COVID-19

COVID-19 Trail Impact Report: April-May 2020

CT trail census logoCONNECTICUT TRAIL CENSUS RELEASES 

COVID-19 TRAIL IMPACT REPORT FOR APRIL-MAY 2020 

We are pleased to release the latest data on how several of the state’s most popular multi-use trails are being impacted by COVID-19. The new report documents trail use during April-May 2020 at 12 sites on multi-use trails in Connecticut, and compares use with the same period in 2019, as one indication of the changes in trail use occurring simultaneously with the outbreak of COVID-19. “The trend of increased trail use occurring simultaneously with the March outbreak of COVID-19 is continuing,” observed Charles Tracy, Coordinator for the Trail Census, “The Trail Census team wanted to share these initial findings as soon as the data was available.” Overall, three quarters of the trails participating in this study recorded an increase of greater than 50%, compared to April-May 2019.

The report released today is part of an ongoing trail research project conducted by the Connecticut Trail Census. Other Trail Census projects include “On the Trail” a new weekly podcast; organizing a multi-state conference on bicycle and pedestrian data collection; a new data visualization portal; and work on creating a statewide trails website.

The Connecticut Trail Census is a statewide volunteer-based data collection and education program. The program collects information about trail use through trail use counts recorded by infrared counters and user intercept surveys administered by trained volunteers. The goal is to develop an accurate picture of who uses trails in Connecticut, and to advance and inform new trail policy, design and construction throughout the state. 

Initiated in 2017 as a partnership between UConn Extension, Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments, Connecticut Greenways Council, and local trails advocacy organizations, the Trail Census has expanded to over 20 data collection sites on trails across the state. The program receives funding from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Recreational Trails Program. For more information, visit www.cttrailcensus.uconn.edu   

Link: COVID-19 Trail Impact Report: April-May 2020

Survey Impacts of COVID-19 on Agricultural Producers

Angus beef cattle crazing on horsebarn hill at UConn

Agricultural Producers: You are invited to participate in a research study. UConn Extension has many educational programs for agricultural producers. You may or may not have participated in these in the past. We are surveying agricultural producers to determine the impacts of COVID-19 on your agricultural business and what educational programs you need from UConn Extension and our partners because of COVID-19.

This study should take five minutes of your time. Your participation will be anonymous. The full information sheet and link to the survey is available at: https://bit.ly/AgCOVID_June

Mental Health Resources / Recursos Para Su Salud Conductual

stress spelled out with scrabble piecesThe COVID-19 virus has struck the nation unexpectedly. We recognize that taking care of your behavioral health during a pandemic can be a challenge. Worrying about your health and the health of your loved ones can cause extreme stress, fear, and anxiety.

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has provided many Mental Health Resources that include information and tips on how to take care of your behavioral health. Resources also include information and tips for caregivers, parents, and teachers on how to help children. 

For more resources visit:

https://store.samhsa.gov/

 

La pandemia de COVID-19 ha golpeado a la nación inesperadamente. Reconocemos que cuidar su salud conductual durante una pandemia puede ser un desafío. Preocuparse por su salud y la salud de sus seres queridos puede causar estrés, miedo, y ansiedad.

El Departamento de Salud Y Servicios Humanos de EE. UU. ha proporcionada muchos recursos que incluyen información y consejos en cómo cuidar su salud conductual. Los recursos también incluyen información y consejos para cuidadores, padres y maestros sobre cómo ayudar a los niños.

