Some very exciting things have come from all the computer time that COVID-19 forced upon the University of Florida technology specialists – new updated websites. If you haven’t searched for UF publications or Florida-Friendly Landscaping advice in a while, you will be pleasantly surprised at what is available.

UF/IFAS has had a long history of providing electronic access to publications, beginning in the early 1990s when it began producing handbooks of documents on CD-ROMS. By the mid-90s the Florida Agricultural Information Retrieval System (FAIRS) website went online. In 1998, the name was changed to Extension Data Information Source (EDIS) to reflect changes in its scope and function. EDIS became the single source for all Extension publications and was also adapted to permit Extension units to print documents on an as-needed basis. More recently in 2006, the UF/IFAS Solutions for Your Life web initiative has brought EDIS publications together with other valuable web resources. Now, after 25 years as a valuable online resource from UF/IFAS, the EDIS website has been rebranded as Ask IFAS. The new site is modern, mobile-friendly and will make Extension publications even easier to find.  There are many new features including videos and two Ask IFAS specific indexes: Experts and Topics. The new indexes enable users to find contact information for specific agents and specialists by their name or department.  Information by individual topics is easier to search also. Ask IFAS carries on EDIS’ role as a comprehensive, single-source repository of all current UF/IFAS numbered peer-reviewed publications. Each year, visitors to the EDIS website access one of over 6,500 publication titles more than 17.5 million times.

The website will soon be taken down.  But, the nine principles, plant database and recorded useful information has been updated and posted on the Florida-Friendly Landscaping site.  Information is organized by specific user groups, such as Home Landscapes, Community Landscape and Landscape Professionals. By utilizing the appropriate category, individuals can submit questions, join webinars and locate Florida-Friendly Certified Professionals.  Okaloosa and Bay counties have individuals that have completed the required training.  The criteria for earning Florida-Friendly status for residential or commercial landscapes is outlined on the website as well.  All nine principles provide tips on ways to apply practical techniques in any landscape. Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ in a Minute is a one-minute radio show that shares practical tips on Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ based on University of Florida horticultural research. The show airs twice every weekday and all shows are supported with helpful online links for more information.  Shows are recorded for any time viewing at a later date. Finally, the Florida-Friendly Plant Guide can be tailored by zip code and the app for your phone is free to download.  There is even a toxic plant and butterfly garden app.

Sheila Dunning
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