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#AskUSDA: A Conversation Between Gardeners

USDA Executive Master Gardener Dora Flores (IT & eGov Team for USDA-AMS) poses proudly with the HQ People's Garden weekly harvest, which she helped grow and pick.

USDA Executive Master Gardener Dora Flores (IT & eGov Team for USDA-AMS) poses proudly with the HQ People's Garden weekly harvest, which she helped grow and pick.

The arrival of fall doesn’t mean that garden season is over. In fact, the People’s Garden Initiative wants to keep the conversation growing! Throughout the growing season, People’s Garden staff and Executive Master Gardener volunteers at USDA Headquarters are asked hundreds of questions on the why, how, when and what of gardening. You too may be digging for answers on ways to turn your thumb a healthier shade of green. Read more »

Kids and Kids at Heart Can Enjoy Making and Sharing a Digital Leaf Press

Here’s a leaf you may find on your adventure. This beautiful collection of leaves on the branch of a blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica) shows how the red coloration is revealed as the sugars of the green chlorophyll is absorbed into the tree as it prepares for the cold of winter. Photo courtesy: Larry Stritch

Here’s a leaf you may find on your adventure. This beautiful collection of leaves on the branch of a blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica) shows how the red coloration is revealed as the sugars of the green chlorophyll is absorbed into the tree as it prepares for the cold of winter. Photo courtesy: Larry Stritch

This time of year brings back fond childhood memories. Fall’s increasing chill and leaf-covered ground take me back to elementary school, where nature and the changing seasons served as learning material. A favorite lesson I learned was how to create a book of pressed leaves. Read more »

Secretary’s Column: Strengthening Homegrown Energy

As the drought continues today, USDA and other Federal agencies are doing all we can to help farmers, ranchers and communities who have been impacted.

Unfortunately, our tools are limited. Due to inaction by Congress, many parts of the 2008 Farm Bill expired October 1, and other aspects of the law will expire in the coming months.

This brings tremendous uncertainty for rural families – particularly livestock producers who have lost access to disaster programs, and dairy producers who no longer have access to dairy support programs.

The lack of a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill also limits USDA from continuing our record investments in homegrown American energy.  Since 2009 USDA has worked hard to ensure that rural America plays a key role in our nation’s energy strategy. Read more »

FSIS Adds a Dash of Food Safety to Taste of DC

Agriculture’s mobile Discovery Zone is a hands-on vehicle that travels the nation educating children and parents about the four main principals of home food safety – clean, separate, cook and chill, at the Taste of D.C., event that highlights more than 70 eateries, 30 specialty beer providers, the United Service Organization (USO) Metropolitan Washington, and live bands

Agriculture’s mobile Discovery Zone is a hands-on vehicle that travels the nation educating children and parents about the four main principals of home food safety – clean, separate, cook and chill, at the Taste of D.C., event that highlights more than 70 eateries, 30 specialty beer providers, the United Service Organization (USO) Metropolitan Washington, and live bands

Washington, D.C.’s premier ‘foodie’ extravaganza, the 2nd annual Taste of DC, brought warm deliciousness to the heart of the capital during the Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 6-8. Thirty restaurants gathered along Pennsylvania Avenue with food samples, music and entertainment for people of the National Capital Region. Thanks to a partnership between USDA and Taste of DC organizers, the Food Safety and Inspection Service was able to stir food safety into the mix of culinary topics. Read more »

The Gardeners’ Share Grows in McLean

In McLean, a community tucked inside Fairfax County, not everyone can access the food they need for good health. I interviewed Julie Mendoza about her efforts to connect hungry families in McLean with fresh produce.

Julie knew that Share McLean, a food pantry that serves hungry families in the area, often lacked fresh produce. As she was walking through the McLean community garden one day, she noticed that there was an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. She decided she would try to facilitate a relationship between the garden and Share McLean, calling it The Gardeners’ Share of McLean.

Young gardeners at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church grow food for The Gardener’s Share.

Young gardeners at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church grow food for The Gardener’s Share.

Read more »

Regional Drought Workshops Give Stakeholders an Opportunity to Learn About Resources

Deputy Thomas  Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs at the Economic Development Administration (left); Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar (right), and Colleen Callahan of USDA prepare for the morning session at the drought conference. USDA photo.

Deputy Thomas Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs at the Economic Development Administration (left); Colorado Agriculture Commissioner John Salazar (right), and Colleen Callahan of USDA prepare for the morning session at the drought conference. USDA photo.

Over 100 attendees joined Thomas Guevara, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Regional Affairs at the US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration and Colorado Agricultural Commissioner John Salazar at the second of four regional workshops to outline resources available to assist with drought recovery efforts. The Colorado regional workshop was held at the state fairgrounds in Pueblo earlier this week. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is partnering with tribes, local, state and federal partners to hold the workshops. Federal partners include the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

With over two-thirds of the country in drought, recovery efforts are underway and a new framework for delivery is being developed.   Collaboration, coordination and communication were the prevalent themes at the Colorado workshop.   These efforts will be needed at all levels of government and our ability to work together is crucial. Read more »