Editor’s note: Nick Reitz is a doctoral student in the UC Davis Department of Food Science and Technology, who participated in a Trellis Fund project led by the Methodist University College Ghana. Here Nick shares some details about his trip to Ghana for this project, which focused on food processing for mango farmers. Though Nick did not have previous experience with mangoes, he had a lot of knowledge to share about postharvest practices. Updated Nov. 6: The Horticulture Innovation Lab has extended the deadline for graduate students to apply for 5 new Trellis Fund projects focused on postharvest handling, small-scale processing and food preservation in Africa.
Question: How does your work on this Trellis Fund project fit into your studies and career, as a Food Science grad student?
Nick Reitz: Prior to this project, I knew almost nothing about mangos. However, my background knowledge of postharvest biology and food processing technology mixed with a fair amount of research helped overcome this lack of knowledge. The basic science behind food preservation is the same regardless of what technology is available. If you know the basics, you can find a method and predict what will happen. Adapting my knowledge to the conditions and resources available in Ghana has been one of the most interesting parts of this project so far.
Editor’s note: Tiare Silvasy is a master’s student in Tropical Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa who participated in a Trellis Fund project led by the Center for Agricultural Research and Development (CARD-Nepal). She recently returned from a trip to Nepal to work on this project, which focused on soil testing and nutrient management for smallholder farmers — many of whom had never had a soil test before. Here’s a Q&A with highlights from her trip.
Question: How does your work on this Trellis Fund project fit into your studies and career?
Tiare Silvasy: In Hawaii, my thesis is on nutrient management and I’m looking at local organic fertilizers, specifically at meat and bone meal, produced locally here from the islands’ fish and meat wastes. We’re looking at using those local materials on our farmer’s fields, instead of importing fertilizer products. Meat and bone meal contain a relatively high amount of nitrogen for an organic fertilizer.
Tell us about the main work you did on this Trellis Fund project during this trip.
Editor’s note: Archie Jarman joined the Horticulture Innovation Lab team as its new program officer, just in time to participate in the program’s annual meeting in March. He brings a wealth of international experience to this position, which includes coordinating the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s Regional Centers around the globe. Here is a brief interview to introduce you to Archie and his background. We hope you have a chance to meet him soon!
Question: Tell us about your background. How did you come to work for the Horticulture Innovation Lab?
Archie Jarman: By winding road. I worked for the fire service, which is a great career, and made some lifelong friends, but I had the international travel itch. So I studied International Social Welfare at Columbia University and also interned at the Millennium Villages Project with a focus on whether safety net programs improve childhood nutrition domestically and abroad. After graduating, I then worked at Arcadia Biosciences, Inc., as coordinator and then as project manager with excellent teams for their USAID-funded projects. The projects are aimed at improving the abiotic stress tolerance of rice and wheat in Africa and Southeast Asia and incorporated capacity building. The position at the Horticulture Innovation Lab seemed ideal in that I have strengths that could be beneficial for the program, but it also provided a lot of challenges for me to improve my weaknesses and learn. I am thankful it worked out! Very happy to join the team.
Can you tell us more about the projects and crops you were working with at Arcadia Biosciences?
Editor’s note: In 2015, Angelos Deltsidis joined the Horticulture Innovation Lab team at UC Davis as our new international postharvest specialist. Now that he has had six months to begin working on projects, we thought it might be nice to officially introduce him to you and give you an idea of what his role will be at the Horticulture Innovation Lab.
Question: Tell us about your background and how you ended up at the Horticulture Innovation Lab.
Angelos Deltsidis: I studied horticulture in Greece at the University of Thessaly as an undergraduate. I’m from an agricultural region in northeastern Greece called Thrace, but my family is not directly related to farming per se. My grandparents had a family farm, but we would just visit for fun and grow some potatoes or tomatoes for us to eat.
In my second year of undergraduate studies, I was an exchange student at the University of Florida and worked with Dr. Jeff Brecht.
Fun fact: Dr. Brecht and my advisor at Thessaly, George Nanos, were both students of Adel Kader at UC Davis. They weren’t here at the same time as each other, but they kind of knew each other just because they were both students of Kader.