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USDA and Hawai’i public charter school partner for local, traditional foods

With the help of a Community Facilities loan from USDA Rural Development, Kona Pacific Charter School will construct new classroom buildings and develop a traditional field system.

On the southwest coast of the big island of Hawai‘i, USDA is partnering with Kona Pacific Public Charter School on a project to restore eight acres of land to the ancient Kona Field System of agriculture and then use traditional cultivation techniques to produce traditional foods for students and the community. Read more »

D.C. Chef Helps Cultivate Good Nutrition Through Partnership with GreenSchools!, U.S. Forest Service

Forest Service and American Forest Foundation officials help students plant a garden at Barnard Elementary School in Washington, DC.

Mark Haskell has perfected the school garden recipe: a green thumb, a passion for home-grown food, culinary expertise and partnerships with GreenSchools! and the U.S. Forest Service to whip up the excitement of urban school children connecting their garden to the food they eat. Read more »

Ohioans See Giganteus Future

Miscanthus giganteus was a tall, bothersome grass a few years back, a good privacy plant, but to some, just a weed.  It could grow about anywhere, reaching heights of 12-15 feet, and do it perennially for 20 years or more.

Some say Miscanthus giganteus had a bad reputation, but it doesn’t bother Terry Lowe anymore.  He’s hoping to turn it into renewable energy while it grows on 31 acres of his 66-acre farm in Ashtabula County, Ohio. Read more »

Faith in Place recently secured a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant to operate winter farmers markets.

Faith in Place recently secured a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant to operate winter farmers markets.

For 18 years, Tony Ends of Scotch Hill Farm worked hard to develop direct marketing opportunities for his family’s crops and products. For over six of those years, he advocated for other small farms in winter markets that he organized with Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa churches. Trends in farming and the recent recession, which spurred a decline in attendance at some markets, have taken a negative toll on some farm families in the upper Midwest, but Tony hasn’t lost faith. Read more »

USDA Visits Farmers Who are Bringing Locally Grown and Milled Flour back to an Oregon Community

There are only a few tables at Randy’s Main Street café, but this is where the small community of Brownsville, Oregon, gathers to sort out the world’s problems and, sometimes, hatch some pretty big ideas.

Willow Coberly and Harry Stalford, the owners and operators of Stalford Seed Farms, have had many conversations around these tables as they were developing ways to grow, mill, sell and distribute local wheat, even when everyone told them they’d never make it work in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. This is also where last week USDA’s Director for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Max Finberg and USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker joined Willow and Harry to hear about the steps – and risks – they took to bring wheat back into the local food system.  Joining them were organic farming pioneer and co-founder of Oregon Tilth, Harry MacCormack of Sunbow Farm; Pam Silbernagel, a regional economic development specialist with Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments; and Dan Sundseth of Ten Rivers Food Web, a nonprofit organization that works with three Oregon counties to increase locally grown food to help build resilient food systems within their communities. Read more »

Small Business Owners Urged to Attend DC Event to Learn How to do Business with USDA

USDA’s continued commitment to broadening small business access to contract opportunities stimulates small business ownership and economic growth, creates jobs, and results in improving the quality of life across America.

USDA currently awards over 52 percent of all contract dollars to small businesses throughout the country in support of its various missions. If you’re a small business owner, we encourage you to attend and participate in the USDA Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) Procurement Conference.  This year it will be held on April 19, here in Washington, DC.     Read more »