Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Gardening, Farming Take Root in New York City

Dianna Grant of East New York Farms! Youth Internship program washes bok choy at the United Community Centers Youth Farm in Brooklyn, N.Y. East New York Farms! Is a recipient of the USDA Community Food Projects grant. Photo courtesy East New York Farms!

Dianna Grant of East New York Farms! Youth Internship program washes bok choy at the United Community Centers Youth Farm in Brooklyn, N.Y. East New York Farms! Is a recipient of the USDA Community Food Projects grant. Photo courtesy East New York Farms!

If your picture of New York City is skyscrapers and neon, consider expanding that image to include vegetable crops – a lot of vegetable crops – growing everywhere from ground level to rooftops. Read more »

USDA Support Helps Delaware Families Build Their Own Homes

Earlier this month I joined Delaware Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons in announcing USDA funding support for a project that will help 24 limited-income families build their own homes.  It’s called Self-Help Housing.

Under the program, limited-income credit-worthy families work together to build their own houses.  Usually, about eight families work together under the guidance of a construction foreman and the process takes about a year.  The program requires applicants to provide at least 65 percent of the labor, and at closing, this contribution becomes their “sweat equity.”  At the end of the process, USDA provides a direct homeownership loan at an interest rate of as little as one percent.

“The Self-Help Housing Program is one that instills a sense of pride in individuals as they work to build the very structure they will live in,” said Senator Carper. “Homeownership is part of the American dream, and programs like the USDA’s Rural Development Self Help Housing Program make that dream more accessible as we work our way out of this long and difficult recession,” Senator Coons said. Read more »

‘Tis the Season to be Counted: U.S. Farmers Give the Gift that Keeps Giving By Participating in 2012 Census

The end of December is typically marked by people returning holiday gifts that don’t fit or aren’t quite right. But this year, farmers and ranchers across the country can give themselves a gift that won’t be returned and will keep on giving even after the holiday season – a voice for their industry and their community.

By filling out the 2012 Census of Agriculture, farmers are investing in the future of their farm and American agriculture. Their responses provide a strong and unified voice about their needs and current state of the industry.  Law makers, government organizations, businesses, town planners and individual farm operations use this valuable information to help shape farm programs, boost rural services, and grow their farm futures. It’s an important investment into the future and well-being of farming and all of agriculture in America. Read more »

USDA Kentucky Staff Encourages Students to Pursue Careers in Agriculture

Middle and high school students from across the state gathered on the University of Kentucky (UK) campus earlier this month, to learn about potential careers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

UK’s College of Agriculture hosted the group, Jr. Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), with the intent of getting the students interested in pursuing a college education.

Representatives from a variety of USDA agencies – including Rural Development, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – talked with students about their respective agencies, explaining their missions and what career fields were available throughout USDA. They also were interviewed by students about their job, explaining job responsibilities and how they came to work in their career field. Read more »

Recovery Act and NRCS Help Tennessee Town Fight Erosion

Recovery Act funding saved this bridge, the only direct thoroughfare to the town of Ripley, Tenn.

Recovery Act funding saved this bridge, the only direct thoroughfare to the town of Ripley, Tenn.

Steve Koonce, a Civil Engineering Technician with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), remembers swimming in Tennessee’s Cane Creek as a youngster, when he and friends would jump from a bridge into the water 15 feet below. But today, because of a catastrophic erosion problem, that activity would be a lot more dangerous. Read more »

USDA Rural Development Helps Make Holidays Merry for Pennsylvania Children

The Pennsylvania Rural Development staff and the toys that were donated to local children in need through the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Toy Drive.

The Pennsylvania Rural Development staff and the toys that were donated to local children in need through the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Toy Drive.

Rather than the traditional office name exchange this year, the Pennsylvania USDA Rural Development State Office staff added a new twist.  Each employee made a list of toys they enjoyed as children. The lists were exchanged and employees purchased toys for an eight year old version of their co-worker.  The wrapped toys were recently distributed at an office holiday gathering.

The staff enjoyed opening baby dolls, remote control helicopters, games and puzzles. As children, the staff may have had a difficult time handing over their new “toys” to strangers.  However, smiles were all around as over 30 unwrapped toys were picked up by two uniformed Marines to be delivered to their local distribution center. Read more »