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USDA and Land grant Universities Engage Communities through Gardening at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The People’s Garden exhibit at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in the Reinventing Agriculture area of Campus and Community. The People’s Garden exhibit at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in the Reinventing Agriculture area of Campus and Community.

The People’s Garden exhibit at the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival in the Reinventing Agriculture area of Campus and Community.

Wednesday was opening day of the 2012 Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall.  The Festival features three great themes.  One of the themes entitled “Campus and Community” is a program that commemorates the 150th Anniversary of the founding of Land grant universities and the USDA. The People’s Garden Initiative is thrilled to have an exhibition in the Reinventing Agriculture area of Campus and Community. Please stop by to see it and talk gardening with USDA’s Executive Master Gardeners! Like us, universities from across the country are demonstrating how they engage communities through gardening. The Festival runs June 27 to July 1 and July 4-8 from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: National Homeownership Month

June is National Homeownership Month, and at the U.S. Department of Agriculture we’ve spent the past few weeks highlighting the role housing plays in our small towns and rural communities.

With 50 million Americans living in rural America, access to quality, safe housing is an important factor to a high quality of life – and as homeownership in a community increases, there are also significant economic benefits.

By some estimates, the sale of an existing median-price home creates nearly $60,000 in economic activity; and that’s not including the extra job-creating potential of a newly-built home.   Read more »

NRCS Gets on the “Goodfoot” with Organic Practices

Beth Hoinacki shows an aspect of her crop rotation and cover crop plan.

U.S. trends in organic farming point to a growing industry. USDA agencies like the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) support organic growers by offering funding and technical guidance—both to farmers already growing organic crops, and to those who want to transition to organic production. Read more »

USDA Officials Participate in African American Policy Forum in Mississippi

Mississippi Congressman Bennie G. Thompson moderates An America Built to Last: Jobs and Business Creation.

On Wednesday, June 13, the White House, in conjunction with Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services hosted an African American Regional Policy Forum at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi. This forum is part of an ongoing series of regional discussions held in communities nationwide. Each forum is intended to connect Administration Officials from a wide range of policy areas with African American civic, elected, and faith leaders to discuss issues critical to the African American community and the nation. Read more »

Organic 101: Role of the National Organic Standards Board

This is the sixth installment of the Organic 101 series that explores different aspects of the USDA organic regulations.

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is made up of dedicated public volunteers appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. It advises the National Organic Program (NOP), a part of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), on what substances should be allowed or prohibited in organic agriculture and recommends standards, policies, or guidance to help shape the organic regulations and the organic certification process.  Read more »

Extending the Season, Expanding Variety and Growing Locally

healthy plants growing in abundance under the protection of a high tunnel.

I remember when I first moved to Alaska, the only vegetable I ate was potatoes. Fruits and veggies were expensive and weren’t even fresh! Up here, produce is shipped or flown up from the lower 48, and by the time it gets to off-road communities it can be nearly rotten. Plus, the nutritional value of produce declines each day after picking. But now, the last frontier is seeing a paradigm shift in favor of flavor: high tunnels. Read more »