Food safety certification course offered to potential on-farm food entrepreneurs

DOVER – Agricultural entrepreneurs who want to produce certain foods in their on-farm kitchens can receive food safety training and become certified under Delaware law at an upcoming workshop jointly sponsored by the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension and the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

The eight-hour Food Safety for Entrepreneurs program presented by Dr. Sue Snider of the University of Delaware will take place Saturday, Feb. 28, at the Department of Agriculture offices near Camden, 2320 South DuPont Highway. The class will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Participants should arrive by 7:45 a.m. for registration and bring a bagged lunch.

Register by Feb. 20 by contacting Debra Whitmore at or 302-698-4540.

Participants will learn how to identify potentially hazardous and non-potentially hazardous foods; understand foodborne pathogens and ways to control them; reduce the risk of foodborne illness; evaluate their plan for controlling potential microbial problems; and understand state regulations on farm-produced, non-potentially hazardous food items.

Those items include such things as baked breads, cakes, muffins, cookies, non-chocolate candy, jellies, jams, preserves, marmalades, fruit butters, fruit pies, herbs in vinegar, honey and herb mixtures, dried fruit and vegetables, spices or herbs, maple syrup, sorghum, popcorn, caramel corn, peanut brittle and roasted nuts.

The training, certification and inspections of farm kitchens are required under Delaware regulations adopted in 2006, and apply to farmers who wish to process non-potentially hazardous foods in their on-farm home kitchens for sale to the public at DDA-listed farmers’ markets, on their farm or at a roadside stand on or near their farm. On-farm kitchens will be inspected by appointment after participants complete the training and pass a written test.

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Nancy Gainer, University of Delaware, 302-831-2501 (office),
Dan Shortridge, Delaware Department of Agriculture, 302-698-4520 (office),

Delaware Forest Service’s 2015 Arbor Day School Poster Contest


Delaware Forest Service’s 2015 Arbor Day Poster Contest and Free Seedling Program The Delaware Forest Service is holding its annual Arbor Day School Poster Contest, open to all Delaware students in grades K to 5. Public, private and home schools are encouraged to participate and posters are welcome from after-school groups and youth organizations. This year’s contest theme is “Trees are Terrific… Inside and Out.” To participate, teachers must register their classes by March 13 and submit posters by the deadline of March 27. As in previous years, classes that participate can also request free pine seedlings on a first-come, first-served basis.

This year’s theme is designed to teach students about the structural components of trees and how these components help a tree function. This lesson can be adapted for grades K to 5 and makes an excellent addition to the K-5 science curriculum. The poster contest is also an important way for students to learn more about the role trees play in community health and well-being and can help students foster an appreciation for the natural world around them. As always, the Delaware Forest Service will provide all participating classes with free loblolly pine seedlings. The web link for contest registration is at Teachers can use the site to:

  1. Register for participation in the 2015 contest
  2. Reserve pine seedlings for students
  3. Access the poster guidelines and rules

Important dates:

  1. Deadline to register and reserve free seedlings: March 13, 2015
  2. Deadline to submit posters for state contest: March 27, 2015
  3. State Award Ceremony: Week of May 6, 2015 (tentative based on Governor Markell’s schedule)
  4. Last year’s winning posters:
  5. Seedling delivery: Week of April 20, 2015
  6. 2015 Arbor Day in Delaware: Friday, April 24

State Judging Criteria On a scale of 1-5, the following criteria are used to judge posters on the county and state level. These should be kept in mind when submitting posters:

  1. Use of Theme
  2. Originality
  3. Neatness
  4. Artistic Expression

Prizes Awarded to Winners A winner for each county (New Castle, Kent, and Sussex) will be selected for each entry category (Grades K, 1-2, 3-4, and 5). From these 12 winners, an overall state winner will be selected to represent Delaware as we celebrate Arbor Day 2015. Please note: the National Arbor Day Foundation is no longer hosting a National Poster Contest for fifth grade winners. The Delaware Forest Service is committed to continuing the Arbor Day Poster Contest at the state level. County winners receive:

  1. $25 gift card
  2. ceremonial tree planting held at their school
  3. invitation to the State Arbor Day Ceremony (attended by the Governor)
  4. “Tree inspired” children’s book
  5. winning posters will be reprinted on canvas, framed for display, and given to winner as a keepsake
  6. winning posters will be displayed online. Please visit to see the 2014 Arbor Day winners.
  7. In addition to the previous prizes, the State Winner also receives an additional $25 gift card.

Judges will be selected by the Contest Coordinator and judging will take place at the Delaware Department of Agriculture in Dover. Winners will be announced in April and honored at the 2015 State Arbor Day Ceremony with Governor Jack A. Markell.

Posters must be received by March 27, 2015.

Entries should be mailed or delivered to:

Ashley Peebles, Contest Coordinator – Delaware Forest Service
2320 S. DuPont Highway Dover, DE 19901
Phone: (302) 698-4551

Poster guidelines and rules can be found HERE.
Lesson plan and activity guide can be found HERE.

For those interested in programs designed to increase TEACHER knowledge in trees and roles of community trees and for grant opportunities to make your school more “green,” visit In 2014, more than 105 classes from 41 private, public, and home schools, and youth groups participated in the annual contest, and winners were honored at the state’s Arbor Day Ceremony at McIlvaine Early Childhood Center in Magnolia.

