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Alabama Landowner Grows Produce in Winter, Models Conservation Practices

l-r:  Earl Snell and James Currington inspect the tomatoes growing in Snell's hoop house.

l-r: Earl Snell and James Currington inspect the tomatoes growing in Snell's hoop house.

On a recent December day, Earl and Clarisse Snell, of Skipperville, Alabama, proudly showed off the summer squash and tomatoes they were still growing at the start of winter thanks to the seasonal high tunnel they built earlier in the year. Also called hoop houses, seasonal high tunnels look a lot like greenhouses but require no artificial energy source—all they need is natural sunlight to grow vegetables, fruits, and other crops. Read more »

Regional Effort for Economic Development Gets Underway in Louisiana

Representatives of five rural Louisiana regions participated with USDA Rural Development, Southern Rural Development Center, Louisiana Economic Development, and the AgCenters at Louisiana State and Southern University as they launched the “Stronger Economies Together” (SET) Program. This meeting was held at the LSU Agricultural Center located in Central Louisiana.

This kickoff starts the planning stage for the teams as they work together to develop new approaches to strengthen and enhance regional economic development activities in their communities. Stacey Brayboy, USDA Rural Development, Director of Community and Economic Development from Washington, D.C. was the keynote speaker. Read more »

Vermont Lenders and Service Providers Learn about Access to Capital for Farms and Food

Access to capital for farm and food businesses was the focus of a two-day workshop in December sponsored by the Vermont Farm Viability Program and the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. The event was supported by the Vermont Agriculture Innovation Center which provides technical assistance to small value added food businesses and producers through a USDA Agriculture Innovation Grant to the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. Read more »

Chef Helps Special Needs School Children Explore New Foods

Chef Jamie McFadden and Special Needs students at Morning Star School in Orlando, Fla., make fresh apple sauce as part of the Chefs Move to School initiative.

Chef Jamie McFadden and Special Needs students at Morning Star School in Orlando, Fla., make fresh apple sauce as part of the Chefs Move to School initiative.

Cross-posted from the Let’s Move! Blog:

Morning Star School for special needs children in Orlando, Fla., is enjoying a culinary experience they’ll never forget thanks to First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Chefs Move to Schools” initiative and local Chef Jamie McFadden. To the student’s joy, McFadden visited the school and shared cooking projects that their team had just completed.  Chef McFadden relayed that the children were a delight and engaged, as their time together focused on fresh fruits and vegetables, food safety, and sanitation practices.  Thus far, the students have explored apples and pumpkins, and have learned about the history and origins of the foods they enjoy. Read more »

Going Mobile: Co-ops operate traveling slaughter units to help grow local foods movement

Puget Sound Meat Producers Cooperative was founded because small livestock producers' livelihoods were threatened by having to travel long distances to slaughterhouses. The Washington based slaughter unit operates at three venues on a weekly or semi-weekly schedule.

[Note: the following is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared in the November/December issue of Rural Cooperatives, a magazine published by USDA Rural Development]

Puget Sound Meat Producers Cooperative has been operating for just over a year, with a roll of 60 voting members in nine contiguous counties, and another 30 associate members. Read more »

2011 Healthy Birds Calendar Tips to Poultry Owners

Backyard poultry owners will find colorful chickens and turkeys, as well as ducks, parrots and some grand geese among a 12-month spread of domestic, wild and exotic birds in the 2011 Backyard Biosecurity calendar.  They’ll also find a year’s worth of solid information to help them raise healthy birds and keep them free from disease.

The calendars are widely distributed throughout the country by USDA, particularly through extension service.  “In Arkansas, we distribute the calendars at many poultry activities,” said Dr. Fred Dustan Clark, director of Agricultural Cooperative Extension Service in the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science at the University of Arkansas.  “We use them at our pullet chain (when chicks are delivered to 4H students) all over the state, when we do seminars for 4H, at Farm Days and we put them in feed stores,” Clark added. Read more »