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Healthy Eating From Head To Toe – Live Well Alabama

For kids, getting the right nutrients is important for healthy growth. Helping your child eat a variety of foods from all food groups is the best way to make sure your child gets all the nutrients needed for growth and development. Here are a just few examples of foods that are packed with nutrients to help kids grow healthy and strong.

Foods for Growth and Development

Brain: salmon, leafy greens, beans and nuts.

Eyes: carrots, spinach, cantaloupe and sweet potatoes

Hair: milk, yogurt, cheese, eggs, lean meat, poultry, beans and grains

Teeth: milk, yogurt, cheese, nuts, broccoli and spinach

Heart: banana, avocado, spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, whole-grain bread and rice, salmon, milk and yogurt

Digestive System: corn, carrots, apples, plain popcorn, nuts and yogurt

Skin: oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, kiwi,  grapefruit, sweet potato, nuts, beans and water

Muscles: lean meat, poultry, nuts, beans, potatoes, bananas, salmon, milk, cheese, yogurt and eggs

Bones: milk, cheese, yogurt, broccoli, spinach and nuts

infographic for healthy eating



























For more research-based nutrition and physical activity education articles, visit our site at livewellalabama.com.

Source: Healthy Eating From Head To Toe – Live Well Alabama

How to Make Your Lawn the Envy of the Neighborhood – Extension Daily

Auburn, Alabama – With temperatures continuing to rise and summer only a few weeks away, people are beginning to break out the work gloves to start the process of lawn management.

As nice as it is to have a lawn with beautiful green grass, the job of maintaining such a landscape can be difficult and require a considerable amount of work. To avoid spending countless hours mowing, weed-eating, and edging in vain, it is important to take the proper steps to ensure the grass you’re dedicating so much of your time to is healthy and full of potential.

To make sure your lawn looks the best it possibly can, Dr. David Han, an Alabama Extension turf specialist, shares his expertise.


One thing Han made clear is that if you plan on fertilizing your lawn, now is the time to do so.

Han said, “Now is a great time to fertilize if you haven’t already. You want to be sure to use a rate of one pound of nitrogen per thousand square feet of lawn.

“If you find a fertilizer that’s marketed as a turf fertilizer, they will always list the recommended area the product covers in square feet on the bag.  I would always follow those guidelines.” Han added.

Another important thing to know when preparing to fertilize your grass is the size of your lawn.

Han said, “One thing people should consider is finding out how big their yards are if they don’t know already. It’s tough to know how much fertilizer to buy and spread if you don’t know how much surface you need to be covering.”

Not only is the amount of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn important to keep in mind, but so is the type of grass in the lawn, because some grass needs more fertilizer than others.

“The amount of fertilizer you should use during the summer depends on what type of grass you have. If you have Bermuda grass I would fertilize three or four times. Zoysia grass should be fertilized two to three times and if you have centipede grass, now is the only time to fertilize it. It won’t need to be fertilized again until next year,” added Han.


One of the most important parts of growing a pristine green lawn is making sure your grass has adequate water. However, your grass doesn’t require as much water as some might think.

“You really don’t need to water your lawn as much as a lot of people think you do. This week, for example, we got right about an inch of rain, so that’s probably going to last for a whole week. So even if we don’t have another drop of rain you probably won’t need to water the  lawn until the weekend.”

Obviously as spring turns into summer, the weather will get hotter and grass will need more water to thrive. But even then, the rate of watering your lawn shouldn’t be too dramatic.

Han said, “In the middle of the summer when grass is growing its fastest, and it’s 95 degrees outside, water two, maybe three times a week. I would water deeply and infrequently as opposed to a little bit every day.”


One thing everyone with a lawn has in common is a healthy disdain for native weeds. But according to Han, if you haven’t initiated a pre-emergence weed plan yet, you may have to get comfortable with a few unwelcome weeds growing in your yard.

Han said, “Unfortunately, right now it’s a little late to pre-emerge for weeds because they’ve probably  started coming up. Now you’ll have to handle them with a post-emergence weed killer. There are lot of them on the market, and they generally work pretty well on common weeds.”

The key to preventing weeds is to stop them before they start growing. It may be too late to stop a lot of the weed growth this summer, but it’s never too late to look ahead to future seasons.

