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USDA Employee Volunteers Are Back in the Garden & Community

(L to R) DC Central Kitchen in Washington, D.C. Rich Holcomb employee, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Brian Lounsbury, and USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Dewell Delgado Paez stand with a bin of just washed bok choy that was grown USDA headquarters Peoples Garden in Washington, D.C. USDA photo.

(L to R) DC Central Kitchen in Washington, D.C. Rich Holcomb employee, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Brian Lounsbury, and USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Dewell Delgado Paez stand with a bin of just washed bok choy that was grown USDA headquarters Peoples Garden in Washington, D.C. USDA photo.

Every week USDA employee volunteers pick ripe herbs and vegetables from the Headquarters People’s Garden and deliver it to DC Central Kitchen, a local community kitchen. So far this growing season more than 1,000 pounds of fresh food has been donated from the garden. This week’s harvest weighed in at 175 pounds and included 84 pounds of bok choy.

Our volunteers wanted to know what becomes of the food they’ve worked so hard to grow, pick and donate – particularly all that bok choy. That’s why yesterday morning they rolled up their sleeves in the Kitchen to learn how the food donated from the garden each week is made into delicious and nutritious meals. USDA employees worked alongside DCCK cooks to prepare trays of bean burritos (with chopped bok choy inside) and Spanish rice that are being delivered to partner agencies in the Washington metropolitan area, including homeless shelters, rehabilitation clinics, and afterschool programs today. Read more »

We Will Never Forget Our Fallen Firefighters

Forest Service firefighters work to contain a wildland fire. (U.S. Forest Service)

Forest Service firefighters work to contain a wildland fire. (U.S. Forest Service)

Few would ever take jobs that require one to literally run toward fire—and possible death—but that’s exactly what countless firefighters did last year. Seventy-three of those heroes didn’t live to tell about it. Their deaths happened on U.S. Forest Service-managed lands, in public and privately-owned buildings and just about any place fire can burn.

These fallen firefighters were remembered during a tribute held at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md. Oct.6. The National Firefighters Foundation has sponsored this national event every October since 1992 to honor all firefighters who died in the line of duty the previous year. Read more »

Residential Citrus Growers: Help Us Stop the Spread of Citrus Disease

Example of citrus greening leaves.

Example of citrus greening leaves.

If you are like millions of other Americans, there’s a chance you have a citrus tree or two growing in your yard. As a residential citrus grower, it is very important to check your trees regularly for signs of disease.

A diseased tree in your yard may seem like no big deal; however, it can easily spread disease to other nearby trees and make its way to large commercial groves where significant damage can be done. If citrus disease were to spread out of control, it has the potential to destroy the entire U.S. citrus industry, causing the loss of billions of dollars and millions of jobs. Read more »

First Winter Crop Deemed a Success with New High Tunnel

Mildred Griggs of Marianna, Ark., installed a seasonal high tunnel through the USDA StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.

Mildred Griggs of Marianna, Ark., installed a seasonal high tunnel through the USDA StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.

Mildred Griggs, of Marianna, Ark., wasn’t looking for bragging rights when she installed her new seasonal high tunnel, last year, but that’s what she earned this spring after harvesting her first winter vegetable crop.

“We had the best salad green mix in the region,” says Griggs.

With the high tunnel, Griggs was able to extend her fall growing season of fresh produce into the winter months. Her harvest included lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots and greens. Read more »

Lower-fat French Fries? You Bet!

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.

Americans love, love, love their spuds:  In 2010, per capita consumption of potatoes in the U.S. hit almost 114 pounds, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. One of our favorite ways to dish up this versatile veggie is in the form of French fries.

Of course, deep-frying those potato slices to golden crispness adds extra calories from the oil.  But what if you could indulge your French fry craving with fewer calories? And what if the technique to achieve that was more environmentally friendly than conventional fry preparation? Read more »

Nationwide Census on Farm to School Activities Shows Promising Results

USDA Census shows healthy habits are taking root across the country.

USDA Census shows healthy habits are taking root across the country.

When students have experiences such as tending a school garden or visiting a farm they’ll be more likely to make healthy choices in the cafeteria. And when schools invest their food dollars in their local communities, all of agriculture benefits, including local farmers, ranchers, fishermen, food processors and manufacturers.

Good news: these healthy habits are taking root all across the country.

USDA released today results from a nationwide Census of farm to school activities. We found that 43 percent of all public school districts have an existing farm to school program in place. Another 13 percent of school districts surveyed are committed to launching a farm to school program in the near future. With purchasing local food as a primary farm to school activity, in school year 2011-2012, schools purchased and served over $350 million in local food. Read more »