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…]

Plant sale on tap at Rutgers Day

Excitement is building as we approach the 250th anniversary celebration of Rutgers University this Saturday, April 30. Since 1906, "Ag Field Day" on G.H Cook Campus in New Brunswick has been celebrating the spirit and accomplishments of Rutgers among the School of Environmental and Biological Science students, staff, alumni, volunteers, and residents… Bill Hlubik is a Rutgers University professor and Middlesex County Agricultural Agent; Gillian Armstrong is a research assistant for  Rutgers Cooperative Extension, NJAES, Rutgers University.

Read the entire article at Gannett New Jersey »

New OCPE Summer Weekend Programs Help Au Pairs Earn Academic Credit Toward J-1 Visa Requirements

Photo: Jerremdinne.

Photo: Jerremdinne.

School may be out for the children they care for, but  the classroom is open for au pairs interested in fulfilling their J-1 visa academic requirements by enrolling in new Rutgers weekend summer programs.

To introduce them to one aspect of American culture, au pairs can register for “American Food – Then and Now,” an opportunity on July 30-31 to explore the technological and societal factors that have changed what and how Americans eat over the past 250 years. The interactive course features lunchtime tastings and visits to a research farm and food science research facility.

For those seeking to build their childcare skills, a second weekend course, “The Children in Your Care – Make them the Best they can be,” will offer tips, tools and techniques for encouraging healthy, positive lifestyles for children. The Aug. 6-7 program will cover cooking and fitness for children, as well as strategies for keeping the peace when challenging situations arise.

Both courses were developed by the Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education (OCPE) in cooperation with Rutgers Cooperative Extension and will be held on the George H. Cook Campus. Cooperative Extension specialists with backgrounds in community outreach, child and youth development, and food, nutrition and health will be instructors. Each program will provide three of the six hours of academic credit that au pairs are required to earn under the J-1 visa. [Read more…]

Where to Find Rutgers 250 Plant Varieties

Plant Sale at Ag Field Day/ Rutgers Day

Plant Sale at Ag Field Day/ Rutgers Day

Recently, there has been a lot of news about Rutgers plant varieties, especially the ‘Rutgers 250’TM tomato and ‘Rutgers Scarlet’TM strawberry. What you might not know is where to find them.

Whether you are an experienced home gardener or are just starting out, it’s the time of year to start preparing garden beds and getting containers ready for planting. Specifically, it is recommended to start planting outdoors in New Jersey on or after May 15. Word to the wise: based on this year’s strange weather pattern, take extra precautions to protect your young plants from high winds and heavy rain.

Upcoming plant sales will have lots of great varieties to choose from, all suitable for New Jersey’s growing zones. You will find a Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) information booth at these events with material about this year’s highlighted varieties. Rutgers Master Gardeners will also be in attendance to help you get started. [Read more…]

Fish exchange set to start back up in Lyndhurst

After a winter hiatus, a fish exchange program that allows people to swap fish caught in the Passaic River for tilapia raised in Newark is set to start back up. The fish exchange is operated by the Rutgers VETS program and funded by the Lower Passaic Cooperating Parties Group (CPG), an organization of different entities believed responsible for contaminating the Passaic River. The lower 17-mile stretch of the Passaic River, from Dundee Dam in Garfield to the mouth of the Newark Bay, is an Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Site… Amy Rowe, Ph.D, is part of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension and helps direct the training.

Read the entire article at The Record »