Last year, over 3,500 seedlings were distributed to students through the annual Free Seedling Program. As they have for many years, senior volunteers from the Modern Maturity Center’s RSVP Program in Dover wrapped tree seedlings for distribution to Delaware schoolchildren. Classrooms must participate in the Arbor Day Poster Contest to be eligible for free seedlings and tree programs. Delaware Forest Service staff delivered the seedlings to public and private schools statewide.

Delaware Forest Service’s 5th Annual Arborist Seminar at Hagley on March 3 and 4


The Fifth Annual Delaware Arborist and Tree Care Seminar will be held on March 3 and 4 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at Hagley Museum & Soda House, 298 Buck Road, Wilmington, DE 19807. Sponsored by the Delaware Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, the annual gathering offers classroom lectures, hands-on training, and on-site exhibits offering the latest knowledge and techniques for those interested in proper tree care and safety. This year’s topics will include: crane safety for tree care workers, pesticide application, mature tree care and hazard risk assessment, new tree and shrub introductions, how to use i-Tree to assess and manage urban forests, as well as optional CPR and first aid training. Continuing education credits for International Society of Arboriculture certification and Delaware pesticide credits will be offered.

Cost is $90 with lunch included both days. (There is no single-day registration option). All major credit cards (Mastercard, VISA, American Express, and Discover) are accepted. Attendees can register and pay online online at EventBrite. Those who wish to pay by check or money order are asked to complete the online form to complete and confirm their registration (instructions on where to mail payment are provided). Last year’s event in Sussex County drew 140 tree care professionals.

Contact: Kesha Braunskill, Delaware Forest Service, (302) 659-6704,


Winter storm precautions urged for livestock, poultry owners

DOVER — The Delaware Department of Agriculture reminds poultry and livestock growers to take proper precautions to shelter and protect their animals as winter storm season is upon us.

“Preparedness is the key to keeping animals safe,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Heather Hirst, who heads the Department’s Poultry and Animal Health Section. “Winter storm situations can be deadly to livestock and poultry, but taking the right steps can keep them healthy.”

In preparation for heavy snow and possible power outages, owners should inspect poultry houses and other structures; keep back-up generators, fuel, and filters on  hand; check feed inventories; have a back-up communications plan; and mark driveways and roads with tall poles or stakes. Roofs should be cleared of snow as soon as possible, while taking proper steps for worker safety.

Other precautions recommended by the Department of Agriculture include:

>> Check and secure all buildings and enclosures. Repair or secure loose boards, doors, window covers, metal sheeting, wire and equipment that could blow around in high winds.

>> Provide water and food. Make sure your animals have alternate water sources in case power is lost and pumps and automatic waterers are not working. Have enough food and water on hand for seven days. Move feed to higher ground to prevent mold contamination from flooding.

>> Mark animals. Identifiers for returning lost animals could include ear tags with farm name and phone numbers, brands, paint markings on hooves or coats, or clipped initials in hair coats. Leg bands can be used for back yard poultry.

>> Stock up on supplies. Make sure you have basic veterinary supplies on hand and that your livestock are current on vaccinations.

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Media contact:

Dan Shortridge
Director of Communications and Marketing
Delaware Department of Agriculture


Forest Service offering tree planting grants for Chesapeake Bay

DOVER  —  The Delaware Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry (U&CF) Program is offering a new “Partnership Tree Planting Grant” to nonprofit groups who own property within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The U&CF Program will award eight (8) $1000 matching grants on a first-come, first-served basis to qualifying nonprofit groups who apply by February 27, 2015. While the program’s main objective is to improve water quality in the regional Bay watershed, trees can offer grant recipients many other natural benefits such as cleaner air, reduced erosion, and aesthetics. Reports also indicate that trees can improve property and resale values and enhance community well-being.

Requirements for a Nonprofit Group to Apply for the Tree Planting Grants

  • Must be a certified 501(c)(3) organization based in the State of Delaware. Common types include nonprofit religious, educational, charitable, scientific, or literary organizations
  • Must own land located in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed with a parcel registered in the organization’s name that appears on the county’s tax parcel list (must provide parcel number)
  • Must provide a 50-50 cost-share match in either cash or in-kind services. Sufficient volunteer hours for planning, organizing, and carrying out the project can meet this requirement without a need for cash

Benefits of Tree Planting Grants

  • Grants can be a no-cost* way to beautify and enhance an organization’s campus and grounds
  • Tree plantings can bring an organization’s membership together on a project to benefit the environment
  • Organizations may only need to match about 47 hours of volunteer time to fulfill requirements for a $1000 grant

Technical Assistance For Grant Projects

Delaware Forest Service staff will offer assistance at every stage of the tree planting project:

  • Meet with organizations to discuss their project
  • Identify a suitable site for the tree planting
  • Select the best species for the particular location
  • Help to calculate the volunteer hours and services for grant match so the project can take place at no cost
  • Schedule a planting day in the spring of 2015
  • Purchase and deliver the trees to the actual site
  • Oversee the planting and recommend steps for follow-up care of the new trees

Grant Application Deadline: Feb. 27, 2015

How to Apply

  • Nonprofit organizations that might benefit from the Partnership Tree Planting Grant and can meet the 50-50 cost match requirement (can be met by volunteer hours at no cost to the group) are invited to apply by contacting Kesha Braunskill, Delaware Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program, by telephone – (302) 659-6704  or email –
  • Delaware Urban and Community Forestry website at