FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail Local graduates are gaining experience as interns with State Rep. Holli Sullivan (R-Evansville) and her fellow members of the House of Representatives during the 2017 legislative session.Ryan Francis, a resident of Evansville, is the son of Dan and Kristi Francis. A North High School graduate, Francis is a junior at Indiana University in Bloomington where he is majoring in economics and political science.Rachel Swartwood is the daughter of Steve and Lisane Swartwood. Also a resident of Evansville, Swartwood attended Memorial High School. She is a 2016 graduate of Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis and earned a bachelor’s degree in civic leadership.As legislative interns, Francis and Swartwood correspond with constituents through phone calls, letters and emails. They also help staff committee hearings and floor proceedings.“Interning with the House of Representatives is a great opportunity for students to learn and gain experience with our state government,” Sullivan said. “The work Ryan, Rachel and our interns do behind the scenes helps the Indiana General Assembly to function more efficiently on a daily basis.”The House of Representatives offers paid internship opportunities to college students, law-school students, graduate students and recent college graduates for the duration of each legislative session.Visit www.indianahouserepublicans.com/2017-house-republican-internship-program for more information about the House Republican internship program.
Every spring, ads in Sunday newspaper supplements promise plants with unbelievableyields or fantastic blooms all summer. They boast of trees that grow as tall as a house ina single season.One that’s truly not what it seems is the “tree tomato,” said University ofGeorgia expert Wayne McLaurin. NO TOMATOES. The South American fruit, Cyphomandra betacea, is often called “tree tomato.” But it isn’t a tomato at all. “The fruit is more tart and jelly-like and has more seeds,” says UGA horticulturist Wayne McLaurin. “That old plant resurfaces almost every year,” said McLaurin, an ExtensionService horticulturist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.This year’s ads list the plant as “Giant Tree.””As usual, the seller promises yields up to 60 pounds per plant and stems thatgrow to 8 feet tall,” he said. “The plants supposedly don’t need staking orcaging, either.”But it looks like the same plant McLaurin has seen before. “If it’s what has beenmarketed before as a ‘tree tomato,'” he said, “it’s botanically known as Cyphomandrabetacea, a very different species from garden tomatoes.”Actually, the “tree tomato” is a tropical, semiwoody shrub. It grows as muchas 10 feet high and starts bearing fruit in the second or third year. However, the leastamount of frost will kill the plant,” McLaurin said.And that’s not all the of the bad news. “This plant is in no way related to thetomato,” he said. “The fruit is more tart and jelly-like than our garden tomato.And it has many more seeds.”He smiles and shakes his head as he reads the ad closely. “They’re sending out aseed planted in a pot at about $3.50 each (plus shipping),” he said. “That’s oneexpensive plant.”McLaurin’s advice to potential buyers is simple. Take care of your true tomatoes.”You’ll be much happier,” he said. “It’s always wise to read all the fineprint in these ads. And keep in mind that old saying, ‘If it sounds too good to be true,it probably is!'”
Dear EarthTalk: I’ve noticed that bamboo is very trendy right now, apparently—in part—for environmental reasons. Can you enlighten? — Eric M., via e-mail Bamboo has a long history of economic and cultural significance, primarily in East Asia and South East Asia where it has been used for centuries for everything from building material to food to medicine. There are some 1,000 different species of bamboo growing in very diverse climates throughout the world, including the southeastern United States. Bamboo’s environmental benefits arise largely out of its ability to grow quickly—in some cases three to four feet per day—without the need for fertilizers, pesticides or much water. Bamboo also spreads easily with little or no care. In addition, a bamboo grove releases some 35 percent more oxygen into the air than a similar-sized stand of trees, and it matures (and can be replanted) within seven years (compared to 30-50 years for a stand of trees), helping to improve soil conditions and prevent erosion along the way. Bamboo is so fast-growing that it can yield 20 times more timber than trees on the same area. Today, heightened consumer environmental awareness has given sales of bamboo flooring, clothing, building materials and other items a huge boost. As an attractive and sturdy alternative to hardwood flooring, bamboo is tough to beat. According to Pacific Northwest green building supplier Ecohaus, bamboo—one of the firm’s top selling flooring options—is harder, more moisture resistant and more stable than even oak hardwoods. Ecohaus carries both the EcoTimber and Teragren brands of bamboo, and ships worldwide. Bamboo is also making waves in the clothing industry as an eco-chic and functional new fabric. Softer than cotton and with a texture more akin to silk or cashmere, bamboo clothes naturally draw moisture away from the skin, so it’s great for hot weather or for sweaty workouts. It also dries in about half the time as cotton clothing. Some critics point out that the process of converting bamboo to fabric can take a heavy environmental toll, with the most cost-effective and widespread method involving a harsh chemical-based hydrolysis-alkalization process followed by multi-phase bleaching. The Green Guide counters, though, that bamboo still has a much lower environmental impact than pesticide-laden conventional cotton and petroleum-derived nylon and polyester fabrics. Consumers interested in trying out bamboo clothing should look for the Bamboosa and EcoDesignz labels, two of the leaders in the fast-growing sector of green fashion. Bamboo is also making inroads into the paper industry, though there are fears that too fast a transition there would threaten ecologically diverse bamboo forests across Southeast Asia and elsewhere. The Earth Island Institute, among other groups concerned about forest loss due to paper consumption, would instead like to see more research into using agricultural waste to make paper instead of wood pulp or bamboo. Regardless, bamboo in all its forms might one day soon be one of the most important plants in the world. CONTACTS: Ecohaus, www.ecohaus.com; The Green Guide, www.thegreenguide.com; Bamboosa, www.bamboosa.com; EcoDesignz, www.ecodesignz.com; Earth Island Institute, www.earthisland.org. GOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL QUESTION? Send it to: EarthTalk, c/o E/The Environmental Magazine, P.O. Box 5098, Westport, CT 06881; submit it at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/thisweek/, or e-mail: [email protected] Read past columns at: www.emagazine.com/earthtalk/archives.php.