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Cochran and Borlaug Fellowship Program Alumni Gather in Zambia

Following his two weeks of Cochran Program training in North Carolina with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service (APHIS), Chiluba Mwape was able to develop a pest list for Zambia.  This has enabled the nation to conduct pest risk assessments for several Zambian fruits and vegetables—the only country in southern Africa to be able to do so. Dr. Precious Hamukwale, a professor at the University of Zambia, says her agribusiness training under the Borlaug Program has helped her to assist Zambian businesswomen to better explore their potential.  Mwape and Hamukwale are among 20 Zambian alumni of the USDA’s Cochran and Borlaug Fellowship Programs who spoke about how their training in the United States inspired them to make a difference in fellow citizens’ lives.  Read more »

USDA Assists with Import Requirements for Royal Gift

It’s not unusual for devoted gardeners to share favorite plants and seeds with each other, even across international borders.  When doing so, it’s extremely important that these items don’t harbor pests or diseases that could harm other plants or the environment.  While the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Export Services staff mainly deals with commercial shipments, occasionally, we assist amateur gardeners with exchanging items internationally.

Last month I had the wonderful opportunity to help a noted Washington, D.C. couple, who are avid gardeners, take a special gift to their hosts across the Atlantic Ocean.  During their May visit to the United Kingdom,  President and Mrs. Obama presented Prince Charles of Wales and his wife Camilla, with a selection of  34 different types of plants and seeds from the gardens of Mount Vernon, Monticello and the White House. Read more »

Let’s Move! in Action at the USDA Farmers Market and People’s Garden

Stephen Kendall, Food Donations Coordinator at DC Central Kitchen, and students from Powell Elementary School in NW, DC hunt for  herbs in the Truck Farm during the USDA Farmers Market and the official kick off of the People's Garden Friday activities on Friday, June 3, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Stephen Kendall, Food Donations Coordinator at DC Central Kitchen, and students from Powell Elementary School in NW, DC hunt for herbs in the Truck Farm during the USDA Farmers Market and the official kick off of the People's Garden Friday activities on Friday, June 3, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

In his opening remarks at this season’s first Department of Agriculture Farmers Market, held adjacent to our headquarters on the National Mall, Secretary Vilsack spoke about the national movement to rebuild our rural economy and connect urban communities with America’s farmers. The market—a bustle of activity with a crowd of shoppers purchasing produce, homemade preserves, and artisanal bread—was a festive celebration of that movement, but not the only attraction of the day! Read more »

Local Partnership Fosters Sustainable, Affordable, Livable Communities in Oregon

A volunteer crew helps construct a home in rural Oregon through the USDA Self Help Program.

A volunteer crew helps construct a home in rural Oregon through the USDA Self Help Program.

This month, one of our long-time and valued partners, Umpqua Community Development Corporation (CDC)—soon to be known as Neighborworks Umpqua—in Southwest Oregon, celebrates its 20th anniversary. It is fitting for this special event to occur during National Homeownership Month, since Umpqua CDC has partnered with USDA Rural Development on numerous affordable housing efforts, as well as economic development projects. This work has had a direct and profound impact on the livability, sustainability and economy of communities here in Southwest Oregon. Read more »

Smart Grid to Help Kaua’i Island Utility Meet Renewable Goal

Today’s  White House’s release of the report, Policy Framework for the 21st Century Grid: Enabling Our Secure Energy Future, provides a path toward modernization of the electric grid and can help make our electric system more efficient by investing in technologies that can transform utility infrastructure.

A case in point is the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative (KIUC). Currently, diesel generators provide approximately 90 percent of KIUC’s electric power. The island of Kauai has no interconnections with other power systems. So to meet demand, the utility must generate all of its power. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Loan Guarantee Improves Access to Local Foods in St. Peter, Minn.

The St. Peter Food Co-op has been a valuable asset to the south central region of Minnesota for over 31 years. I realized just how valuable as I sat down to eat lunch at the co-op recently.

General manager Margo O’Brien had just given us a tour and hosted an event to publicly recognize the USDA’s role in financing the new facility. After signing the closing documents on a loan guarantee through nearby Wells Federal Bank and Rural Development’s Business & Industry loan guarantee program, it was time for lunch. Read more »