Han said, “Next fall — September or October — will be the time to put out a pre-emergence to kill winter weeds.”

Now is the time to start the process of fertilization and weed prevention to ensure optimal lawn health. Summer in Alabama can be long and hot, and can cause great strain on lawns. For  best results, it is important that you follow these steps to make your lawn as healthy.

Source: How to Make Your Lawn the Envy of the Neighborhood – Extension Daily

Extension Launches New Nutrition Website – Extension Daily


AUBURN, Ala. – The Alabama Cooperative Extension System recently launched a new website in conjunction with its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) social media initiative, Live Well Alabama. The social media initiative launched in early 2017 to better reach residents across the state with research-based nutrition and physical activity education.

Live Well Alabama Initiative

“The Live Well Alabama initiative has been a goal of Alabama SNAP-Ed for a long time,” said Dr. Barbara Struempler, director of Alabama Extension nutrition programs. “The new website showcases our program’s uniqueness to provide opportunities to reach and educate Alabamians across the state.”

The new website includes articles about nutrition efforts in schools, featuring the Alabama SNAP-Ed Body Quest: Food of the Warrior program; community outreach efforts in emergency food assistance; healthier retail; farmers markets and gardens; and additional health publications and educational resources by Alabama Extension.

“Live Well Alabama is an initiative that assists communities improve personal health, reduce public and personal health costs, increase low impact exercise opportunities and improve quality of life,” said Dr. Gary Lemme, director of Alabama Extension.


SNAP-Ed targets food assistance participants and others with limited resources in all Alabama counties. Improving dietary and physical activity behaviors of individuals and families, and building partnerships to improve the health of communities are among key Live Well Alabama efforts.

Visit the Live Well Alabama website at livewell.aces.edu. To follow the social media initiative, visit facebook.com/livewellalabama, twitter.com/livewellalabama and pinterest.com/livewellalabama.Featured image by iStock

Source: Extension Launches New Nutrition Website – Extension Daily

What is a Master Gardener and How Do I Join?

AUBURN, Ala. – Do you wish you had a garden that looks like a feature in Southern Living Magazine, but you just don’t have the “green thumb” like your great-grandmother? The good news is that there are qualified people who are able to answer your questions if you reach out – they are called Master Gardeners.

The Master Gardener program was founded in 1972 by the Washington State University Cooperative Extension. The goal of the program is to train volunteers who will give gardening advice to those who seek it. There are organized programs in all 50 states and eight Canadian provinces.

Master Gardener Program in 30 Alabama Counties

Kerry Smith, State MG Program Coordinator

According to State Master Gardener Program Coordinator Kerry Smith, Alabama has Master Gardener programs in about 30 counties. The County Extension offices host the educational MG training classes.

Each Master Gardener group has their own projects. From demonstration gardens to tree plantings, Ask a Master Gardener at various outlets to County Fair booths, Earth Day activities to a Lunch and Learn, their passion is inspiring.

The Lee County MG’s have three demonstration gardens, all intended to teach anyone interested in gardening. The MG garden at Kiesel Park,  in Auburn, is tended most Tuesday mornings during the growing season.

Lee County Master Gardeners of Alabama

Kiesel Park – Photo by Charlot Ritenbaugh


Smith develops the class content and works with local Extension agents who coordinate the county-based programs. “Basically, we cram two years of undergraduate horticulture instruction into 13 classes. It’s quite a commitment,” Smith said. To become a certified Master Gardener, you must complete the classwork and 50 hours of volunteer service in a community project. Many projects, such as a community food garden in Marshall County, are active in each location.

Whether volunteers are teaching gardening techniques or donating 11,000 pounds of produce to local charities, the program is made to serve others. Smith said, “The Master Gardeners help reinforce the land grant mission of Auburn University and validate that Extension is valuable to the state and community.”

Although most MG volunteers are retirees, they welcome community partners to get active and find their place alongside them no matter how much time you have to spend. Gardening is also a way for high school and college students to get active in service opportunities. Partnerships are available through local Master Gardener associations. All of them promote community service and education.

Ways to get involved

To get involved, call your County Extension office, or visit http://www.aces.edu/directory/. From there, you are linked to the proper contacts of a Master Gardener program nearby.