 Para más recursos visite:

https://store.samhsa.gov/

 

 

What to Know Before You Go: Visiting a Farm During COVID

strawberriesFacemasks and social distancing have become the norm in all parts of our lives. Farm stands, community supported agriculture (CSA) operations; farmers’ markets and pick-your-own operations have remained open despite the pandemic. However, the operations have changed to adhere to regulations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Before you visit the farm or farmers’ market, there are a few things the farmer wants you to
know:
Wear your mask at all times. We are responsible for the health and safety of our
family, workers, and all of our farm visitors. Everyone must comply.
Minimize the number of people in your group. Although parts of the operation
are outdoors, we still have to follow state and CDC guidelines on the number of
visitors on the farm at one time. Reducing the number of people in your group helps.
Keep your children close at all times. If you do bring your children, make sure
they stay with you the entire time.
Don’t eat at the farm. Do not eat anything at the farm. If it’s a pick-your-own
operation, do not eat any fruit in the field. Wait until you get home, wash the berries
or other produce and then eat it. Do not bring snacks from home to the farm either.
Visit http://www.foodsafety.uconn.edu/ for more information on food safety.
Leave your pets at home. We love our animals too, but in these challenging times
we cannot have them at our farms or farmers’ markets. If someone was sick, they
can increase the spread of disease. Please leave your dogs at home.
Practice physical distancing. Even though we are outside or picking in the field we
need to maintain our physical distances from others. Our farms and markets are
setting up signs and marking areas for physical distancing to the best of our ability.
Please help us out and stay conscious of your proximity to other farm visitors and
workers.
Stay home if you feel ill. Please help us keep everyone safe and healthy.
Smile. Even with your facemask on, we’ll know that you’re smiling. We can’t wait to
see you at the farm, and appreciate your continued support.

Although these challenging times have created a new normal for all of us, going to a farm stand, pick-your-own operation or farmers’ market can restore some semblance of normal activity. Farmers want you to visit and purchase products. Crops are ripening daily and we all want to enjoy some Connecticut grown foods. Keep these tips in mind as you visit the farm so we can all enjoy the best that our farms have to offer.
To find a farm operation near you visit http://ctgrownmap.com/.

Article by Stacey Stearns and Nancy Barrett

 

Project Expands Support for CT Shellfish Industry

Marc Harrell

Connecticut shellfish farmers who endured severe sales losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic are being offered the chance to earn income by working on a unique project to rehabilitate the state’s natural shellfish beds.

The project, developed by Connecticut Sea Grant and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, will employ shellfish farmers with vessels normally used to harvest oysters to instead raise and relocate oyster shell buried in silt and other materials off the bottom of the beds. The exposed oyster shell would then provide the preferred habitat for oyster larvae. The shellfish farmers would be compensated for a portion of their hours worked.

The project is the second phase of a three-part initiative to support shellfish farmers hurt by sales losses to restaurants and other key customers. At the same time farmers are being assisted, the natural shellfish beds that are the main source of oyster seed for Connecticut’s commercial and recreational beds will be restored to greater productivity. The natural beds span about 7,000 acres offshore in areas mainly from West Haven to Greenwich.

“We are pleased to have been able to secure new funds to support the aquaculture industry, using innovative avenues to provide some short-term cash flow for work that will enhance the productivity of natural beds in the future, with associated economic and ecological benefits,” said Sylvan De Guise, director of Connecticut Sea Grant.

Connecticut Sea Grant and the state Department of Agriculture collaboratively received $74,999 in federal funds from the National Sea Grant Office to fund the project, which is being supplemented with $50,474 worth of in-kind services. During the first phase of the project that began on May 6, shellfish farmers have been working on different areas of the natural beds than are being targeted in the second phase.

A third phase of the project, which would begin pending approval of additional federal funding, would compensate farmers for shellfish that have grown too large for consumer markets. Those shellfish would then be planted on closed portions of state and town shellfish beds across the state to repopulate those areas.

“Over the past four weeks, more than one dozen shellfish companies have actively rehabilitated the state’s public shellfish beds during phase one of this project plan,” said state Agriculture Commissioner Bryan P. Hurlburt. “The implementation of phase two within the next week will enable continuation of this critical work in shallower areas and provide producers with compensation through our collaboration with Connecticut Sea Grant.

“These efforts are crucial to ensuring the future sustainability of the state’s shellfish industry through enhanced management of Connecticut’s public seed beds and facilitating availability of oyster seed to the entire industry,” Hurlburt said.

