Horticulture

From food desert to community oasis

Posted on
Thursday, August 12, 2021

Labeled a food desert by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Fairmont community in Griffin, Georgia, has historically had slim options for sourcing fresh, nutritious food nearby. But this desert is becoming an oasis of fresh fruits and vegetables thanks to a group of dedicated agencies and volunteers who have worked hard for nearly 10 years to create a thriving community garden.

The Healthy Life Community Garden — which was established in 2012 — began as a partnership between the city of Griffin, the Fairmont Community, Griffin Housing Authority, the local chapter of the NAACP, Spalding County, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office in Spalding County, and UGA’s Center for Urban Agriculture (CUA). Funding for the project comes from a yearly grant from the Griffin Housing Authority and covers the cost of supplies for operating the garden and a garden manager.

Irrigation benefits both newly planted and established peach trees in UGA study

Posted on
Tuesday, April 27, 2021

While peach orchards are a common sight throughout middle and south Georgia — helping the Peach State live up to its name — peach producers need more than just the title to ensure that both long-established groves and newly planted fields are successful.

Dario Chavez and his research team in the Department of Horticulture on the University of Georgia Griffin campus are working to answer that question. Beginning in 2014, Chavez, along with then-graduate student Bruno Casamali, began working on improving Irrigation and fertilization management practices for young peach trees in the Southeastern U.S. after finding there was no up-to-date information available. Traditionally, irrigation management relied solely on rainfall, which is not always predictable.

“People always think the Southeast gets a lot of rain, but the rain we do get is very variable,” said Chavez. “Sometimes you have a lot of rain and other times you go for long periods without it.”

Pruning tips for ornamental plants

Posted on
Friday, November 6, 2020

To prune or not to prune, that is the question. Pruning is an important part of maintaining plant health and maximizing plant productivity. This is often a topic that brings fear and confusion, but pruning is, in fact, a beneficial and routine task.

Ornamental plants in the home landscape are pruned for several reasons, including maintaining a desired size or shape; promoting healthy, vigorous growth, flowering or fruiting; and removing sections damaged by insects, disease or weather. Each plant in the landscape has its own growth habit and different requirements for pruning. Some shrubs have dwarf growth habits and may never require pruning, while vigorous, large-growing shrubs may require frequent pruning. Anyone can prune, but not everyone prunes properly.

Improper pruning, or pruning at the wrong time of the year, can result in misshapen plants, reduced flowering or plants that are more likely to be damaged by insects, diseases or winter cold. Because flowering ornamentals form their flower buds at different times of year, pruning times must be adjusted accordingly.

Many spring-flowering plants such as azalea, dogwood, forsythia, redbud and rhododendron set flower buds in the fall, so pruning during the fall or winter months eliminates or decreases their spring flower display.

Georgia Master Gardener program seeks public input

Posted on
Friday, October 9, 2020

You may have relied on advice from a Georgia Master Gardener Extension Volunteer in the past. Now they want your input to make plans for the future.

A number of novice gardeners, or gardeners who haven’t gotten their boots in the dirt recently, have reached out to Master Gardeners for recommendations during the pandemic. These new gardeners may also have tuned in to Master Gardener webinar presentations or connected via social media to stay engaged with other gardeners.

“People turn to plants and gardening because it makes them happy, it can provide a source of food, it gives them a sense of accomplishment and it’s something they can do alone or as a family,” explained State Master Gardener Coordinator Sheri Dorn, who is based at the University of Georgia Griffin campus.

The volunteer program, coordinated by UGA Cooperative Extension, reached its 40-year milestone in 2019. Now Dorn and other program organizers want public input as part of their comprehensive strategic planning process to shape the next decade.

“Citizen participation is critical to Extension,” said Dorn. “Plants and horticulture have been huge this year due to the pandemic, and people may not know that we have this unique volunteer program. People with enthusiasm for gardening can partner with us to increase their knowledge and also help others, so we’re looking for people who may be interested to give us input for future Master Gardener program development.”

UGA’s Ellen Bauske receives national horticulture outreach honor

Posted on
Friday, August 14, 2020

Ellen Bauske is a boundary spanner — she’s known as a person who brings people and organizations together on national, regional and local levels.

It’s one of the many reasons she received the American Society of Horticultural Science’s 2020 Extension Educator of the Year Award, which recognizes an educator who has made an outstanding contribution to extension education in horticulture for more than 10 years.

Bauske serves as a program coordinator for the University of Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. She has helped develop innovative programming in a variety of disciplines, including integrated pest management, water, consumer horticulture, Master Gardener Extension Volunteer training, community gardens, landscape and tree care worker safety.

