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

A Farmers Market Soars in Michigan

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Rural Development State Director for Michigan James J. Turner (center, in brown suit) breaking ground for the Mt. Pleasant Native Farmers Market with Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribal leaders and local residents

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Rural Development State Director for Michigan James J. Turner (center, in brown suit) breaks ground for the Mt. Pleasant Native Farmers Market with Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribal leaders and local residents.

The Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Nation sits in rural Central Michigan about 90 minutes northwest of Flint. One of the newest business enterprises to open on Reservation is the Native Farmers Market.  I was there for the groundbreaking with Tribal Chief Steve Pego, and other tribal members to represent USDA’s investment in this exciting project. USDA Rural Development provided a $200,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant to build the farmers market pavilion and supporting parking lot.

As we took shovel to ground, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Chief Steve Pego recalled how the typical local diet consisted largely of home-grown foods and game from hunting when he was a kid. He lamented how packaged foods and other items have since taken their place. His vision is that the Native Farmers Market will reconnect tribal members with their traditional foods and increase access to healthy food options for the community. Read more »

Families Achieve the Dream of Homeownership Working Together

USDA RD officials and Little Dixie Community Action Agency celebrated HOM with new homeowner, Caysa Mejia and family, in St. Charles Parish and presented a flag to the new home owner

USDA RD officials and Little Dixie Community Action Agency celebrated HOM with new homeowner, Caysa Mejia and family, in St. Charles Parish and presented a flag to the new home owner. From left to right: John Audibert, USDA RD Housing Specialist, Randy Griffith, Little Dixie Community Action Agency Self-Help Specialist, Joyce Allen, USDA RD Single Family Housing Deputy Administrator, new home owner, Caysa Mejia and her two daughters, Kelita Pete, Executive Director, Family Resources of New Orleans, and USDA RD Louisiana State Director Clarence W. Hawkins

Allie Lane was full of excitement and activity. On this short street in the small town of Luling in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana, I was proud to celebrate National Homeownership Month by breaking ground for a new home.

I humbly watched as Jacqueline Campbell, Kimberly Dunn, and Paulette Alexander eagerly picked out shovels to participate in the symbolic dirt toss at the site cleared for construction of the next Self-Help home on Allie Lane. They are all currently renting and ready to roll up their sleeves and go to work to build a better future together for their families. Read more »

A Case Study in Wellness at PS 145 – Supporting Schools and Supporting Nutrition Standards

WITS Chef Katie Cook and Chef Partner Henry Rinehart celebrating a WITS Cafe Day (special culinary demo and tasting days) with their students at PS145/West Prep Academy

WITS Chef Katie Cook and Chef Partner Henry Rinehart celebrate a WITS Cafe Day (special culinary demo and tasting days) with their students at PS145/West Prep Academy.

The following guest blog, part of our Cafeteria Stories series, highlights the work of Wellness in the Schools, a non-profit organization working on school nutrition in New York City.  Organizations such as this can be a great resource for teachers and students in creating healthier school environments.

By Chef Greg Silverman, Managing Director, Wellness in the Schools

This year, as school came to a close, the kids at PS145/West Prep Academy in Manhattan’s Morningside Heights neighborhood were feeling healthier, more fit, and more focused, thanks to two programs offered through Wellness in the Schools (WITS), a non-profit organization dedicated to making public schools healthier places to learn and grow. The programs are through WITS Cook for Kids and Coach for Kids programs, chefs and coaches support school wellness by providing staff training in the cafeteria and recess yard, and helping schools to transition to healthier meals and more active play times. Read more »

Nothing Fishy about Probiotics

Researchers Dr. Kenneth Cain, University of Idaho, and Dr. Douglas Call, Washington State University with fish in a net

Researchers Dr. Kenneth Cain, University of Idaho, and Dr. Douglas Call, Washington State University, have developed a probiotic that fights Coldwater Disease in trout and salmon. They found the probiotic bacteria in the fish’s own gut. (Photo by Shelly Hanks, Washington State University)

After searching 15 years for a way to combat a devastating disease among salmonids (salmon and trout), researchers at Washington State University (WSU) and the University of Idaho (UI) found an answer inside the fish itself.

Dr. Kenneth Cain’s team at UI’s Aquaculture Research Institute cultured a bacteria from the fish’s gut (designated Enterobacter C6-6) and found that it inhibited the growth of Flavobacterium psychrophilum, the organism that causes Coldwater Disease.

Cain and Dr. Douglas Call, his WSU-based research partner since 2001, found that by adding C6-6 to fish feed as a probiotic they could limit the damage caused by Coldwater Disease – but they’re not quite sure why.  “We know that C6-6 produces a toxin,” Call said.  “This toxin kills the bacteria although we’re trying to get more funding to figure out how this works in the fish itself.” Read more »

Survey: Lesser Prairie-Chicken Population Continues to Climb

A lesser prairie-chicken

A recent survey commissioned by WAFWA shows lesser prairie-chicken numbers climbed 25 percent between 2014 and 2015. NRCS photo.

The population of the lesser prairie-chicken is on the rise, according to survey results released last week by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA). Based on aerial surveys, biologists estimate the lesser prairie-chicken numbers about 29,000, a 25 percent increase from 2014.

WAFWA commissioned the annual survey, which showed increases in three of the four ecoregions the bird inhabits. The sand sage prairie region of southeastern Colorado showed the biggest gain with about a 75 percent increase between 2014 and 2015. Read more »

Fun in the Sun – #USDARoadTrip Through Conservation and Recreation

United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite (SMAP). Photo by NASA’s Kim Shiflett.

United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with NASA's Soil Moisture Active Passive satellite (SMAP), a remote sensing mission designed to measure and map the Earth's soil moisture distribution and freeze/thaw stat with unprecedented accuracy, resolution and coverage. Photo by NASA’s Kim Shiflett.

The second stop on our #USDARoadTrip is our recreation and conservation portfolio, including our vast and spectacular forest and grassland system managed by USDA’s Forest Service as well as some of the cooperative conservation efforts underway by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA). 

With Independence Day fireworks behind us for 2015, USDA gives you another reason to look up into the night sky. With a new satellite, NASA and USDA have partnered to map Earth’s soil moisture from orbit, letting us monitor droughts, predict floods and forecast the water supply in major cities. Read more »