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Taste Fall Flavors with “Simply Soup” at the USDA Farmers Market at Night on Friday, October 16th

USDA Farmers Market at Night Simply Soup poster

Join us for the last USDA Farmers Market at Night this Friday, October 16, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

There is nothing better than a warm bowl of soup in the fall. Our vendors are serving soups, stews, and chilis from all over the globe at the last USDA Farmers Market at Night this Friday, October 16, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  From spicy Lao rice vermicelli soup to a Scottish soup dish of chicken and leeks, vendors will be serving cozy soups filled with fall favorites like apples, butternut squash, and chile peppers.  With more than 15 different choices, you will be challenged to find a favorite! Read more »

Investing in Learning Resources for Homeschoolers

Students in the yearbook class coming together at the school’s new resource center in Marysville, Calif

Students in the yearbook class come together at the school’s new resource center in Marysville, Calif. The charter school offers a unique hybrid learning model combining homeschooling and traditional classroom learning for their 420 students.

More than one million children are homeschooled nationwide, and with that, over a million parents have committed huge amounts of time, money and patience into ensuring their children receive specialized one-on-one education. USDA Rural Development understands the challenges of homeschooling, and is an ally to the folks in rural America who choose this path.

In Marysville, California a unique charter school offers a special opportunity to homeschooled students: teachers and classrooms.  CORE @ the Camptonville Academy utilizes a Personalized Learning model which tailors one-on-one teaching with a focus on individual learning styles. Students who learn at home can come to the Academy for specialized classes and attention in subjects from math and science to 3D animation and robotics. Read more »

Wisconsin not only the “Dairy State” but also the “Cranberry State”

Ripe berries on the vine ready to be picked at Mayflower Cranberries in Plympton, Mass.

Ripe berries on the vine ready to be picked at Mayflower Cranberries in Plympton, Mass. Photo by Jeff LaFleur of Mayflower Cranberries used with permission.

Most have probably heard Wisconsin’s famous moniker “The America’s Dairyland.” This nickname is definitely befitting considering our long history with milk production. But, while our milk, cheeses, and other dairy products are available year-round, the fall season brings attention to a completely different commodity. I’m talking about cranberries.

Alongside pumpkins, apples, and pears, cranberries are a staple of American cuisine during the fall months. But did you know that most cranberries in the United States come from Wisconsin? Our growers produce 60 percent of the cranberries in the United States?  Last year alone, more than 5 million barrels of cranberries came from Wisconsin. One barrel weighs 100 pounds, which means our growers produced more than 250,000 tons of this amazing fruit. Read more »

Agua Gorda Co-op Provides Latino Farmers with Means to Acquire Land

Members of the Agua Gorda Cooperative growing organic produce

Members of the Agua Gorda Cooperative are growing organic produce for the Minneapolis market. Photo courtesy Latino Economic Development Center.

October is National Cooperative Month, and we’re happy to spotlight several projects throughout the month that have been supported through USDA Rural Development’s Cooperative Services. Jaime Villalaz, a business development specialist with the Latino Economic Development Center in Minneapolis, Minn., provided us with a glimpse into how USDA funds are being used to promote agriculture and cooperative development in the Latino community in Minnesota. 

In 2011, staff from the Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) in Minneapolis met with about 30 residents of Long Prairie, Minn., to discuss starting a farmer cooperative that would improve their income and promote economic development. After meetings throughout that winter, the cooperative became a legal entity in April 2012. The eight original members each contributed $250 to start the Agua Gorda Cooperative. Read more »

Top Chef’s Carla Hall Supports a Healthier Next Generation. See How!

Baked parmesan fish, butternut squash with black beans, honey lemon chicken… No, these aren’t items on a high-end restaurant menu.  They’re delicious dishes being offered in America’s school lunchrooms! This National School Lunch Week, we’re celebrating school meal programs around the country and renewed efforts to provide nutritious and appetizing meals featuring more fruits and vegetables and whole grains with less calories, sodium, and trans fats.  As a result of school nutrition professionals’ hard work, our kids’ meals are healthier than ever before.  And USDA research confirms that children who participate in the National School Lunch Program are more likely to consume fruits, vegetables, milk, and other important components of a healthy diet than their peers. Read more »

New Toolset Helps Identify Key Water Conservation Options

ARS soil scientist Mark D. Tomer and technician Sarah Porter reviewing a map showing results from a new toolset

Along Beaver Creek in central Iowa, ARS soil scientist Mark D. Tomer and technician Sarah Porter review a map showing results from a new toolset that analyzes conservation data from this watershed. Photo by Jim Ascough.

A free computer-based toolset developed by USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists was launched this month.  The toolset can help conservation planners, landowners and researchers better manage watershed runoff, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, while also supporting agricultural production.

Excess nutrients from watershed runoff—from sources that include farming—affect the ecological quality of aquatic environments. A watershed is an area of land from which all of the water that runs off its surface flows to the same location, typically a stream or river, but lakes and ponds also have watersheds. There are thousands of watersheds of varying sizes that cover the continental United States. Read more »