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Kathy Stephenson
Kathy Stephenson has been the food writer at The Tribune since 2000. A Utah native, Stephenson's first job was picking zucchini on her grandparent's Kaysville farm. Every Christmas, Stephenson's neighbors and colleagues look forward to getting a plate of her baklava. Last year, she gave away nearly 300 pieces.

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Researchers to study new specialty crops in Utah

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Some exciting food and agriculture projects will soon get underway in Utah thanks to a new round of "specialty crop" grants that were awarded today by the Utah Department of Agriculture.

The 16 grants, which total more than $260,000, fund a variety of projects such as developing a commercial asparagus plot in Emery County; determining if the Jujube fruit could be produced in Utah's low water landscapes; developing a "Farm-chef-fork" program to encourage restaurants to use locally-produced ingredients; and improving the health benefits of raspberry jam.

The money came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Specialty Crop Block Grant program. In all 27 applications were submitted. Here are the 16 selected for funds.

1. RoseRed Wildflowers, LLC – Pamela Cantrell, Ph.D – Mitigating the Effects of Africanized Honeybees (AHB) in Southern Utah.

2. Brigham Young University, Tory Parker – Utah red raspberry jam specialty market: Utilizing the waste stream to improve the nutritional properties of local jam.

3. Utah State University, Brent Black – Adapting high density orchard management strategies to Utah’s fruit industry.

4. South Salt Lake City, Glenn Smith – South Salt Lake Community Connection to Agriculture Project is designed to increase child and adult nutrition knowledge and consumption of fruits and vegetables, and to assist residents and local producers in improving efficiency of the distribution chain.

5. Utah State University, Dr. Bruce Bugbee – Precision irrigation management in Utah tart cherry and apple orchards using continuous recording infrared temperature sensors.

6. Utah State University, Jennifer Reeve – Developing reduced input conventional orchard floor management options for improved tree nutrition, pests and efficient water use.

7. Castleland RC&D Council, Melissa Swasey – Develop a test plot for commercial asparagus operation in Emery County and to determine feasibility of further expansion of this crop in the region.

8. Utah State University, Roger Kjelgren – Jujube: a new fruit crop for Utah production and low water landscapes.

9. Utah State University, Daniel Drost – Optimal production approaches for bell peppers: Early season survival, nitrogen needs and high tunnels.

10. Utah State University, Diane Alston – Implementation of cherry fruit fly killing stations to reduce the use of hazardous insecticides in commercial and home orchards.

11. Utah State University, Marion Murray – Using mobile devices to enhance fruit pest information delivery.

12. Utah State University, Marion Murray – Workshop to educate fruit growers on two invasives: Spotted wing drosophila and brown marmorated stink bug.

13. Wasatch Community Gardens, Lindsay Oswald Smith – Young gardening program: City roots classes and growing greens field trips.

14. Great Salt Lake RC&D, Therese Meyer – Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Utah promotion program support.

15. Utah State University, Dr. Roslynn Brain – Farm-Chef-Fork: Establishing enhanced farm to restaurant communication and sourcing across Utah.

16. Cornaby’s Farm, David Cornaby – Sunscald reduction in primocane raspberries.



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