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Bringing Federal Partners to the Local Foods Table

Three years ago this fall, Secretary Vilsack and I launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative (KYF2).  Since then, we’ve seen interest and participation in local and regional food systems grow beyond anything we expected: whether I’m meeting with buffalo ranchers from the Great Plains or with members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I hear about efforts to connect producers and consumers locally and interest in how USDA can help.

In meetings of the White House Rural Council, which has representatives from across the federal government, regional food systems have been a key part of discussions. Read more »

2012 Census of Agriculture Provides Producers Thanks and Hope this Holiday

Nearing the end of cranberry harvest in New Jersey, one week prior to Hurricane Sandy.

Nearing the end of cranberry harvest in New Jersey, one week prior to Hurricane Sandy.

As our nation’s farm families gather this Thanksgiving to count their many blessings and reflect on this year’s harvest, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) urges producers to ensure their farm or ranch is also counted in the 2012 Census of Agriculture. The Census is a crucial tool that provides farmers with a voice in the future of their community and operation. Read more »

Giving Thanks for Research

The Beltsville Small White turkey, developed by USDA scientists in the 1930s, met the American homemaker’s needs and secured turkey’s starring role on holiday tables

The Beltsville Small White turkey, developed by USDA scientists in the 1930s, met the American homemaker’s needs and secured turkey’s starring role on holiday tables

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 portfolio.

When you sit down to your Thanksgiving feast and reflect on the bounty on your table, you might want to say a quiet “thank you” to the agricultural researchers who have made your holiday favorites so plentiful and so good for you, too.

Let’s start with the Thanksgiving star: the turkey.  This Native American bird was rapidly slipping in popularity in the 1930s because smaller family size and smaller iceboxes meant there were too many unwieldy leftovers from the big birds. Read more »

Water Quality Is a Top Priority at Four Star Dairy

Roger Erickson takes pride in the success of his dairy operation and its efforts to ensure good water quality.

Roger Erickson takes pride in the success of his dairy operation and its efforts to ensure good water quality.

The Four Star Dairy is a family affair. Roger Erickson grew up on this Clark County, Wis. farm, which his grandfather started and now he and his family work together to manage the conservation-minded, 14-employee operation, 700 cows, as well as corn, soybean, oat and hay production. Read more »

2012 People’s Garden Fall Webinar Series: Ingredients for a Healthy Garden

The feedback about last year’s webinar series was overwhelmingly positive! That’s why USDA’s People’s Garden Initiative is bringing it back.

We’re asked all the time for a specific recipe for starting and sustaining a People’s Garden. And each of this year’s webinars focus on ingredients that can be mixed into any garden project to make it healthier: processing and storing seeds, engaging volunteers, growing native plants, composting, and school garden best practices.

The series of five hour-long trainings will broadcast live on Thurs. Nov. 29, Dec. 6 and Dec. 13 and Wed. Dec. 5 and Dec. 12 from 12 noon to 1 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. They are free for anyone to watch live online. Register at http://www.ksre.k-state.edu/2012webinars/ to participate. Read more »

A Thanksgiving Treat–Local Foods for Schools in a Minnesota Community

Bonnie Chirstenson from University of Minnesota Extension (far right) shows students in Mrs. Jones’ sixth-grade class in Tracy Elementary how to make pumpkin pudding using a locally grown pumpkin.

Bonnie Chirstenson from University of Minnesota Extension (far right) shows students in Mrs. Jones’ sixth-grade class in Tracy Elementary how to make pumpkin pudding using a locally grown pumpkin.

On a fall morning in Mrs. Jones’ sixth-grade class in Tracy, Minn., students are learning how to make pumpkin pudding.

Instead of using a can opener to pry the lid off cans of pumpkin, a real pumpkin is being used. And not just any real pumpkin, a pumpkin that came straight from a local garden and into the classroom.

The classroom isn’t the only place in Tracy Elementary where local foods are becoming more prevalent. The lunchroom also features more foods grown by local producers and served in school lunches. Read more »