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Making a Big Difference Through the Simple Act of Gardening

Volunteers planted an heirloom variety of tomato called ‘Abraham Lincoln’ in People’s Garden throughout the world to celebrate USDA’s 150th Anniversary in 2012. More than 11,800 pounds of Lincoln Tomatoes were harvested and donated to food banks.

Volunteers planted an heirloom variety of tomato called ‘Abraham Lincoln’ in People’s Garden throughout the world to celebrate USDA’s 150th Anniversary in 2012. More than 11,800 pounds of Lincoln Tomatoes were harvested and donated to food banks.

It’s National Volunteer Week and an ideal time to share how USDA employees and partners are volunteering their time to green communities and provide fresh food to those in need.

It all started in 2009 when Agriculture Secretary Vilsack established a Department-wide volunteer program for the People’s Garden Initiative. He encouraged every USDA employee to get involved by volunteering time and expertise to create a People’s Garden – a challenge he then extended to all Americans. Read more »

National Volunteer Week: Arkansas Student Volunteer Finds Career, Wins Award

Amanda Carrell holds a deep tillage radish, which is used as a conservation cover crop. The radishes help break up soil compaction and increases water infiltration. (NRCS photo)

Amanda Carrell holds a deep tillage radish, which is used as a conservation cover crop. The radishes help break up soil compaction and increases water infiltration. (NRCS photo)

Amanda Carrell’s two passions in life are volunteering and agriculture.

Luckily, as a student in a soil and water conservation course at Arkansas State University, Carrell was introduced to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Earth Team program, which allowed her to combine the two. Read more »

Can We Eradicate the Asian Longhorned Beetle?

Asian longhorned beetle and "exit hole." Credit: R. Anson Eaglin, USDA-APHIS

Asian longhorned beetle and "egg site." Credit: R. Anson Eaglin, USDA-APHIS

This past March, almost 11 years after being found in New Jersey, federal and state agriculture officials are finally able to say that the state’s long-running battle against the non-native Asian longhorned beetle (ALB) is over.

New Jersey is the second state to declare itself free from the invasive tree-killing insect.  The beetle was successfully eradicated from Illinois in 2008, and the ALB-regulated area of Islip, New York, also achieved eradication in 2011.  So, getting rid of this “hungry pest” is possible.  That’s good news, because, depending on where you live, 70 percent of your community’s tree canopy could be lost to ALB. Read more »

Alaska Native “Strike Force” Community Observes Earth Day with Improved Water Service

The City of Kasaan’s new 150,000 gallon water storage tank.  Quality water for an Alaska Native Community provided through the USDA Rural Alaska Village Grant Program,  Photo taken by Jerry Cnossen, Project Superintendent for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) and used with permission.

The City of Kasaan’s new 150,000 gallon water storage tank. Quality water for an Alaska Native Community provided through the USDA Rural Alaska Village Grant Program, Photo taken by Jerry Cnossen, Project Superintendent for the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC) and used with permission.

The rural Native village of Kasaan is located in Southeast Alaska and is nearly 700 miles north of Seattle. Earth Day 2013 highlighted USDA Rural Development’s efforts to improve environmental and health conditions in rural Alaskan communities.  Part of that effort is the successful completion of the Kasaan Water Project.

Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding of the project in the summer of 2011.  The funding was provided through USDA’s Rural Alaska Village Grant (RAVG) program. The project is another successful culmination in the partnerships between USDA, the State of Alaska, the Indian Health Service and the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC).  The new infrastructure was put into operation after a final inspection on March 20th. Read more »

Building A Better “Fly Swatter” Based on Science

Common house fly, Musca domestica."

Common house fly, Musca domestica.

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

We’ve all heard the old saying, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  But that’s part of the problem where these germ-spreading pests are concerned:  House fly larvae can protect themselves against our most effective pesticides by burrowing deep into gooey substances like food, and adult house flies are very adept at developing resistance to pesticides. Read more »