COVID-19 Response: One Person Plants Food Gardens; Floridians Get Useful data From UF/IFAS, FAMU Extension

Clint Thompson Florida, Top Posts

University of Florida’s Ed Jennings talks with homeowners.

By: Brad Buck, 813-757-2224 (office); 352-875-2641 (cell); bradbuck@ufl.edu

COVID-19 may take jobs away from people, but it can’t take away Tanya Murillo’s resilient spirit and her desire to grow vegetables in her yard.

Murillo’s employer closed March 13 because of the coronavirus. She went home where eight people live. No self-pity for Murillo. Everyone in her household needed something to fill vacant time.

“I’m going to do something positive and productive,” said Murillo. “My husband is really good at planting. I don’t know much about growing. So, I was trying to get some ideas on how to grow some food.”

The week after she lost her job, Murillo called University of Florida/IFAS Extension Levy County and talked to program assistant Barbara Edmonds about what to try to grow in sandy soils. Murillo wants to start planting vegetables at her home in Bronson. She’s got multiple allergies and can’t tolerate gluten, so fresh food is the order of the day.

Her project stems partly from trying to find activities to get her through the days, from needing to grow fresh food and to keep the four children in her home busy.

“This is a challenging point in my life,” Murillo said. “I figure it’s better to get my children involved.”

Edmonds, the UF/IFAS Extension Levy County horticulture program assistant, said she’s seen an increase in gardening and landscape calls since the coronavirus started.

“She (Murillo) has time to grow plants now,” Edmonds said.

Edmonds sent Murillo the UF/IFAS vegetable gardening guide, which provides an overview of site selection, preparing the soil, growing season, plant spacing, row spacing and much more.

UF/IFAS Extension works with its statewide partner, Florida A&M University, to deliver science-based information to residents and businesses across Florida.

“As we get used to our ‘new normal’ with the coronavirus and its ramifications, UF/IFAS Extension faculty and staff work tirelessly to continue providing the best science-based information and other services to the people of Florida,” said Nick Place, dean of UF/IFAS Extension and director of the Florida Cooperative Extension Service. “Whether we get questions about gardening, farming, nutrition, natural resources, family or consumer issues, UF/IFAS Extension will continue to collaborate with FAMU Cooperative Extension to answer questions and educate Floridians, using all means available.”

FAMU Cooperative Extension is maintaining connections with Florida residents, utilizing non-face-to-face venues, said Vonda Richardson, director of Extension programs at FAMU. Agents and educators are connecting via email, phone and social media. Educational programming will be delivered via Zoom and Facebook Live.

“We are encouraging the public to connect to us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @FAMUEXT for information and resources,” Richardson said.