Could urban farming provide a much-needed oasis in the Tulsa food desert?

Oklahoma ranks among the worst in the US for national fruit and vegetable consumption, and has one of the lower average national hourly wages: US $7.25… Tulsa, a city of nearly 400,000, is considered one of the nation’s worst food deserts (places with officially "low access" to supermarkets). "Urban farming is one piece of many bigger issues like structural inequality, pollution, health issues, and investment in these communities," says Laura Lawson, dean of the office of agriculture and urban programmes at Rutgers University. "People can get involved in the community, and that is a really great thing, but it is not going to resolve the larger community problems that are shaping the food desert issue."

Read the entire article at The Guardian »

Rutgers is leader in designing new varieties of turf grass

SEPTEMBER IS prime time for starting or renovating lawns, and it may be the only time that homeowners give lawn grass a second thought… New Jersey has stepped up, claiming a nationally prominent role in designing new grass varieties for temperate climates around the world. The Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station maintains several sites at which turf grass is grown, managed and studied, but the heart of the breeding operation that produces new breakthroughs is a 206-acre site in Adelphia (Howell Township), much of it presenting an unbroken expanse of mowed "lawn." "They call this the country club," says William Meyer, director of the Turfgrass Breeding Project for the past 20 years. "It may look like one big lawn, but there are actually 40,000 3-foot by 5-foot plots of individually distinct grasses. And each one is rated every month."

Read the entire article at NJ.com »

Moore Foundation Grants $1.2 Million to Support Progress on Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal

Coastal recreation and boating.

Screenshot of coastal recreation and boating mapping data on the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal.

Funding will support collaboration by Rutgers, The Nature Conservancy and Monmouth University’s Urban Coast Institute.

The Monmouth University Urban Coast Institute (UCI) has received a $1.2 million Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation grant to continue the development of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal (portal.midatlanticocean.org), a free, state-of-the-art mapping and information site focused on ocean areas from New York through Virginia. The funding will support the work of a project team consisting of researchers from Rutgers University’s Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy and the Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA), The Nature Conservancy and the UCI.

The grant will enable the UCI and its project partners to add valuable new content to the publicly accessible site in 2016 and 2017, including interactive maps depicting fishing areas, oceanography, tribal ocean uses and a trove of data that will illustrate marine life distributions and trends throughout the East Coast in greater detail than ever before. The Portal was initiated under the guidance of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Oceans (MARCO) with previous funding provided by the Moore Foundation in 2015 and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2012 and 2013.

[Read more…]

Three more Bergen towns join flood-plain protection plan

Bergen County freeholders voted unanimously Wednesday night to add Hackensack, Hillsdale and Ridgefield to a list of six other municipalities that joined the program last year. The county will pay $52,500 for contracts with Rutgers University and the Land Conservancy of New Jersey to assist the towns in creating plans for identifying the most flood prone properties and what to do with the land once the properties are acquired, said Adam Strobel, project manager in the county’s Open Space Division. Jeremiah Bergstrom, senior project manager for floodplain work with Rutgers, said that because money becomes available on a revolving basis through various state and federal programs, towns should have a plan in place to be ready to use the money as it comes through.

Read the entire article at The Record »

Crusader Without a Cape Sends Out the Bat Signal in New Jersey

On a recent night, somewhere in the swamps of Jersey, it was the children, primarily, who asked the hard questions. "Could a bat eat a human?" one girl asked. "Only on HBO," answered Joseph D’Angeli, who is known in some quarters as the Batman of New Jersey. Since 2006, white-nose syndrome, a fungal disease, has decimated the hibernating bat population in the Northeast. Brooke Maslo, a professor in the department of ecology, evolution, and natural resources at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., studies North American bats. She said in an interview that the disease had killed millions of bats in the United States. "When it first came through, the bats were just dead on the floor of the caves," she said. "And now there’s just the skeletons. It’s like walking though a graveyard," she said.

Read the entire article at The New York Times »

Rutgers Department of Food Science Celebrates its 70th Birthday

Food Science Building wtih Rutgers 250 Banner.

Food Science Building with Rutgers 250 banner.