Reach a local Master Gardener with your gardening questions by calling the MG Helpline, 877-252-4769 (877-ALAGROW)

Source: What is a Master Gardener and How Do I Join?

Birmingham’s Plant Diagnostic Laboratory


The function of the Birmingham Plant Diagnostic Lab is to identify disease causing pathogens of plants and recommend appropriate treatments for their control. In the human medical field, this is the same function that a diagnostic lab would perform for a medical doctor. The ultimate goal of the diagnostic lab is to reduce the misuse and the overuse of pesticides in our landscape settings. Accurate disease diagnosis is the first step in reaching this goal. Diagnostic techniques include visual as well as microscopic examination, culture isolation, serology, bioassays, and other biotic tests. Soil testing includes pH levels and total soluble salts. Complete soil testing will be referred to the ACES/AAES Soil, Forage, & Water Testing Lab at Auburn University.

The Plant Diagnostic Lab is located at the C. Beaty Hanna Horticulture & Environmental Center. This state-of-the-art facility is staffed with a plant pathologist/diagnostician and offers a place where homeowners and commercial representatives can bring their plants to be diagnosed for a minimal fee. Services include:

  • Visual examination for disease as well as for insect, nutritional, cultural, and herbicide problems
  • Microscopic evaluation to determine a disease-causing agent
  • Tissue culture isolation for various fungal or bacterial identification
  • A variety of specific diagnostic tests as needed
  • Soil pH testing (Regular soil testing will be conducted at Auburn University.)
  • Collaboration with the ACES/AAES Soil, Forage, & Water Testing Lab at Auburn University, entomologists, weed scientists, horticulturists, and pathologists

James Jacobi – Plant Pathologist/Lab Supervisor
Address: 2612 Lane Park Rd., Birmingham, AL 35223-1802
Phone: (205) 879-6964 ext. 19
FAX: (205) 414-3906

C. Beaty Hanna Horticulture & Environmental Center


The Hanna Center is housed at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens (directions). The center serves as a horticulture and environmental resource for the Birmingham Metropolitan Region.  Services are directed toward the unique challenges of managing the urban ecosystem.

A large part of the Hannah Center‘s mission is to work with and train volunteers to help carry out ACES broader mission.  One such volunteer group is the Jefferson County Master Gardeners who operate the Gary Gerlach Plant Information Center (GPIC) located on the first floor of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens just below the Hanna Center.  Locally, you can reach a Master Gardener by phone at (205) 879-6964 x15 or come by and visit whenever they are on duty. You may also try our toll free number to speak with a Master Gardener locally and in other areas across Alabama by dialing: 1-877-252-GROW (4769).

C. Beaty Hanna Horticulture & Environmental Center
2612 Lane Park Road, Birmingham, Al. 35223
Phone (205) 879-6964  Fax(205) 414-3906

Making a Difference in Jefferson County


Alabama Extension is making a difference in Jefferson County through programs that help individuals, families, and communities make decisions that improve quality of life and economic well-being. Learn about specific opportunities in this county and how Extension responded to needs in environmental stewardship, health and wellness, workforce development, financial literacy, gardening and home grounds, sustainable agriculture and forestry systems, safe and security food supply, 4-H and youth development, and disaster recovery.  Continue Reading… (pdf)

Rainwater Harvesting Workshops


About 40 percent of rivers, lakes, and estuaries in the United States are not clean enough to meet basic uses, such as fishing or swimming. You might think it’s caused by easily identified polluters such as industry, but the greatest source of water quality problems is non-point source pollution.

Birmingham and other urban areas are major contributors to NPS pollution. That is a result of storm water runoff from paved surfaces and rooftops as well as the relatively high concentration of chemicals, waste materials, fertilizers and other potential pollutants associated with lawn and garden activities.

Think about what happens when rain hits your roof and flows away. Water flowing across lawns, streets and parking lots picks up dirt, trash, fertilizer, lawn chemicals, soil, grease, bits of rubber tires, animal waste, and other things left behind by people and animals.

