Five tips for enjoying Wyoming’s farmers markets

Vendors, customers and sightseers mingle at the Laramie Farmers Market Friday. There are 53 farmers markets across Wyoming, according to the Wyoming Business Council.
Vendors, customers and sightseers mingle at the Laramie Farmers Market Friday. There are 53 farmers markets across Wyoming, according to the Wyoming Business Council.

Farmers market season is in full swing now with 53 markets across the state, according to the Wyoming Business Council.

Markets are a good source of local and regional produce, meat and value-added foods, as well as crafts and informational booths, said University of Wyoming Extension educator Cole Ehmke. He noted farmers markets are community events, where locals and visitors can enjoy summer days while supporting the local economy and eating well.

A list of farmers markets, hours and days of operation is available on the Wyoming Farmers Marketing Association website (www.wyomingfarmersmarkets.org) under Wyoming Farmers Market.

Ehmke, extension ag entrepreneurship specialist, offers these five tips to help get the most from a market.

1.      Bring your own bags. Most vendors provide a bag (even if it is not new), but bringing bags or a basket can reduce waste at the market and in one’s home. Consider using a cooler to help keep fresh items crisp.

2.      Buy what’s in season. Some people may be surprised to learn fresh apples aren’t available in July, nor fresh cherries in October. Neither may be available from local producers in any quantity at Wyoming markets, given the short growing season. Markets are a good way to learn about what can be grown in the area, so talk with farmers about where and how they grow their produce (especially about organic practices if that is important to you). Noting how product availability changes across the season is a good way to teach children about respecting the seasons as well as managing your own expectations, said Ehmke. Plus, the highest nutritional value in vegetables is from those items that are freshest (preferably picked that day). Continue reading Five tips for enjoying Wyoming’s farmers markets

Precautions same whether Zika virus in Brazil or West Nile in Wyoming

UW Extension entomologist Scott Schell helps students identify aquatic insects at a Snowy Range lake during a science camp last school year.
UW Extension entomologist Scott Schell helps students identify aquatic insects at a Snowy Range lake during a science camp last school year.

That whine you may hear when out and about this summer in Wyoming isn’t a dinner bell for mosquitos – it’s more like Muzac in a fertility clinic while the females look for a blood meal to produce eggs.

And in areas where viruses like West Nile (WNV) in Wyoming reside and Zika in Brazil and in other South American regions, more like infected syringes flying through the air.

But not all mosquitos are medically relevant – only specific species of mosquitos can carry and transmit specific diseases, said Scott Schell, University of Wyoming Extension entomologist.

Schell, a member of Wyoming Mosquito Management Association, and other scientists use the phrase vector competency to describe a mosquito species’ ability to:
* Take up a disease organism while sucking blood from a sick animal.
* Have the disease replicate in them.
* Eventually accumulate in the salivary secretions.
* Retransmit the disease to the next blood meal victim.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito in Brazil does that with the Zika virus, just as Culex tarsalis does in Wyoming with WNV, said Schell.

C. tarsalis feeds from dusk to dawn in Wyoming. A. aegypti, whose common name is yellow fever mosquito, is a daytime feeder that often follows people indoors.

“They often go for the lower legs, are small bodied with a “light touch” so most people don’t even know they are being bitten until they start to itch later,” Schell said.

Continue reading Precautions same whether Zika virus in Brazil or West Nile in Wyoming

Wyoming 4-H’ers target bee decline in plan formed in Washington, D.C.

Back, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, Rep. Cynthia Lummis, volunteer Mary Hamilton, Meghan Proctor, Molly Moyer, Zoie Dayton, Emma Balstad, Amber Jensen, 4-H educator Brenda McKinzie, Sen. Mike Enzi. Front, Milo Matteson, Taten Guakel, Andrew Hamilton, James Raube, Kaden Guakel, Nyckalas Harvey, Teage Dayton.
Back, from left, Sen. John Barrasso, Rep. Cynthia Lummis, volunteer Mary Hamilton, Meghan Proctor, Molly Moyer, Zoie Dayton, Emma Balstad, Amber Jensen, 4-H educator Brenda McKinzie, Sen. Mike Enzi. Front, Milo Matteson, Taten Guakel, Andrew Hamilton, James Raube, Kaden Guakel, Nyckalas Harvey, Teage Dayton.

