Endangered Crops of Vermont
February 24 | 3:30 pm - 4:45 pm EST
DESCRIPTION: Crop diversity is a key component of our food security. Different crops not only provide us with the range of nutrients we need for healthy diets, but they also vary in their tolerance to diseases, insect herbivores, drought, extreme heat, and cold. In a challenging environment like the one we have in Vermont, this diversity is critical for feeding us. An important aspect of crop diversity is genetic diversity within a crop, which we call crop varieties, such as Macintosh and Gala apples. Unfortunately many crop varieties have declined in the recent past, which poses threats to our gardens, farms, and the diversity of our diets. In this session participants will hear from Dr. Eric von Wettberg at UVM to: 1. explore crop varieties you may have in your kitchen; 2. discuss the ways in which some local crop varieties have become endangered due to shifting food preferences; 3. examine ways in which gardeners, farmers, and scientists protect crop varieties; and 4. contribute to a new database at UVM to assess threats to our traditional crop varieties here in Vermont. Crop varieties are best protected by many gardeners, farmers, and seed savers, and you will come away with the knowledge to help with this effort.
ABOUT OUR SPEAKER
Professor Eric von Wettberg, from UVM’s department of Plant and Soil Science and the Gund Institute for the Environment, teaches courses on preserving crop genetic diversity and plant science. His research aims to preserve crop varieties, with international genebanks and local seed saving groups as partners. Other work in his group aims to understand how plants can contribute to sequestration of carbon in soils, as a means of addressing climate change. He has recently worked in India, Ethiopia, Malawi, Russia, Taiwan, China, and Turkey. His favorite crops are chickpeas, lentils, peas, and beans. .
What is a Virtual Teen Science Café? It is a free, fun way for teens to explore science, engineering and technology with local scientists, engineers and technology experts. Teens will “meet a scientist”, learn about their work, and be able to participate in informal discussions.