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Going Green: Green Roofs and Rain Barrels

Here is the concept drawing for the People’s Garden exhibit at the  2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival including the green roof and rain barrel. Drawing by Dixi Wang, USDA landscape architect intern.

Here is the concept drawing for the People’s Garden exhibit at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival including the green roof and rain barrel. Drawing by Dixi Wang, USDA landscape architect intern.

In my first interview I talked about the design and construction of the People’s Garden shed located at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the importance of using reclaimed materials. The shed also includes a variety of environmentally-friendly features such as a green roof and rain barrel. Visitors are asking how a green roof and rain barrel are built, and what environmental benefits they provide. I talked with Edward Murtagh, Sustainable Operations Manager in USDA’s Office of Operations about the addition of a green roof and rain barrel to the shed. Read more »

History and Research Converge in American Chestnut Reintroduction

Leila Pinchot with an American chestnut sapling.

Leila Pinchot with an American chestnut sapling.

You may start out wanting to talk to Leila Pinchot about a Forest Service icon, but the great granddaughter of Gifford Pinchot has much more to say about the future of another legend, the American chestnut.

One of the seminal figures in world conservation, Gifford Pinchot founded and served as the first chief of the U.S. Forest Service. The eastern forests we know today are distinctly different than the forests Gifford Pinchot would have known 100 years ago – they are missing the American chestnut, which dominated forests in the eastern United States. Read more »

Opening Doors for Small and Mid-Sized Farmers in National Retail Markets

A GAP-certified farm field. Through a new agreement, AMS will provide auditing services to verify farmers are meeting Produce GAP Harmonized Food Safety Standards and Wal-Mart specific food safety requirements. Photo provided by Mission Produce

When buying produce, many consumers note food safety as one of the most important things they consider.  Consumers prefer produce backed by trustworthy verified and certified processes. As a result, more retail and foodservice sectors are requiring growers to undergo food safety audits.  In an effort to meet this demand, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Fresh Products Division, which provides voluntary, audit-based programs utilizing Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices (GAP/GHP), recently reached an agreement with Wal-Mart.  Read more »

Building a home, a community, friendships…and values with USDA RD Self-Help Program

The Fonseca family in the living room of their new home.

“Even decades from now, after we die, our son will remember what we did to give him a home,” said Moises Fonseca in the comfortable living room of his new home. His six-year old son, also named Moises, smiled shyly at his dad. Read more »