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

Reclaiming Spaces: One Farmers Market at a Time

The Ferry Building dominated the busy port as a main boat terminus. As cars and highways became more popular, the terminal went into disrepair. Now, farmers and vendors have revived the space, making the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market one of California’s most famous farmers markets. Photo courtesy of Jim Forest.

The Ferry Building dominated the busy port as a main boat terminus. As cars and highways became more popular, the terminal went into disrepair. Now, farmers and vendors have revived the space, making the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market one of California’s most famous farmers markets. Photo courtesy of Jim Forest.

At the DeKalb Market in Brooklyn, N.Y., the farmers market is nestled among other vendors including artists, craftsmen, and chefs all housed within colorful shipping containers.  Repurposed shipping containers are housing farmers markets on undeveloped lots in, Boston and Raleigh as well. Photo courtesy of Leonel Lima Ponce

At the DeKalb Market in Brooklyn, N.Y., the farmers market is nestled among other vendors including artists, craftsmen, and chefs all housed within colorful shipping containers. Repurposed shipping containers are housing farmers markets on undeveloped lots in, Boston and Raleigh as well. Photo courtesy of Leonel Lima Ponce

Consumer demand for local food is driving the expansion of farmers markets into places of all shapes, sizes, and locations. Ferry terminals, train depots, grain mills and shipping containers all can, and are, housing farmers markets across the country.  There are 8,268 markets listed in the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, a 76 percent increase since 2008.  Managed by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, the directory listings reflect continued growth and demand in every region of the country. Today farmers markets are as diverse as the communities they serve and can be found in unique rural and urban spaces across the country.

Built in 1903, the Southern Railways Station in Knoxville, Tenn., was a symbol of America’s great railroad heritage. The terminal is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its late 19th century architecture and its prominent role in Tennessee railroad industry.  Today, the main building has been repurposed into office spaces and a banquet hall that hosts a winter farmers market.  Last winter, the depot hosted its first market, offering 30 vendors an opportunity to extend their season and continue the tradition of celebrating Knoxville’s heritage. Read more »

Learning All Summer Long with WINS Interns at USDA

Washington Internships for Native Students (WINS) interns with USDA Under Secretary Avalos at the closing ceremony at American University in Washington, DC.

Washington Internships for Native Students (WINS) interns with USDA Under Secretary Avalos at the closing ceremony at American University in Washington, DC.

With over 3 million students graduating college during the 2013-2014 school year, what sets you apart from your peers? The answer: internships.

 Internships provide an immeasurable benefit to both the intern and to organizations like USDA.  In addition to gaining valuable work experience, internships are a great way to network, apply classroom knowledge to real-life, on-the-job situations, and gain confidence. Read more »

USDA Reaches Out to Farmers with Sweet Conservation Incentives

Pineapples are an iconic crop in Puerto Rico, and they’re emerging again as a popular farming enterprise on the island.

Pineapples are an iconic crop in Puerto Rico, and they’re emerging again as a popular farming enterprise on the island.

NRCS staff members visit with Puerto Rico pineapple farmers in Lajas, Puerto Rico.

NRCS staff members visit with Puerto Rico pineapple farmers in Lajas, Puerto Rico.

Pineapples are emerging again as a popular farming enterprise in Puerto Rico because of a new variety that packs more sweetness and boasts stronger harvests. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is working with pineapple farmers to prevent erosion, improve soil health and keep water clean downstream by encouraging them to use conservation practices.

The new variety is the golden pineapple, or Ananas Commosus vra MD2, which produces so much more fruit than the traditional Cabezona pineapple that farm acreage planted in pineapples on the island has doubled from 250 acres in 2011 to 500 acres this year.  Read more »

USDA Partners with Community, Farmers Market in Eastern Kentucky: To Feed Kids and Help Farmers

Staff of the Letcher County Farmers Market and Kentucky Department of Education proudly highlight the kitchen that serves meals to children in Whitesburg as part of the USDA Summer Food Service Program.

Staff of the Letcher County Farmers Market and Kentucky Department of Education proudly highlight the kitchen that serves meals to children in Whitesburg as part of the USDA Summer Food Service Program.

This week marks the 15th annual National Farmers Market Week and USDA is celebrating the achievements of the more than 8,700 markets across the county. In rural eastern Kentucky, over the summer, a remarkable thing happened in the small community of Whitesburg. Local, state and federal officials all worked together to create the first-ever USDA “Summer Feeding Site” for children to be held at a local farmers market in Kentucky.

The Summer Feeding Site project that was launched in Whitesburg is part of USDA’s Summer Food Service Program that provides free meals to children from low-income households. Over the summer break, many of these kids and teens are in danger of not eating properly or going hungry because they don’t have access to school meals. Read more »

Participants in Open Data Roundtables Guide USDA on Ways to Provide High Quality Data to Users

“Find out who your audience and users are, then figure out the best, easiest way to provide data to them.”

Last week, the Obama Administration focused on a specific climate risk – the risk to the food supply – and the ways data could be used to help increase “food resilience.” The goal is to make data, computational power, and analytic tools available to help food producers, distributors, and inspectors keep the food supply reliable and robust.

As part of that effort, last Friday the GovLab and the USDA co-hosted an Open Data Roundtable on food resilience to bring together government officials, companies, and nonprofits to improve the use of data on climate and agriculture. Like the Roundtable we hosted with the White House and the Department of Commerce in June, this event was designed to promote a dialogue between government agencies that supply data and the companies and organizations that use it. The ultimate goal of all our Roundtables is to make open government data more relevant, accessible, and actionable. Read more »

Passion for the Future of Agriculture

If I could use one word to describe the farmers and ranchers I have met during my time as Deputy Secretary it would be passionate. Last week, it was my great pleasure to join the White House in honoring 17 extraordinary new and beginning farmers who represent the future of agriculture—and let me say, that future is incredibly bright. As our world population continues to grow, it is expected that there will be over 9 billion people to feed by 2050. With this population growth also comes a growing need for new farmers to take on the challenge of feeding the world.

The White House Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses, and organizations doing innovative things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The most recent Champions of Change program featured individuals who are dedicated to the future of American agriculture. These individuals are doing extraordinary things to build the bench for the next generation of farming and ranching.  These champions are leading in their industries and communities, inspiring others who want to find careers and a life on the land. Read more »