With one professor, one room, and two support staffers, the Department of Food Science opened its doors in 1946 to bring food-related science, education, and research to Rutgers. This year, the department celebrates its 70th anniversary…and its incredible evolution.

Looking back at the history of the Department of Food Science is much like hopping in a time machine and taking a journey through our culture’s relationship with food. In its earliest days—the late 1940s and early 1950s—researchers in the department focused primarily on food processing and canning technology, says professor and former chair Mukund Karwe. Slowly but surely, around the late 1990s and early 2000s, emphasis began to shift onto natural products and the natural functionality of foods (think of the health-boosting lycopene in a tomato for one example). Today, the emphasis has shifted yet again, and this time it’s onto food safety, food microbiology, and nutrition.

Food Science 4Outreach and Research

Take it from Donald Schaffner, extension specialist and distinguished professor in the department: bacteria touches everyone. “Bacteria don’t care whether they’re in your kitchen or in a food processing plant,” he says. “The work we do stretches from making sure that the food is safe in your kitchen, to making sure that restaurants, supermarkets, and food processors of all sizes are safe.”

[Read more…]

Rutgers EcoComplex: Building the Bioenergy Industry of New Jersey

EcoComplex Exterior.

Rutgers EcoComplex, a Clean Energy Innovation Center, is located in Bordentown, NJ.

The Rutgers EcoComplex is a nationally recognized center for sustainable biomass energy business incubation and clean energy cluster development. Designated a Clean Energy Innovation Center, it focuses on innovative bioenergy processes and was one of the first in the nation to serve as a university-based clean energy business incubator. It was recognized by the State of New Jersey with the “Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award” for setting a benchmark for top performance for the clean energy sector.

In keeping with the mission of NJAES, the EcoComplex takes a multi-pronged approach to building a sustainable bioenergy industry through applied research and demonstration, outreach and education, and business development. This facility proves that it “walks-the-talk” when it comes to bioenergy by conducting demonstration projects and helping start-up businesses further develop their technologies. Through these demonstrations, improvements can be made and the technologies verified to optimize their technical and economic performance. By offering these services and resources to entrepreneurs, the center helps to reduce barriers in the commercialization process.

[Read more…]

Trump’s Climate Proposals = "Existential Threat To This Planet," Michael Mann States

Donald Trump laid out his environmental policies in a speech last week in Bismark, North Dakota. As usual, The Donald spoke in broad generalities without giving specifics. He told his audience he would roll back President Obama’s climate change regulations, build the Keystone XL pipeline, and "cancel" the landmark Paris climate agreement… Other climate scientists were quick to echo Mann’s point of view. Jennifer Francis, a research professor at Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Science, noted that Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the Paris climate agreement are "absolutely critical steps in the right direction." She said reneging on the Paris climate agreement and rolling back the Clean Power Plan would be detrimental for future generations –  and to her personal patriotism.

Read the entire article at Clean Technica »

Trump Climate Policies Are An “Existential Threat To This Planet”

Donald Trump laid out his environmental policies in a speech last week in Bismark, North Dakota. As usual, The Donald spoke in broad generalities without giving specifics. He told his audience he would roll back President Obama’s climate change regulations, build the Keystone XL pipeline, and "cancel" the landmark Paris climate agreement… Jennifer Francis, a research professor at Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Science, noted that Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the Paris climate agreement are "absolutely critical steps in the right direction." She said reneging on the Paris climate agreement and rolling back the Clean Power Plan would be detrimental for future generations  – and to her personal patriotism.

Read the entire article at Gas 2 »

Cities as Novel Ecosystems: Adaptions to Urban Conditions

Are cities unnatural? Are urban landscapes disturbed or damaged? "There is no right answer. We can think of cities in many ways," says Dr. Paige S. Warren of the University of Massachusetts. "Cities are sources of novelty, hotpots of resource inputs, and drivers of evolutionary change.".. And what about the plants? With access to floras from 112 cities including both natural and spontaneous vegetation since 1975, Dr. Myla Aronson of Rutgers University along with the Urban Biodiversity Research Coordination Network (UrBioNet) is asking questions about the ways in which cities influence global, regional, and local patterns in plant diversity.

Read the entire article at PLOS Ecology Community blogs »