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Forest Service is Aflutter with Native Plant and Pollinator Gardens

The Cranberry Mountain Nature Center Native Plant and Pollinator Garden is located along an accessible walkway with views of the highland Scenic Highway. (U.S. Forest Service photo/Diana Stull)

The Cranberry Mountain Nature Center Native Plant and Pollinator Garden is located along an accessible walkway with views of the highland Scenic Highway. (U.S. Forest Service photo/Diana Stull)

With a view of majestic mountains in the background, visitors to the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center of the Monongahela National Forest find themselves immersed in a bevy of beautiful plants in bloom and fluttering monarch butterflies. Beneath the natural grandeur, a very essential ecosystem service is taking place – pollination.

In celebration of National Pollinator Week, June 17-21, 2013, the Forest Service invites you to come and visit the beautiful gems called Native Plant and Pollinator gardens currently in bloom in the Eastern Region. Read more »

From West Virginia to Ohio, Food Fuels the Local Economy

West Virginia State Director Bobby Lewis and others visited Tucker County High School near Hambleton West Virginia as part of ARC’s tour through Appalachia. The group met with local educators and students to discuss the farm to school program; school, community and industry relationships; local farmers markets and greenhouse and high tunnel operation.  While there, the group toured a high tunnel currently under construction. Photo Credit: Savanna Lyons of the WV Food & Farm Coalition

West Virginia State Director Bobby Lewis and others visited Tucker County High School near Hambleton West Virginia as part of ARC’s tour through Appalachia. The group met with local educators and students to discuss the farm to school program; school, community and industry relationships; local farmers markets and greenhouse and high tunnel operation. While there, the group toured a high tunnel currently under construction. Photo Credit: Savanna Lyons of the WV Food & Farm Coalition

West Virginia and Appalachian Ohio have a lot in common beyond their shared state border.  With a strong agricultural heritage, these vast rural areas are known for their forest and timber industries, and they are integrating food systems into local economic development.

Earlier this month, I joined Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Co-Chair Earl Gohl and Ohio’s State Rural Development Director Tony Logan to take a look at local food in the Buckeye state. My colleague, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Joani Walsh, recently made a similar trip to West Virginia. Organized by ARC, the visits were an opportunity to discuss how local food is diversifying the economy, developing a more competitive workforce and generating opportunities within regions like Appalachia. “Through our work on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, we know that there are lots of ways  that local foods are providing economic opportunities in rural communities,” said Walsh. “These  visits with ARC gave us a clearer picture of how that is happening in Appalachia.” Read more »

New Investment to Kick Off National Small Business Week

In rural America, the local community drives the rural economy. Main Street businesses are critical to economic growth. USDA is pleased to join with the Small Business Administration to recognize and honor America’s small businesses this week, during National Small Business Week.

In rural America, the local community drives the rural economy. Main Street businesses are critical to economic growth. USDA is pleased to join with the Small Business Administration to recognize and honor America’s small businesses this week, during National Small Business Week.

In rural America, the local community drives the rural economy. Main Street businesses are critical to economic growth. Money spent and invested locally rolls through a community and generates even more economic benefits.

That’s why rural small businesses are critical to strong rural communities. And it’s why USDA is pleased to join with the Small Business Administration to recognize and honor America’s small businesses this week, during National Small Business Week. Read more »