Rutgers Scarlet Strawberry-Infused Beer? Say Cheers!


Jake Makely in the strawberry fields at the EARTH Center of Middlesex County.

A desire to connect local growers with producers was the driving force behind Jake Makely’s (SEBS ’16) idea to combine two of New Jersey’s favorite warm weather delights, strawberries and beer.

Makely, an agriculture and food systems major, has been a student intern in Applied Analysis of Successful Agricultural Enterprises since February 2014, which has provided him with first-hand experience in working with the Rutgers Scarlet Strawberry (RSS) at the EARTH Center of Middlesex County. The internship, run by Professor and Agricultural Agent Bill Hlubik, truly allows students to pursue their individual aspirations in the “field.”

A series of blind RSS taste-tests were conducted at SEBS professor Beverly Tepper’s Sensory Evaluation Laboratory (SEL) on George H. Cook Campus. Makely, along with other students in the program, picked and cut up pounds of the RSS for the taste tests and delivered them to the lab. Participants were able to comment on the sweetness, acidity, overall flavor, firmness and aroma of four varieties of the strawberry, and the results were overwhelmingly positive.

The wheels in Makely’s head started spinning when he received an email from his second job at Carton Brewing Company in Atlantic Highlands, NJ, about a new device coming to the brewery. The brewery was going to begin using a Randall, which is a double-chamber filter that can be connected to a tap of beer and filled with flavor-enhancing ingredients.

“I kept talking to my co-workers at the Carton Brewing Company about the idea of using Rutgers Scarlet Strawberries in the Randall, but people didn’t take it as seriously as I wanted them to. Then I spoke to Bill (Hlubik) and he was excited about it – and I knew it was a great idea,” said Makely.

“The students in my class are incredible and I genuinely value their feedback. I encourage them to keep a notebook handy while in the field to note trends in crops,” said Hlubik. [Read more…]

Cumberland County 4-H Presents at National Marine Educators Conference

4-H Agent Julie Karavan works with youth on SeaPerch Robotics Project (club photo).

4-H Agent Julie Karavan (at top) works with youth on SeaPerch Robotics Project. Photo credit: Cumberland County 4-H.

County 4-H Agent Julie Karavan was awarded the Expanding Audiences Scholarship, which allowed her to attend the National Marine Educators Association Conference in Newport, Rhode Island, held June 29-July 2. Karavan presented two professional development workshops related to her extension teaching and practice in Cumberland County.

Her presentation, Aquatic Robotics, was offered educators information and hands-on experience relating to two marine robotics platforms Karavan has taught: SeaPerch and Waterbotics. She adapted the Waterbotics curriculum for younger audiences at the Millville Schools Club 21st Century Program in July of 2014, reaching over 40 students. A shortened version of the program was also offered at the 4-H Center to 20 Bridgeton Pathways 21st Century summer camp students. While serving as County 4-H Agent in Cape May, Karavan fielded three award winning teams to the Greater Philadelphia SeaPerch Challenge and utilized the PVC-based underwater robots in school enrichment programs. [Read more…]

What’s in Season from the Garden State: Summer Picnic Foods Should Not Be Brown and White

FmMkt_HildPk_17It’s summertime in Jersey and the landscape bursts into a symphony of color: greenery, flowers, blue skies and water, beach umbrellas, fireworks. And then you go to a picnic or barbeque. All of a sudden the tableau turns to a drab brown and white: Hot dogs. Hamburgers. Buns. Potato salad. Cole slaw. Cola. Lemon-lime soda. Brownies. Ho hum. That would be fine fixings in America’s heartland, where wheat and cattle and corn for high fructose corn syrup are grown, but this is New Jersey – the Garden State. We can improve on that. Let’s do a picnic makeover Jersey-style.

We asked Rutgers Cooperative Extension faculty for some suggestions for turning up the color on a Jersey picnic/barbeque. Here’s what they suggest: [Read more…]

Extension Introduces NJ Residents to Raising Backyard Chickens (Video)

Video: Backyard Chicken Farming Growing in New Jersey

Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County hosted a workshop with Extension Specialist Joe Heckman demonstrating what it takes to raise a small flock of chickens in a backyard. Heckman offered advice on everything from types of chicken coops to the nutritional benefits of raising food on pasture. The class was one of the first in a new series called the Backyard Farmers Workshop offered by Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County. Read more at Rutgers Today.

Rutgers 4-H Hosts Azerbaijani Youth Learning About Democracy and Entrepreneurship

County agent, Alayne Torretta, 2nd from left and Azeris meet with Gregory Marcus, in suit and tie in back, from the US Department of State.

County agent, Alayne Torretta, 2nd from left and Azeris meet with Gregory Marcus, in suit and tie in back, from the US Department of State.

Over the course of three weeks in June this year, 18 youth and two adult educators from Azerbaijan participated in a Youth Leadership Program funded by the U.S. Department of State and facilitated by the 4-H programs of University of Delaware and Rutgers University. During this exchange program, which focused on the general themes of civic education, leadership development, entrepreneurship, and community service, the Azerbaijani youth toured parts of the U.S., learning about democracy and hearing tips and tricks from successful entrepreneurs from New Jersey.

Each of the entrepreneurs the youth heard from had their own methodology for success. One family owned business, Wild West City – a theme park in Netcong, NJ, has been tremendously successful in keeping true to the mission set forth in 1963, while another amusement park ,the Land of Make Believe in Hope, NJ, found success in expanding and growing. “Each of them gave the youth sage advice: Stay focused and realize that no job is beneath you,” said Alayne Torretta, County 4-H Agent for Rutgers Cooperative Extension and program coordinator for the Rutgers grant. In addition, they met entrepreneur Carol Bailey who holds a patent in England for reusable shopping bags that fold into one another called Shopparoos. She spoke with the teens about patenting great ideas and how to market them by keying in on their unique selling point. “We were able to take advantage of the New Ventures and Entrepreneurship program at Rutgers as well,” said Torretta, “Lori Dars was amazing and got the kids thinking of how to write a business plan. They also met a graduate student entrepreneur who spoke about the exciting work he is doing. Several of the teens expressed interest in attending Rutgers once they are finished with schooling in Azerbaijan. [Read more…]