The Department of Agriculture will continue to document the enhancement achieved through the rehabilitation efforts using a combination of vessel monitoring system data, landings reporting and via the deployment of an underwater video camera. The camera footage would document bottom conditions of those areas that have been worked versus baseline conditions in areas of the beds that remain untouched. Staff intend to document long-term recovery of beds by assessing conditions and oyster recruitment levels on project areas in subsequent seasons. The information will be used to develop best management practices for the natural oyster seed beds to achieve maximum production of oyster seed there in the future.

Shellfish companies interested in participating in the program should submit their request via email to David Carey, director of the Department of Agriculture Bureau of Aquaculture, at: David.Carey@ct.gov.

Original Post: https://seagrant.uconn.edu/2020/06/04/project-expands-support-for-ct-shellfish-industry/

Seafood survey could help further increase in demand

cover of Connecticut seafood survey publicationWith national data showing Americans have been eating more fish and shellfish during the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report on a survey of Connecticut residents’ seafood consumption habits and preferences offers timely information seafood dealers can use to help make the increase permanent.

The final report on the Connecticut Seafood Survey, a project to better understand current eating habits and how best to get more seafood into residents’ diets — especially shellfish, fish and seaweed from local waters — was released earlier this month to the Connecticut seafood industry. Key findings, based on anonymous surveys conducted in 2017 and 2018 of a cross-section of 1,756 residents, include:

  • About 50% of residents eat at least one meal of seafood per week.
  • About 15% of residents eat two or more meals of seafood per week.
  • Seventy-nine percent (79%) of residents eat shellfish.
  • Twenty-five percent (25%) of residents are interested in trying seaweed products.

Learn more about the CT Seafood Survey Report at:

https://seagrant.uconn.edu/?p=6361

Communities Feed Kids

Communities Feed Kids, Share your story advertisementThere are amazing stories from across Connecticut about the efforts being made to feed our communities.

Responding to COVID-19 requires generosity and ingenuity.

We recognize, more than ever, it is clear the roles schools play and the necessity of school meal programs to connect and serve healthy and local food with our communities.

Put local on Your Tray is teaming up with Northeast farm-to-school folks to collect stories and photos of how #CommunitiesFeedKids in this pandemic.

Our goal is to spread gratitude and inspiration for the hard work school nutrition professionals are doing to feed kids during the Covid-19 crisis, lifting up school meals and how critically important they are so we build toward a changed, more resilient system in the future. 

We invite you to share the story of your community feeding kids in response to COVID-19! #CommunitiesFeedKids

To learn more please visit:

https://putlocalonyourtray.uconn.edu/

 

 

Recommended Cleaning Agents to Kill Coronavirus in your Home

hand spraying a bottle of a cleaning/disinfectant solution in a home

Your kitchen cabinet may be stocked with adequate cleaning supplies to kill Coronaviruses, but you need to be careful as not all chemicals will work.

Each disinfecting chemical product has its own specific instructions. An important rule is that you should not immediately wipe a cleaning solution off as soon as you have sprayed it on a surface. It needs to sit for a specified period of time to kill viruses first. You do not need to spend a lot of money on supplies – you can buy bleach and make a simple bleach solution at home.

GENERAL DISINFECTING GUIDELINES

  • It is important to use detergent or soap and water on unclean surfaces before you disinfect them. There is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Disinfecting is what kills the viruses.
  • The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you do daily disinfecting for frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, keyboards, phones, toilets, sinks etc. Coronavirus can last up to 16 hours on surfaces so daily disinfecting is important
  • The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of household disinfectants that should be effective against Coronaviruses. A full list is at epa.gov.
  • These products will be labeled that they kill bacteria and viruses (for example Lysol and Clorox products).

