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A Unique Urban Garden in the Heart of Atlanta

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Wheat Street Gardens, a unique urban garden, located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, Ga., not far from the famous civil rights historical Ebenezer and Wheat Street churches.  The garden was once a housing project that was demolished and many of the former residences’ families still come to the garden telling stories of where their parents used to live and reliving the memories as they purchase fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the garden.  The old housing project land, owned by the Wheat Street Church, was donated for the garden.

Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (TLW), which is a 501(C)(3) Non-Profit, runs the garden, which produces organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs, grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. The garden is also a farmers market selling as a direct farmer to the community and welcomes customers who spend Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Read more »

Regional Planning – Key to Rural Economic Strength

Both of us grew up in small towns, Kathleen in Greenfield, MA and Bob in Ancram, NY.  From our own experiences, we understand the challenges and the importance of a strong rural economy.

We recently visited Brevard, a town of about 6,000 people in North Carolina’s Transylvania County.  While there we held a White House Rural Council meeting at the Transylvania County Library with leadership from the Land-of-Sky Regional Council, the regional economic development commission AdvantageWest, business leaders from Asheville and Brevard, and several local elected officials.  We released a report from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities, at Brevard College, which focuses on how the federal government can help rural areas to be economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable. Read more »

From School Garden to Lunch Tray: Veggies Star in West Salem, Wisconsin

West Salem kindergarteners enjoy tacos, refried beans, Garden Bar, and grapes.

West Salem kindergarteners enjoy tacos, refried beans, Garden Bar, and grapes. (Photo courtesy of Sara Jeranek)

When it comes to local foods, it doesn’t get much fresher than vegetables direct from a school garden. In West Salem, Wisconsin, students are not only growing their own vegetables; they’re eating them – with enthusiasm — in their school lunches. Even more, they’re having fun planting, digging, and harvesting, while learning sustainable growing practices. Read more »

US Forest Service Research Geographer Gets to the Heart of Why People Forage

Marla Emery works in the agency’s Research and Development’s People and Their Environments unit in Burlington, Vt.

Marla Emery works in the agency’s Research and Development’s People and Their Environments unit in Burlington, Vt.

Marla Emery looks at plantain – an ordinary weed to most people – with an eye on how some people will use it. After all, her work with the U.S. Forest Service as a research geographer leads her to interesting conversations with people who forage in rural and urban forests. Read more »

‘Move Your Body’ Keeps Students Moving at Job Corps Center in North Carolina

Students at the Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Cherokee practice their choreography for a new student-produced fitness video. (Photo courtesy of Holly Krake/OJCCCC)

Students at the Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Cherokee practice their choreography for a new student-produced fitness video. (Photo courtesy of Holly Krake/OJCCCC)

Pop music star Beyonce recently partnered with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to create the Let’s Move! Flash Workout.  The Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Cherokee, N.C. has embraced the Let’s Move! concept, and launched a Healthy Eating and Active Lifestyles program. Oconaluftee has gotten behind this national movement by producing a student fitness video using the music and choreography of the Let’s Move! Flash Workout.  Read more »

Serving an American Thanksgiving Feast – in Taiwan

(From left to right) Daisy Hong of Ocean Spray, Chef C.K. Chen of Taipei’s Sherwood Hotel, Valerie Brown of USDA’s Agricultural Trade Office in Taipei, and Joyce Hong, who hosts the China TV program “King of the Happy Life,” showcase American Thanksgiving favorites on an episode of the popular TV show, which airs in Taiwan this week. Photo by A. Jay, Chun-Li Integrated Marketing and Communications Co., Ltd

(From left to right) Daisy Hong of Ocean Spray, Chef C.K. Chen of Taipei’s Sherwood Hotel, Valerie Brown of USDA’s Agricultural Trade Office in Taipei, and Joyce Hong, who hosts the China TV program “King of the Happy Life,” showcase American Thanksgiving favorites on an episode of the popular TV show, which airs in Taiwan this week. Photo by A. Jay, Chun-Li Integrated Marketing and Communications Co., Ltd

Thanks to Foreign Agricultural Service employees serving at USDA’s 98 international posts, American Thanksgiving traditions – and food – are being enjoyed around the world this November. Read more »