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A Green Menace Threatens a Mohawk Community

APHIS plant health specialists investigate for Emerald Ash Borer. Examples of traditional basketry created by the Mohawk community from ash trees.

APHIS plant health specialists investigate for Emerald Ash Borer.

For centuries, the Mohawk community of the Akwesasne (pronounced AHG – weh – SAUCE – knee) have created traditional basketry from the abundance of ash trees found along the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Thousand Islands area in New York.

But for the last three years, the trees and the matchless creativity of the Akwesasne have been threatened by a particularly harmful insect called the Emerald Ash Borer. Read more »

Year-End Statistics Critical to Farm Disaster and Insurance Programs for Producers

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research profile.

At the end of the year, some producers may be feeling survey fatigue from responding to numerous requests from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) for data about their farm operations.  All of the survey responses received during the year are important, as the resulting statistics serve farmers directly in many ways.  NASS’s end-of year surveys, for example, are critical for USDA to administer farm disaster and insurance programs, which are as important as ever with recent extreme weather conditions. And this is a great asset for farmers who can in turn use this information to make sound decisions for their businesses. Read more »

New Jersey School Gardens Offer More Than Just Produce

New Jersey Farm to School Network and Edible Jersey Magazine recently awarded their inaugural School Garden of the Year Award to three projects for innovative efforts to connect their school gardens to the cafeteria, curriculum, and community.  How fitting that schools in the Garden State are host to a number of exemplary school gardens!

Students at Lawrenceville Elementary School in Lawrenceville, NJ cultivate their school garden from planting to harvest!

Students at Lawrenceville Elementary School in Lawrenceville, NJ cultivate their school garden from planting to harvest!

Read more »

Nevada Stronger Economies Together Team Spirit of Engagements Shows in Economic Blueprint

Nevada’s Stronger Economies Together (SET) Regional Team members met one last time Nov. 28 in Fallon, Nevada, to unveil the “Western Nevada Blueprint for Economic Development,”  a plan that set goals to develop five targeted economic sectors for a 33,000-square mile region of Nevada across nine counties, involving more than 200 people.

The 75 people who met in good cheer that morning at the beautiful old Oats Park Art Center, had a lot to celebrate.  They knew their region’s assets, they understood the barriers to growth, and they were starting to understand how working collaboratively benefits them all. Read more »

Energy Advisor Says a Host of Factors Affect Food Prices

Rob Green’s recent Wall Street Journal op-ed “The cause of higher grocery bills isn’t the drought. It’s the failed federal ethanol policy” fails to take into consideration a host of factors, other than demand for corn, that affect food prices.

In the domestic and global markets commodity, labor, transportation, energy costs, processing, and marketing costs all contribute to what we pay for food in our local grocery store or restaurant. In some cases, factors such as higher oil prices affect one or more of these underlying costs producing higher domestic and world food prices. Read more »

Native American Heritage Month is an Opportunity for Learning and Sharing

Earlier this month, I submitted a blog discussing plans to observe Native American Heritage Month in South Dakota. USDA Rural Development South Dakota staff held a Native American interactive day on November 28, which included traditional teachings, significance of the circle, meal, a game of “all my relations” and Native Pictionary.  Today marks the final day of Native American Heritage Month, 2012.

Native American Heritage month is an opportunity for learning and sharing of Native American culture.  USDA staff were educated on the symbolism of the circle and its relevance to the Native American people with Rural Housing Specialist Ken Lynch reading a quote from Black Elk Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux; USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks provided comments in support of this event and traditional foods included smoked white fish, salmon, herring, and fish spread.  The hand smoking with native hardwoods brings out the delicate flavor of these fish.  Chicken, a wild rice dish, and squash was provided by Rural Housing Technician Hetti Cekalla and her husband Leroy.  Also served were Indian fried bread, vegetables, dessert and drinks. Read more »