Keeping Wisconsin Produce Safe in a Season of Pandemic; Weird Ways of Climate Change

Explore the Unknown!

For October 14, 2020

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Hi WN@TL Fans,

After a lush, wet midsummer and a dust-dry August, the city trees & the country fields & the forest leaves are putting on a show of crimson and gold and orange and butterscotch. It is a bucolic reprieve, a rustic rainbow to tingle the retinas.  Now is the summer of our discovid made glorious fall by this sun of autumn.

The lockdown, or more accurately, the velcrodown, fertilized a spike in home gardening.  As for myself, I grew tomatoes and peppers in the parkway, the terrace, the road verge,  the easement, the boulevard, or whatever ya call that strip of tillable land between the sidewalk and the street at the corner of Adams and Garfield.

The writer of Genesis is not specific about which type of fruit was borne by the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil—the bait is  usually depicted as an apple, but I have evidence that the cherry tomato would suffice to entice.

Here in our Midwestern slice of East of Eden, the pandemic threw a pitchfork into the plans of truck farmers, orchardists, and farmers markets.  Among the states, Wisconsin punches above its weight when it comes to the commercial production of produce for local sale, and our farmers markets provide direct connections between country growers and town customers.

This week, we get to learn more about how growers and consumers have adjusted in this most extraordinary season.

On Wednesday, October 14,  Kristin Krokowski, Commercial Horticulture Educator of UW-Madison’s Division of Extension in Waukesha County, will share with us her horticultural insights.  She works to create timely and relevant education and information for the green industry, fruit and vegetable growers and farmers’ market managers throughout Wisconsin.

“Keeping Produce Safe and People Healthy” with Kristin Krokowski
With outbreaks of food borne illness and a global pandemic how can people be safe and access locally produced fruits and vegetables? Learn the steps farmers, Pick-Your-Own farms and farmers markets are taking to keep you safe and make sure you can get your produce.


On October 21 Ankur Desai, Professor of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, will speak on weird ways climate change is hitting us.

I note that I was in California in August for the beginning of the fires, and the apocalyptic skies qualified as weird for me.  Alas, I’m guessing the list runs much, much longer.  Here’s how Ankur describes his talk:

“Weird Ways Climate Change Will Affect Use That You Probably Didn’t Know”

You’ve probably heard about climate change and you’ve probably seen the news about heatwaves, forest fires, intense hurricanes, or shrinking glaciers. You can guess how those are linked and be mostly right. But there are also some harder to make sense impacts and some innovative ways to address those. Our lab has found curious links between climate change and windier lakes, wetter snow storms, lower crop yield, and cooler wetlands. Learning about these are not just academic exercises, but help us better understand how the Earth system works, improve our computer model predictions of future climate change, and develop novel ways to combat the worst effects.  So come join and get weird with us!


Remember, we now meet by Zoom, since we can’t gather all in one room.  If you have already registered for the WN@TL zoom series, you should be good through the end of May 2021.

If you haven’t signed up yet, please register at

I have set this up as a Zoom Meeting rather than as a Zoom Webinar.  This is good news for a couple of reasons:

1.  Our Zoom license does not include Webinars, so we couldn’t do Webinars anyways; and

2.  Zoom Meetings will allow everyone to choose whether to turn on their video; and I’ll be able to unmute you in the pre-talk warmup (we’ll probably fire up the video around 6:50pm) and you’ll be able to ask questions by audio or by chat.  I believe this is as close to the WN@TL experience in the Biotech Center Auditorium as the technology permits.

I’ll record the presentations and Q&A and post them on the WN@TL YouTube site.  Here’s mine from two weeks ago.

I’d be happy to respond to any questions or suggestions.


I hope to see you October 14 at 7 by Zoom, now that we can resume Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.

Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Division of Extension, Wisconsin 4-H