Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack talks to winners of the 1st International Soil Judging Contest during their visit to USDA on Aug. 18. American college students took the top two places in the first ever international competition.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hosted the world’s eight best soil judges last week after they earned the top spots at the 1st International Soil Judging Contest in Jeju, South Korea, in June. The Natural Resources Conservation Service Soil Science Division was actively involved in organizing the event and mentoring the winners. The first and second place teams, both from the U.S., along with their coaches, participated in a roundtable discussion with Secretary Vilsack and NRCS Chief Jason Weller to talk about soil judging, the importance of soil health, and careers in soil science. In addition, NRCS’ Landscape Architect, Bob Snieckus, led the students and coaches on a tour of USDA’s green projects, including the rooftop garden and The People’s Garden.
It was the first international soil judging contest, but soil judging in the United States dates back to at least 1960. The events involve the description, classification and interpretation of soil, with the main purpose of helping students recognize important soil and landscape properties and to consider these characteristics when deciding how to use soils. A contest involves “judgers,” or students interested in soil science, entering a soil pit to examine the profile. The judgers then determine where the different horizons are and describe each one, looking at factors such as soil type, color, depth, consistency, shape, structure and other features. The soil is classified, and site and soil interpretations are performed. Read more »
First Lady Wilma Pastrana Jiménez and others plant seeds in People’s Garden.
Puerto Rico’s First Lady is a big fan of the home garden, and actually, the garden at the governor’s mansion, called La Fortaleza, is part of USDA’s national garden movement.
First Lady Wilma Pastrana Jiménez’s garden was the first People’s Garden at a Puerto Rico state government facility and the third on the island.
The garden joins more than 2,000 across the nation as part of the People’s Garden Initiative, started in 2009 by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Read more »
National Farmers Market Week August 3-9 is a perfect time to make a trip to your local market. Share your favorite part of the farmers market experience by tagging your photos with #FarmMktWk @USDA.
Every time I explore a farmers market I become a kid again. It brings back memories of snacking on sun-ripened figs from my backyard with dad or squeezing for perfectly ripe tomatoes at the neighborhood farm stand with mom. The existence, uniqueness and vibrancy of farmers markets can be a positive experience full of exploration and deliciousness for any age. It sure is for me.
USDA is committed to helping all of America’s children, families and communities not only have access to healthy affordable food, but form positive associations with these healthy foods. Visiting a farmers market offers a unique learning environment where you can be introduced to fresh, local produce; a variety of sights, tastes and smells; as well as meet neighbors, farmers and vendors. Read more »
From left to right: Nevada NRCS employee Consuelo Navar, Supply Clerk, helps preschoolers from One World Children’s Academy plant seeds in the People’s Garden, along with a parent helper. Photo by One World Children’s Academy.
It’s never too early to start cultivating a “green thumb,” and a People’s Garden in Reno, Nev. is doing just that.
Employees of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) recently created a new People’s Garden at their office in partnership with One World Children’s Academy, a preschool across the street from the office.
NRCS and FSA employees dedicated the new garden, called “People’s Garden of the Truckee Meadows,” with the help of a class of four- and five-year-old preschoolers, planting bush beans and peas and building four scarecrows. Read more »
The volunteers worked four hours to get the 710 plants in the ground. NRCS photo.
What’s the buzz going on in Princeton, Ill.? A food fest for our pollinator friends, that’s what.
This is a People’s Garden designed specifically for pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. The idea came to Ellen Starr, area biologist with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, while walking her dog one day.
“Populations of many pollinators are in serious decline,” said Starr, a fan of pollinators. “So what better way to educate the public about the issue than create a garden?” Read more »
Pollinator Week Festival. June 20, 2014. 10 am – 2pm outside USDA headquarters.
How do pollinators affect your life? Well, if you’ve ever eaten a blueberry, chocolate bar or tomato, you can thank a pollinator. Pollinators are birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, small mammals, and most importantly, bees. They are responsible for pollinating one out of every three bites of food we eat. But these invaluable creatures are facing declines. That’s why USDA agencies, other federal departments and partners share knowledge and collaborate on efforts to help increase awareness and tackle challenges facing pollinators.
Last month, USDA launched a webcam that is literally buzzing with activity at the People’s Garden Apiary, located here on the roof of USDA headquarters in Washington, DC. Observing these social insects at #USDABeeWatch is fascinating and addicting. If you’ve been watching then you probably have a lot of questions about honey bee behavior and beekeeping. Meet our Beekeepers Nathan Rice and Andy Ulsamer virtually on Friday at Noon and ask them questions about what you’re seeing. Tweet to us @USDA and use #USDABeeWatch. Feel free to send your questions ahead of time, and we will respond to as many as possible during the chat. Read more »