Timber Pizza’s success at USDA Farmers Market helped fuel its expansion. (USDA photo by Richard Tyner)
The USDA Farmers Market, next to the Department’s headquarters and steps from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., is a “living laboratory” for identifying and testing strategies to help support local and regional food systems.
To mark the 20th anniversary of the market, my colleagues and I at USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), which manages the weekly Friday market, tried a few new approaches during the 2015 season. Our goals were to make the market more successful for vendors and more enticing to visitors.
For example, we opened the market a month early–in May instead of in June. We also redesigned the layout of the market, allowing us to more than double the number of vendors from 14 to 32. Read more »
Kishenehn fossil mosquitoes are among the best preserved Eocene insects in the world. Scale bar is 2 mm. (Photo credit: D. Greenwalt & C. Labandeira, Smithsonian Institution.)
An intrepid fossil hunter on the U.S. Forest Service’s Flathead National Forest in northwest Montana doesn’t need to dig too deep to find exquisitely preserved fossil insects with traces of their original stomach contents. Amazing as this sounds you just need to visit rock outcrops of the Kishenehn Formation exposed on the banks of the Flathead River.
There, researchers affiliated with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History have discovered a treasure trove of tiny, 46-million year old fossil insects from the Eocene Epoch, which were deposited in sediments of an ancient lake early during the Age of Mammals. The preserved insects—over 7,000 specimens have been collected over the last several years—include fossil mosquitos. At least one specimen preserves an abdomen still engorged from its last meal. Read more »
Farmers and producers debunk common myths around organic certification in a new Sound & Sensible video resource.
Last month, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program (NOP) announced new resources resulting from our Sound and Sensible Initiative, which is making organic certification more accessible, affordable, and attainable. Today, we are introducing more guides, videos, and other tools – all produced by our partners in the organic community. These resources help farms and businesses understand the USDA organic standards, certification process, and inspections in more depth. Read more »
Cows graze on a farm in Upper Marlboro, MD.
“Who better to share the benefits of intensive rotational grazing than farmers who are actually doing it on their lands?” asked Beth L. McGee, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Senior Regional Water Quality Scientist.
Intensive grazing systems, a type of rotational grazing that uses higher per acre stocking rates in smaller grazing or pasture units, can provide multiple benefits for farmers and the environment. These systems can help maintain and enhance farm profitability while reducing labor and input costs. Compared to more traditional confinement operations, intensive grazing can result in improved soil health, an increase in sequestered carbon and decreased emissions of other greenhouse gases. Read more »
Breonna Walker from Englehard Elementary School in Louisville, KY enjoys a nutritious and delicious school lunch. Photo courtesy Jefferson County Public Schools
The following guest blog from a school and community nutrition services director in Louisville, Kentucky highlights how non-profit School Food FOCUS relies on USDA’s Process Verified Program (PVP) to help increase transparency and choice for school food purchases. USDA’s objective, third-party auditing services focus on increasing transparency from farm to market by offering verification based on clearly defined, implemented, and transparent process points.
By Julia Bauscher, Director of School and Community Nutrition Services, Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, Kentucky
The first time School Food FOCUS brought together a group of school food directors like myself to talk about how we could improve the quality of chicken—the number one protein we serve to students—I was thrilled and a little daunted.
Schools across the country spend nearly $1 billion on chicken every year. That’s a lot of buying power. School Food FOCUS challenged us to think about the changes we can make to our food system if districts leveraged this buying power to create a demand for chicken that is better on the plate and for the environment. Read more »
Nosa Akol, CITIZEN U teen leader in Binghamton, New York, won the 4-H 2015 Youth in Action Award as an exceptional youth who embodies the life-changing impact of 4-H. (Photo courtesy of the National 4-H Council)
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.
In Binghamton, New York, at-risk youth are learning to take charge of their lives by working on a variety of community improvement projects that they design and carry out.
“CITIZEN U stands for Citizen You and Citizen University,” said Dr. June Mead, director of New York’s Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) program. “(It’s) a metaphor for creating a university environment in which teens are empowered to become community change agents and graduate from high school prepared for college, careers, and citizenship. Through their involvement, teen leaders gain knowledge and real-world application of civic engagement.” Read more »