"Ellen Bauske is a doer,” said Dan Suiter, who is chair of the center’s faculty advisory committee. “Her formal training is in plant pathology, but she has been very adaptable in the many years she's been with the Center for Urban Agriculture. She, like no one I've known, can get people to move as a group in the direction of accomplishment. It's a rare skill."

Harald Scherm, head of the Department of Plant Pathology, agrees. “Ellen has consistently reinvented herself and her Extension programming during the past 15 years,” he said. “She has been remarkably responsive to emerging needs and opportunities.”

UGA’s Dario Chavez spotlighted in Fruit Growers News 40 Under 40 class

Posted on
Monday, August 10, 2020

University of Georgia researcher Dario Chavez has been named to the Fruit and Vegetable 40 Under 40 Class of 2020 by Fruit Growers News. The prestigious honor places Chavez within a small group of young professionals who are making remarkable contributions within the industry.

A native of Riobamba, Ecuador, and part of an accomplished farm with a lineage spanning four generations, Chavez began his stint at UGA in 2014 as a researcher and UGA Cooperative Extension specialist.  He has since implemented groundbreaking research focusing on plant production and environmental sustainability with a focus on one of Georgia’s key crops — peaches.

“The UGA peach research and extension program in the Department of Horticulture had been vacant for almost eight years before my hire,” said Chavez. “One of my major accomplishments is the setup and establishment of a functional research and extension program from scratch.”

At age 36, his achievements in the peach industry have been remarkable and deserving of the important award, which he describes as “an honor and a great recognition.” His peers at UGA have since echoed the praise.

Cooperative Extension Faculty named PSO Fellow

Posted on
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Svoboda “Bodie” Vladimirova Pennisi, a full professor and UGA Cooperative Extension Specialist at the UGA Griffin campus, will work with the Small Business Development Center to implement online learning opportunities. Pennisi’s online business training module will be designed to help entrepreneurs and managers run a successful landscape management business by covering critical topics such as financials, marketing, cost estimating, employee retention and customer service, all catered to the landscape management field. In the future, the module will be used across UGA Extension and adopted for a new online class for undergraduate students. An experienced online educator, Pennisi will apply her horticulture and landscape expertise to help small businesses across Georgia.

UGA Griffin Young Scholars Program welcomes 20 students for 2018

Posted on
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The 2018 Young Scholars Program kicked off on Monday, June 4th at the University of Georgia Griffin Campus with 20 students participating in the six-week internship program. High school students from the region were selected from a pool of 86 applicants to participate in YSP where they will spend the summer working alongside world-renowned research scientists at UGA Griffin.

This year we have eight returning young scholars: Austin Duncan, Tamara English, Mary Grace Johnson, Maddox Jordan, Sheilendria Rawls, Jolie Ryff, Martha Sikora and Sarah Smyly. Joining YSP for the first time are: William Anong, Samuel Cross, Joshua Duffey, Taaseen Khan, Yuheon Lee, Lauren Moyer, Meghan Rogers, Emily Shi, Melanie Wagner, Robert “Lee” Wall, Dean Watson and Caroline Zhang. The students will spend Monday through Thursday working with their mentors and on Fridays they will have exploratory site visits to various areas on campus and work-shops from insightful presenters about college/life skills.

UGA RESEARCHERS TRAVEL DOWN UNDER TO COLLECT RASPBERRY AND PEACH SEEDS

Posted on
Friday, May 4, 2018

University of Georgia horticulturists Rachel Itle and Dario Chavez recently traveled to Australia to collect seeds from wild raspberries and peaches to bring back to the UGA Griffin campus. As scientists in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Itle and Chavez research Georgia-grown fruit.

High school students complete one-year mentorship program at UGA-Griffin

Posted on
Friday, April 28, 2017

Last summer, seven seniors from Pike County High School (PCHS) in Zebulon, Georgia, with an aptitude for science made a commitment to work alongside University of Georgia Griffin campus scientists three days a week for the entire school year. This month, they will complete their yearlong partnership.

The students, Courtney Bagwell, Dylan Blohm, Abigail Chasteen, Nikki Dodson, Megan Pitts, Taylor Thomas and Talisa Watts, are the first group to take part in the off-campus internship. 

"The beauty and the flexibility of the (Pike County STEM) Academy is that we have a lot of standards, but we can pick and choose the ones that fit with science and math, and then add in the technology and the engineering through agriculture," said Greg Waits, the program's coordinator and the agriculture education teacher at the high school. 

Students are selected for the program based on their test scores in math and science. Then they take advanced classes in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) areas during their freshman, sophomore and junior years before participating in the off-campus experience at UGA-Griffin. 

Formally, the students earn Advanced Placement science credits for participating. They also gain a wealth of information and personal experience.