Wyoming 4-H’ers during a trip to Washington, D.C., applied their heads, hands, hearts and health (4-H’er pledge to better the world) to solve declining bee numbers in their home state.

The group of 12 4-H’ers from five counties won $500 at the Citizenship Washington Focus (CWF) for a plan to create a beekeeping curriculum and offer $250 to a Wyoming 4-H’er whose bees produced the best honey. That 4-H’er could then use the money to expand her or his beehive.
Farm Credit provided the money.

The Wyoming group members were:
Big Horn County – Nyckalas Harvey
Niobrara County – Taten Gaukel, Kaden Gaukel, Amber Jensen, Meghan Proctor
Sweetwater County – Andrew Hamilton
Sheridan County – Emma Balstad
Teton County – Teage Dayton, Zoie Dayton, Milo Mattson, Molly Moyer, James Raube

Bee numbers in the U.S. have decreased more than 50 percent since the 1990s. From April 2015 to April 2016, beekeepers in America lost 44 percent of their honey bee colonies, according to the Bee Informed Partnership, whose members include the USDA and National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

The 4-H’ers want to help increase numbers in Wyoming by encouraging other 4-H’ers to become involved in beekeeping.

“We will use half of the $500 to help get the bee project started so 4-H’ers can have their own bee habitat and hives,” said Balstad, a member of the Tongue River Roundup 4-H Club.

Continue reading Wyoming 4-H’ers target bee decline in plan formed in Washington, D.C.

Wyoming Homemakers recognize Niobrara County extension educator’s service

Denise Smith
Denise Smith

Converting the county’s extension office into the command center during the 2015 floods, securing a grant to pay for a high tunnel to teach residents horticulture and leading the nutrition and food safety team has drawn special recognition for a Niobrara County University of Wyoming Extension educator.

The Wyoming Homemakers in June recognized 40-year educator Denise Smith for her educational and leadership roles in Niobrara County and across Wyoming.

Smith is a nutrition and food safety educator for Converse, Natrona and Niobrara counties and is a 4-H educator in Niobrara County. She has served as adviser to the homemaker’s association since 1979.

“There is no doubt Denise is a leader in the community and in UW Extension,” noted Arlene Rapp, former president of the Wyoming Homemakers for many years, who presented the honor.

Rapp said Smith’s focus is on nutrition and food safety but, “When a need arises, Denise readily accepts the challenge of either teaching classes or finding the perfect person to come in and assist the community and meeting its educational needs.”

Rapp noted Smith’s roles in:
* Securing a 1 percent capital facilities tax to expand the Niobrara County fairgrounds.

Continue reading Wyoming Homemakers recognize Niobrara County extension educator’s service

Horse power and tractor activities, research among Sheridan research center field day events

Johnson County extension educator Blaine Horn describes his cool-season grass trails at last year's field day.
Johnson County extension educator Blaine Horn describes his cool-season grass trials at last year’s field day.

Horse and tractor harrowing and an antique tractor show will blend with research projects and the 125-year history of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station during the Sheridan Research and Extension Center (ShREC) field day Wednesday, July 20.

This year’s field day is at the Wyarno station site at 663 Wyarno Rd. east of Sheridan, said Brian Mealor, ShREC director. Mealor and Frank Galey, dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming, will begin introductions at 3 p.m.

Research tours and information from 3:30-5 p.m. include historic versus contemporary wheat varieties, native and introduced grasses for forage and reclamation, cheatgrass management and restoration including cheatgrass-suppressive bacteria, biotechnology and modern horticulture and a 100-year review of weather information at the site by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. There are also researcher/student poster sessions.

RSVPs for the 5:30 p.m. buffet dinner are requested by July 15. Contact Rochelle Koltiska at 307-673-2856 or shrec@uwyo.edu.

During dinner, UW Extension horticulturist Karen Panter will present vegetable and ornamental plant seed-saving information, and David Kruger, agricultural liaison librarian with University of Wyoming Libraries, will give a 125-year history of AES and 101 years at the Wyarno site and how the two are an integral part of Sheridan County.

The horse and tractor harrowing and antique tractor show is 6:45- 8 p.m.

ShREC is one of four research and extension centers under the direction of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Wyoming. Others are at Laramie and near Lingle and Powell.