BLEACH

  • The ONLY household product capable of killing Coronavirus is a diluted household bleach solution.
  • Check to be sure the Bleach is not past its expiration date.
  • NEVER mix bleach with ammonia or any other household cleaner. This can release dangerous fumes.
  • To prepare a bleach solution: Add 4 teaspoons Bleach per Quart of water. Let the solution sit on surfaces at least 1 minute and then give the surface a wipe. Use the solution within 24 hours (after that it loses its disinfecting effectiveness).
  • If you have Asthma or other breathing problems- be careful not breathing in this solution as it can give off fumes.

ALCOHOL

  • Alcohol in any form, including rubbing alcohol, can be used to kill Coronavirus. You should dilute alcohol with water, but you need to keep an alcohol concentration of around 70% alcohol to kill coronavirus. 100 % alcohol is actually less effective and it dries off from surfaces too fast.
  • Hard liquor, like Vodka is NOT effective. Vodka is 80 proof which means it is only 40% alcohol, that is not high enough to effectively kill Coronaviruses
  • Hand sanitizers (check the label) should have an alcohol concentration of at least 60% alcohol to kill Coronaviruses. Not all hand sanitizers will kill viruses.

NATURAL HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS

  • Vinegar (any kind), Baking Soda, Tea Tree Oil or any other Oils are NOT effective in killing Coronaviruses. Do NOT use these to disinfect your home

These tips can help you clean and disinfect your home to protect yourself and your loved ones. Paying attention to those products that are effective in killing Coronaviruses will protect your home. Cleaning and disinfecting every day on surfaces at home will kill these viruses.

 

Article by Sharon Gray

Updated May 1, 2020

 

References:

www.cdc.gov

www.epa.gov

www.rutgers.edu/news/dangers-homemade-cleaning

SBA Relief Program Q&A for Farmers

SBA powerpoint on relief programs for farmers opening slide

UConn Extension hosted a Q&A session with the Small Business Association (SBA) on relief programs available. You can view the powerpoint presentation slides and video of the full presentation.

This powerpoint from SBA does not include updated information that farms are now eligible for EIDL loan, so please disregard info on slides 13 and 19 that say otherwise.

Litchfield County 4-H Helps Distribute Dairy to Families in Need

Litchfield County 4-H to Help Distribute Yogurt and Sour Cream to Families in Need

Background Facts:

  • Because 30% of the fluid milk gets sold to restaurants, schools and institutions that are now closed, there is a huge surplus of fluid milk on the market now that cannot be further processed into more shelf stable products like dried milk and butter fast enough.
  • The price of milk for the farmers have dropped from $19.00 per hundred pounds to $13.00 per hundred pounds because of this.
  • Hundreds of dairy farms across the country are now forced to dump their milk because the dairy plants have such a surplus they have no room at the plants to store and process the milk because of the drop off in demand due to the closures. There are over 1,200 truckloads of milk being dumped every day across the country.
  • Some farms have no choice but to dump the milk that is in their bulk tanks that cannot be picked up by the processing plants in time, because they have to make room for the next milking of their cows.
  • Meanwhile, food pantries are in desperate need of more food to help provide nourishment for the increasing number of food insecure people, due to the pandemic and more people losing their jobs.
4-H members unloading milk from truck
Photo: Jill Davenport

The farm families who own Cabot Creamery Cooperative have generously donated over 23,000 pounds of yogurt and sour cream to the Litchfield County 4-H.  On Wednesday, April 29, 2020, pallets of sour cream and yogurt will be delivered to Litchfield High School, Danbury High School and Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Bank in New London. 4-H members from Litchfield and Fairfield Counties along with volunteers from Litchfield Community Center will be safely distributing the dairy products to local food pantries, homeless shelters and families in need throughout Litchfield County and elsewhere that same day. At the end of this effort, they will have moved 11,000 pounds of sour cream and 12,600 pounds of yogurt from the surplus inventory into the kitchens of families in need.

