What’s in Season from the Garden State: The Historic Rutgers Tomato Gets Re-invented in University’s 250th Anniversary Year

Breeder of the 'Rutgers' tomato, Lyman Schermerhorn (left) in a field of tomatoes (circa 1930s)

Breeder of the ‘Rutgers’ tomato, Lyman Schermerhorn (left) in a field of tomatoes (circa 1930s)

Of the hundreds of varieties of tomatoes grown by home gardeners or commercial growers, there are a few standards that have become household names. One of those is the ‘Rutgers’ tomato – a leading home garden and processing variety of the 20th century. While the Rutgers tomato is no longer commercially grown for canned tomato production, it is still a favorite among home gardeners and widely available from seed catalogs and garden centers.

The development of the Rutgers tomato is a lesson in the history of the early 20th century industries of canning and agriculture and a chapter in the story of the famed Jersey tomato. Introduced in 1934 by Rutgers vegetable breeder Lyman Schermerhorn, the variety was named for the university where it was developed. The name, however, belies the tomato’s origins, for the original cross was made at the Campbell Soup Company in 1928, with leading processing tomatoes as the parent varieties. In cooperation with Campbell’s, Schermerhorn selected the best plants from the cross and for the next six years conducted field tests on New Jersey farms and made further selections until in 1934 the most superior selection was released as the ‘Rutgers’ tomato.

At the time of the tomato release, the tomato canning industry was predominant in New Jersey, which went hand in hand with local tomato production. In the book Souper Tomatoes, author Andrew F. Smith described the industry as it first gained a foothold in New Jersey in the late 1800s, “Most farms in southern New Jersey from Trenton to Cape May cultivated tomatoes…Wagons and carriages of every description filled the roads on their way to the canneries. The roads were virtually painted red with squashed tomatoes that fell from the wagons. Most towns had one or more canneries.” [Read more…]

Rutgers researchers nurture young trees in hopes of reviving American chestnut

As Arbor Day is observed Friday, Rutgers University researchers are making efforts to bring back a species of tree that used to be among the tallest along the Eastern Seaboard. American chestnuts made up about a quarter of Northeast forests until a fungus from trees imported from Asia in the late 19th century wiped them out, said Christina Kaunzinger, a senior ecologist at Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences… Rutgers plant biology professor Brad Hillman hopes restoration attempts will succeed. "It would be terrific to see some of the same types of landscapes as in the 1800s and 1700s. It was an important part of the forestry system at the time for a good reason," Hillman said.

Read the entire article at newsworks »

Tropical plant called moringa shows promise in health, anti-aging products

lya Raskin is seeking cures and treatments for ailments afflicting hundreds of millions of people. And he’s trying to find them – along with anti-aging and other beneficial compounds – in myriad plants in 20 countries on four continents. Raskin’s laboratory at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences studies the health benefits of crops and medicinal plants.

Read the entire article at Phys.org »

WATER ADVOCATES ISSUE ‘WORKPLAN’ TO HELP WITH MASSIVE SYSTEM UPGRADE

Advocates for improving New Jersey’s aging water infrastructure released their latest plan for fixing it on Wednesday, urging public and private utilities to fix leaks, stop sewage overflows, and prevent flooding during storms — and offering them advice on how to do it…. Dan Van Abs, a Rutgers University professor who sits on the group’s steering committee, said some utilities are already making the necessary changes, and that Jersey Water Works is aiming to facilitate that process.

Read the entire article at NJ Spotlight »

Saba Tabasoom (SEBS ’16): Gaining Strength and Support on Her Rutgers Journey

Saba Tabasoom

Saba Tabasoom

By Samuel Ludescher (SAS ’17)

Graduating with a degree from Rutgers is an invitation into lofty intellectual circles. It is also evidence that the recipient of a diploma has braved the course load of his or her respective major. Saba Tabasoom, however, has braved much more over her ten-year college career. She graduated in January 2016 from Rutgers as a pre-med student with a degree in biology—and a letter of congratulations from assistant dean of academic programs Penny Carlson— the culmination of a journey that began at the Dhaka National Medical College in 2006, in Bangladesh.

Saba was in her first year of college and preparing to become a doctor, when a young man took interest in her. The man approached Saba’s parents to ask for her hand in marriage, which is common etiquette in Bangladesh. Yet, he quickly was discerned as a threat to Saba’s well-being. Seeing this, Saba’s mother heeded her daughter’s pleas and denied the man’s request to wed. The refusal frustrated him and his family also took it as disrespect. He began to stalk Saba and threaten her, often telling her he would throw acid on her. [Read more…]