Yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle ran an obituary on Ed Weber, which included quotes from family, colleagues and growers. Weber, the UC Cooperative Extension county director and viticulture farm advisor in Napa County, died Dec. 31 while riding his bike.
Here are some of the comments:
"He was not only the lead guy in providing vineyard and viticulture advice, but also had oversight of the Master Gardeners program and 4-H activities in the county. Ed was a quiet, solid, good-natured deliverer of knowledge and competence, and he did it in a way that never ruffled anyone's feathers. He was always perceived as being helpful and thoughtful and never critical." - Ted Hall, who owns the Long Meadow Ranch vineyard near Rutherford
"He was a really enthusiastic athlete and outdoors person. ... He loved biking. He loved hiking. If there was a lake, he'd jump into it. He was real involved in the boys' sports teams. That was all pleasurable to him; it wasn't dutiful. I think he had a great boyhood. I do not think that man had an enemy." - Ed Weber's sister Susan Weber
"He was a consummate professional. He was well respected and admired by everyone in the industry. As the county adviser on viticulture, he was the go-to man for your problems and concerns. He always responded with caring concern and a knowledge base that was astonishing." - Sandy Elles, executive director of the Napa County Farm Bureau
The Napa Valley Register last Friday included an obituary on Weber from his family. Also last Friday, Wines & Vines chronicled the loss of a wine production champion, with contributions from the wine industry, farmers and colleagues.
"He was an incredible resource for not only Napa Valley but the whole North Coast grape community." - Andy Walker of UC Davis
"He wasn't high profile like some people here in the valley, but he was part of the fabric of the community and the soul of the valley. He was knowledgeable and steady, providing good advice when we needed it." - Andy Beckstoffer, a former president of Napa Valley Grapegrowers
"Ed always had a smile, and he was always ready to help, whether it was a 'dumb' question or a complex problem. He was also willing to pitch in and really help, not just talk. His death was a tremendous loss to the Napa grower community." - David Freed of UCC Group
"Ed took his job seriously, but he never lost sight of what was most important, his family." - David Whitmer, Napa County Agricultural
The Wine Spectator said, "Weber was highly respected among wine writers and grape growers alike, who relied upon him to translate into plain English the latest information on anything related to growing grapes."
The Napa Valley Register also reported on Weber's ability to clearly convey information: "Colleagues said he could take the most complicated data and convey its importance to the general public in a concise, clear way."
In the words of the ANR associate vice president Rick Standiford, "(Weber's) loss will be deeply felt by the entire ANR Community."
UC Cooperative Extension made a number of appearances in the media as last year came to a close . . .
The Hanford Sentinel ran a feature story on Kings County UC Cooperative Extension nutrition education program manager Shonnon Gutierrez. "What we do is provide nutrition education curriculum for teachers in Kings County schools that qualify with 50 to 100 percent in the free or reduced lunch program," she said. In the story, Gutierrez conveyed her enthusiasm for her work: "It's a great job and everyone in the office is amazing," she said. "It's such a great place to work and Peggy Gregory is a wealth of information. It's a very supportive environment."
The Los Angeles Times reported on the spread of quagga mussels, which made their first appearance in the west about a year ago. The quagga doesn't make water unsafe to drink, but clogs up water delivery systems. Edwin D. Grosholz, an expert on invasive mussels and Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Davis, said, "There's nothing at all to limit their spread north to Northern California."
The Visalia Times-Delta ran a column by freelance writer Don Curlee about UC Small Farm Program director Shermain Hardesty's 12-year study on agricultural cooperatives. The 41 co-ops the researchers examined are doing quite well, the story said.
Capitol Press reported on the specialty crops seminar that took place in Davis in early December. UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Richard Molinar gave a presentation on unusual crops. "These vegetables are actually better than many of the vegetables we learned about and are accustomed to our mainstream stores. Sinqua is just like squash, except in my opinion it is much, much better and has more flavor than regular squash like zucchinis," he is quoted in the story. "The Chinese eggplant is really, really good, much better than the American globe eggplant, which has a flavor kind of like paper."
A news release by Marketwire included a quote from UC Cooperative Extension nutrition, family and consumer sciences advisor Connie Schneider. The story focuses on slimming down with milk. "One easy way to improve nutrition is to substitute low-fat or skim milk instead of high-calorie sugary or alcoholic drinks at meals," Schneider is quoted. "This easy step can help cut calories, boost nutrition and shed pounds."
Happy New Year! One of my favorite media phenomena opened 2008 - stories with long legs. In the middle of last summer, the press widely covered UC Davis assistant professor Alyson Mitchell's research comparing organic with conventional tomatoes, as was reported in this blog on July 9. The San Francisco Chronicle tackled the topic on November 28, and their article was picked up today in the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch.
The Chron story said hardly a week goes by without a headline about research that shows organic tomatoes, corn or other fruits and vegetables contain more nutrients, especially vitamin C and other antioxidants. Mitchell's research comparing organic and conventional tomatoes showed the organic fruit contained 79 percent more of one antioxidant, and 97 percent more of another. Nevertheless, Mitchell cautioned that "organic" doesn't always mean "more nutritious."
"Where the tomatoes were grown, what kind of tomatoes they are, how ripe they were when they were picked, if they were kept cool or not, and how long they've been in the store all affect nutrient levels," the article says.
My prediction for the New Year . . . the media will continue to cover organic agriculture, even though the term appeared on a list of words that have been "banished," according to Lake Superior State University. Based on the comments on the page, the term may not be overused as much as under-understood.
Wire services make it interesting to see where UC Cooperative Extension experts might end up. This one's a little mysterious. If anyone can shed some light, please post a comment.
The Columbia Tribune in Missouri ran a McClatchy story yesterday that quoted UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor Glenn Nader. (McClatchy owns the Sacramento Bee, the Fresno Bee and other papers, but I couldn't find this story on any other Web site.)
The article is about efforts to get cattle to put on pounds while eating less. My first thought was the same as the article's writer, who said the premise "sounds like something out of a dieter’s nightmare." Anyhow, looking to spend less on cattle feed, producers are seeking animals with proven "feed efficiency."
The story said that researchers at UC Davis have found that some steers beat average feed efficiency by nearly 30 percent, though others have found improvements closer to 10 percent. Breeding bulls are now being marketed for their efficiency, not just their size and pedigree.
"We started realizing that there’s also the issue of how much feed does it take to get all those pounds, and maybe big isn’t better," Nader is quoted in the article.
Major cattle-feeding operations are installing electronic systems to monitor how much each animal eats and how much weight it gains, the story says. That information feeds into breeding programs aimed at producing more efficient cattle in subsequent generations.
During this joyous season, I would like to personally wish all my loyal blog readers poor "feed efficiency" as you celebrate the upcoming holidays and enter the New Year.
Next week, UC ANR will be closed. I will be back with more updates on the past, present and future of UC ANR news on Jan. 2.