Litchfield County 4-H, the youth development component of UConn Extension, had already chosen their 2020 theme for the year, which is Operation Community Impact, with an emphasis on food insecurity in January. By coordinating this activity, 4-H members are able to see firsthand how important the community service efforts of 4-H is in order to can make a difference in the lives of others. They hope to secure more donations of milk and other dairy products to continue this effort over the next few weeks for as long as needed. Bill Davenport, Litchfield County 4-H UConn Extension Educator, who grew up on a dairy farm in Litchfield and owns dairy cows in his brother’s herd in Ancram, New York, came up with the idea after learning about the milk surplus and some farms having to dump their milk because of the pandemic.

He organized this effort from securing the donation to organizing the deliveries to Litchfield, Danbury and New London counties as well as assembling the volunteer drivers to the food pantries. He also credits the following individuals without whose help this effort would not be possible: Cabot Creamery and Agri-Mark Milk Cooperative for their generous donation of yogurt and sour cream; Lisa Hagemen of the Community Kitchen of Torrington, Inc., Kathy Minck of Food Rescue, and Berta Andrulis Mette of the Litchfield Community Center for helping connect with the local food pantries and assembling the list of the product orders; Superintendent Chris Leone and Litchfield High School for use of their loading dock and parking lot for distribution, and the Litchfield County UConn 4-H members, parents and volunteers who continually rise to the challenge of community service and helping others in need.

“I am excited to be able to help get some of the surplus dairy products that were packaged for sale to the schools and restaurants that are no longer open out of storage and into the hands of families who are food insecure,” says Bill Davenport. “It makes no sense that farmers are dumping milk while there are people who desperately need food. If we can help move some dairy products out of the surplus storage, the dairy plants can then have more room to accept more milk from the farmers so that we can slow down the wasteful dumping of milk at the farms, while helping to keep the dairy farmers in business. And, as always, I am grateful that our amazing 4-H youth and parents are thrilled to help connect the dots and support the distribution of displaced dairy products. I hope that our actions will increase awareness of the issue and encourage others to help do the same across Connecticut and the region so that we can help move more milk and dairy products out of the surplus and into the refrigerators of people who desperately need it.”

“Farmers work each and every day to provide, nurture and embrace the production of healthy food while taking care of our employees, communities, animals, and our environment,” says Cricket Jacquier of Laurelbrook Farm, LLC and Chairman of the Agri-Mark Cooperative. “Our farmers who own Cabot Creamery, a Certified B Corp, are proud to help provide nutritious dairy products to those in need and it is just another example of our deep commitment to our communities.”

About Cabot Creamery and Agri-Mark Cooperative

Cabot Creamery Co-operative has been in continuous operation in Vermont since 1919, and makes a full line of cheeses, Greek yogurt, sour cream, cottage cheese and butter. Widely known as makers of “The World’s Best Cheddar,” Cabot is owned by the 800 dairy farm families of Agri-Mark, the Northeast’s premier dairy cooperative, with farms located throughout New England and upstate New York. For more information, visit: http://www.cabotcheese.coop

Cabot Creamery Co-operative is the world’s first cheese maker and dairy cooperative to achieve B Corporation Certification

About UConn 4-H

4-H is a national program with six million youth participating in various project areas who learn life skills, supervised by over 500,000 volunteer leaders. Litchfield County has 26 active 4-H clubs with over 400 active members in those clubs. Project areas include but are not limited to beef cattle, canine, crafts, dairy cattle, dairy goats, equine, community nutrition, food safety, food preparation skills, horticulture, mechanics, oxen, poultry, robotics, sewing, sheep, small animals, STEM, and swine.

The 4-H program is organized into four program areas including Agriculture, Civic Engagement, Healthy Living and STEM. These themes all overlap throughout the 4-H experience, with emphasis placed on creating well-rounded individuals. 4-H is the youth development program offered through the UConn Extension system. The purpose of UConn as Connecticut’s land grant university is to provide the citizens of Connecticut with educational opportunities through teaching, research and extension programming. For more information about 4-H and how to join, please contact Bill Davenport, Litchfield County Extension 4-H Educator, at william.davenport@uconn.edu or at 860-626-6854.