Mitcham honored as ASHS Outstanding International Horticulturist

Elizabeth Mitcham, UC Davis scientist, was honored by the American Society for Horticultural Science (ASHS) as its Outstanding International Horticulturist for 2015.

She accepted the award Aug. 4 at the ASHS annual conference in New Orleans. The award recognizes distinguished contributions to horticultural sciences for 10 years or more, with emphasis on international activities and impacts.

portrait: Elizabeth Mitcham
Beth Mitcham, director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab and Postharvest Technology Center at UC Davis (high-res)

At UC Davis, Mitcham is director of both the Horticulture Innovation Lab and Postharvest Technology Center programs. As director of the internationally recognized Postharvest Technology Center, she has helped train professionals from more than 40 countries in how best to care for fruits and vegetables after harvest, to reduce food waste and improve food quality. She has hosted numerous foreign scientists and students in her lab at the UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences, where her research focuses on the regulation of fruit ripening, understanding calcium deficiency disorders, and maintaining fruit quality after harvest.

Mitcham also leads the Horticulture Innovation Lab, which targets fruit and vegetable research in developing countries to reduce poverty and improve nutrition. Her leadership helps build international partnerships between scientists and develop technologies that meet the horticultural needs of smallholder farmers. The program is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative.

“I’ve really become passionate about what horticulture can bring to reducing poverty and improving lives,” she said. “Meeting people who are now able to send their children to school or buy books—those one-on-one interactions are what really stick with me. It is so rewarding to be able to work in this field.” Continue reading Mitcham honored as ASHS Outstanding International Horticulturist

Newsletter: Meeting wrap-up, gender tips, opportunities

Below is our email newsletter, with highlights from our recent blog posts and links to other news and opportunities. You can see our newsletters here, or subscribe to get your own copy next time.

Leaders from each of our projects gathered in Zambia last month for an annual meeting, joined by local partners, entrepreneurs, and others interested in horticulture for development. Highlights from this meeting are below, along with some additional program news and opportunities in the world.

WHAT WE LEARNED AT THE ANNUAL MEETING The first day of the three-day meeting was focused on learning about the program’s new portfolio of projects and finding possible synergies between them. Continue reading Newsletter: Meeting wrap-up, gender tips, opportunities

What we learned at the annual meeting

In June, representatives from each of the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s current projects gathered in Lusaka, Zambia, for the program’s annual meeting. The three-day meeting started with a workday, then grew into a local conference, and ended with a tour of local agriculture.

Workday for current partners

The first day of the three-day meeting was focused on learning about the program’s new portfolio of projects and finding possible synergies between them. Beth Mitcham, director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab, discussed the broad goals of the projects new phase, and John Bowman of USAID updated the group about changes at the Bureau of Food Security, including upcoming changes to scientific peer review policies and sub-award processes.

People talking and listening in front of a poster
Kate Scow of UC Davis discusses her new project in Uganda during the poster session, with Manny Reyes of NCA&T and Josette Lewis of UC Davis.

Principal investigators from each of the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s six current projects and two Regional Centers shared posters and discussion with rotating small groups. Later, the teams networked to discuss ways they could work together and exchange expertise.

Janelle Larson, Leif Jensen and Arie Sanders of Penn State and Zamorano universities walked the group through a workshop about designing gender-sensitive agricultural research (see 9 tips for incorporating gender into a research project for highlights). Rangaswamy Muniappan, director of the Continue reading What we learned at the annual meeting

Our newest center, here at UC Davis

In a corner of the UC Davis campus, there is a new garden plot with fresh mulch, thriving vegetable plants, young seedlings, and a small shed.

Until this week, there were no signs on this mysterious plot. If you’re at UC Davis, you may have walked by and wondered, “What’s growing on over there?”

This is the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s new center at UC Davis, a work in progress.

Campus map shows new garden plot between Environmental Horticulture buildings and Nelson Hall for the Horticulture Innovation Lab's new Center at UC Davis, in progress.
Wondered what is growing in this corner of campus? This map shows the location of the Horticulture Innovation Lab’s Center, demonstrating vegetables and tools from the program’s work in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Though our program is headquartered here in California, the Horticulture Innovation Lab has two Regional Centers at universities in Honduras and in Thailand. These centers demonstrate agricultural technologies that can help smallholder farmers Continue reading Our newest center, here at UC Davis

9 tips for incorporating gender into a research project

From the leaders of our new gender-focused project, of Penn State and Zamorano universities, here are some tips to get you thinking about gender-responsive projects:

group photo: Arie, Janelle and Leif
From left, Arie Sanders of Zamorano, Janelle Larson and Leif Jensen (both of Penn State) kicked off a Horticulture Innovation Lab project focused on gender equity and the horticultural value chain in Honduras.
  1. Incorporate and mainstream gender considerations from the inception of the project. Avoid “add and stir” approaches to gender, that is, simply adding gender as a factor without thinking through the range of ways it might infuse your work. A full incorporation might have impacts on decisions about staffing, scheduling time “in the field,” timing of outreach efforts, connecting with “gatekeepers,” and designing gender-specific activities.
  2. Be aware of the cultural context. Constraints that women (and others) face vary between and within societies, regions, localities and households.
  3. Be attentive to interactions between gender and other categories such as race and ethnicity, social class, and life-stage.
  4. When evaluating a specific intervention or issue, give careful thought to sampling design to ensure meaningful participation of women. Continue reading 9 tips for incorporating gender into a research project