Traditional storm water management practices focus on the collection and rapid removal of rainwater from the point of impact through a system of underground pipes and storm sewers, transferring water directly to sewer outfalls without pre-treatment. The goal is to reduce or control localized flooding. But it generates polluted runoff, disrupts the natural hydrologic cycle, and adds to the contamination and scouring of streams and rivers.

In contrast, a “water smart” plan would treat water as a resource to be preserved, maintained, and saved for a “not so” rainy day in the future. This new approach seeks to manage storm water on individual home sites in a decentralized manner as opposed to the traditional centralized approach.

Homeowners can do several things to chip away at this monumental problem. As with most large problems, a number of small efforts can have a large cumulative effect on the problem. This is true with rainwater harvesting. It is an ancient practice enjoying a revival as an alternative water supply with the added benefit of reducing storm water runoff. Communities in ancient Rome were designed with individual cisterns and paved courtyards, which captured rainwater to augment supply from the city’s aqueducts. The practice involves collecting rainwater from a roof or other surface before it reaches the ground and storing it for future use.

Model Rain Barrel System This summer in the Birmingham metro area three rainwater harvesting workshops were conducted with more than 120 homeowners participating. The workshops’ objectives were to inform and train homeowners about basic storm water issues and how harvesting rainwater could save money and improve water quality by:

  1. Keeping relatively clean water out of the combined sewer system and make it available for non-potable uses.
  2. Reduce the energy and chemicals needed to treat and transport storm water.
  3. Reduce the volume and peak flows of storm water entering the sewer, reducing flooding and combined sewer overflows.
  4. Reduce the volume of potable water used for non-potable applications such as irrigation and toilet flushing.

After the workshop, 84 percent of the participants said they were very or extremely likely to install a rain barrel or rain tank to harvest water from their homes’ roofs. A similar amount said they planned to store the water for use on their landscape or vegetable garden as a replacement for municipal water use. In addition to reducing runoff, homeowners would reduce their need for municipal potable water for uses not requiring potable water.

The survey took a snapshot of the participant’s level of understanding on eleven major areas. We rated understanding on a scale from 1 to 5, and the average pre workshop score was 2.8 while the average post workshop score was 4.4 or a 57 percent increase in their level of understanding. Some of the topics covered included how to compute potential water harvest from a roof top, how to build your own rain barrel or cistern, safety concerns, system maintenance and potential uses for the water.

Four months after the workshop, a follow up survey was conducted to determine what the participants had done and what they planned to do in the future. One hundred surveys were sent out, and we received 40 responses. Forty percent had already installed a rain harvest device; 32 percent were still researching but planned to install a device in the future; and another 20 percent had the system designed but not installed. We asked participants who had not installed rain harvest devices why they had not, and the two greatest reasons were the rainy summer (35 percent) or a lack of time (20 percent).   However when asked if they planned to install a system before the summer of 2010, the response was 95 percent positive. Several who had not yet installed a system said things like, “It has been so wet I did not see the need of installing a system until next year” or “I understand how to and I still plan to install the system later”.

We asked those who did install a system what they were using the water for and 55 percent said irrigation. This number was lower than anticipated based on the workshop survey but can be explained by the unusually wet summer and fall in the Birmingham area. Other uses included washing cars (7 percent), cleaning sidewalks or driveways (7 percent) and a small percentage using water for houseplants and pets.

Rainwater harvesting is one small part of the solution for NPS pollution in urban areas, but the potential impact is significant. The trend of rising water and sewer rates in the Birmingham area has and will continue to cause interest in rain water harvesting from an economic standpoint. Also, from an environmental concern, we expect interest to continue as well. In addition to rain water harvesting, a full 80 percent of the respondents expressed an interest in attending other water management workshops such as designing a home rain garden to divert storm water from the storm drain system.  This response indicates a desire to have an impact on the overall water quality and to reduce storm water runoff through methods other than potentially money saving methods such as rainwater harvesting. We are now planning rain garden workshops for 2010 to meet this expressed need.


A success Story for ETP20R: Rainwater Collection, Water Conservation and Irrigation Methods Training – U&NNTP
By Tony A. Glover from Cullman County on 2009-12-10
Co-authors: Sallie M. Lee, Charles B. Pinkston, Catherine Sabota, Kerry P. Smith

For more information, visit the ACES Rainwater Collection website or contact the Jefferson County Extension office.