Avoid spreading boxwood disease when decorating for the holidays

Dr. Hong inspecting a boxwood bush.

Chuanxue Hong, Extension specialist in ornamental horticulture, reminds people to be cautious when decorating with boxwoods this holiday season so they don’t spread the boxwood blight.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is cautioning the public to take measures to avoid spreading the devastating boxwood blight when decorating for the holidays this year.

Clippings in wreaths and garlands have the capacity to spread the disease, which could decimate English and American boxwood populations along the East Coast.

Researchers say that boxwood blight could threaten the plants in the same way that the chestnut blight destroyed trees in the 1930s.

“The boxwood is not just a plant. It’s part of Virginia’s cultural heritage,” said Chuanxue Hong, Extension specialist in ornamental horticulture at the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center.

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Henrico County youth learn the business of babysitting

Teen participants sitting at a table with baby dolls.

More than 240 youth have completed babysitting training since the Henrico County program began in in 2010.

The young entrepreneurs who attended Virginia Cooperative Extension’s babysitting training in Henrico County got more than just a new set of babysitting skills — they got a sense of confidence.

“It was a great learning experience. It was informative and all-around fun,” said one Henrico County participant who is starting to earn money by babysitting.

But while babysitting can be an excellent source of additional income, it can also be difficult work full of various unplanned events. Participating in babysitting training can help youth be better prepared for the job.

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Campbell County pesticide certification program for inmates yields promising results

For inmates leaving prison, reintegrating into the community is a challenging transition — not only in Virginia, but nationwide. After spending time behind bars, prisoners can find it difficult to reconnect with family members, find employment, and resist the behavior that resulted in their imprisonment.

Virginia Cooperative Extension agents in Central Virginia had already been working with the staff and inmates at the greenhouse and garden facilities at Rustburg Correctional Unit 9 in Campbell County for several years and saw a need to further support inmates in their community re-entry efforts. They decided to implement a pesticide applicator certification program designed to equip inmates with job skills to make it easier for them to find employment upon their release.

The certification program is a collaborative effort between the Virginia Department of Corrections, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Virginia Cooperative Extension.

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2016 Virginia Farm to Table Conference to be held Dec. 6-8 in Weyers Cave

The 2016 Virginia Farm to Table Conference — a three-day event focused on local and regional food and agriculture, practical applications for soil health and farm profitability, and other food system topics — will be held from Dec. 6-8.

The fifth annual conference will be held at Blue Ridge Community College’s Plecker Workforce Development Center in Weyers Cave, Virginia. The event brings together community partners and engaging speakers who have broad experience and knowledge of food, farming, and the environment to talk about the farm-to-table movement and how you can get involved.

“The Virginia Farm to Table Conference continues to have something for everyone attracted to issues surrounding food, farms, health, and communities,” said Kathy Holm, USDA-NRCS assistant state conservationist for field operations. “We will have thought-provoking speakers, stimulating panel discussions, networking opportunities, and wonderful locally sourced food available.”

Early-bird registration pricing is available until Nov. 30, and rates will increase significantly after that.

More details and registration are available at the conference website.

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Cooking and nutrition programming engages Fairfax and Arlington seniors

Kathryn Strong, family and consumer sciences Extension agent for Fairfax County, believes in the value of independent and health-conscious senior residents. To aid the growing population of seniors in their quest for healthier lifestyles, Strong has spearheaded senior cooking and nutrition programming in Fairfax and Arlington.senior-cooking

Strong’s senior cooking and nutrition workshops are held at senior centers and at faith-based and civic organizations around the community. Workshops incorporate cooking demonstrations, lectures, and discussions on a variety of topics. The programming emphasizes the benefits of healthy eating — particularly for seniors — which include reduced risks for heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, bone loss, cancer, and anemia. Eating well and being physically active also help to manage chronic diseases and can reduce high blood pressure, lower high cholesterol, and control blood glucose.

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