sense and it is more effective.”

NMSU Extension weed specialist Leslie Beck found the program very beneficial.

“I was in my second week at NMSU,” said Beck, who came from Purdue University. “I found it to be extremely helpful. It was a crash course in how things are done here. It also gave me an opportunity to meet other specialists and agents who I will be working with in the future.”

Luther Dunlap, Curry County agricultural agent, had worked in the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, so he knew how to be an agent. But he found the information about how NMSU’s College of ACES is organized and what it expected of him very valuable.

“Sometimes we’re a little different from other extension organizations, because of their state’s values,” said Jon Boren, NMSU assistant dean and extension service director. “When the agents take the certified public manager portion of the curriculum, they have an opportunity to meet their county’s officials and begin developing a professional network.”

Boren and the College of ACES leadership believe this professional training will improve the delivery of extension programming in the state.

“We believe this is so vital to reaching our land-grant mission of taking research-based information to the state’s citizens that we are now requiring all new specialists and agents to take the classes,” Boren said.

Author: Jane Moorman – NMSU

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