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Working Side-by-Side, Pennsylvania Families Build a Community

In a small, quaint housing development in south-central Pennsylvania, families are constructing new homes with the help of a unique government program.  USDA Rural Development’s Self-Help Housing Program provides mortgage financing to homeowners and a technical assistance grant to a non-profit agency, in this case, Interfaith Housing Alliance. Interfaith supervises the homeowners who do much of the building of their own homes.  On June 24th, another six homeowners moved into the 39-lot subdivision.

New homeowner Latia Reed considers the program a gift to her family. She credits her son as her inspiration and strength, and the reason she wanted to accomplish the goal of homeownership.  Although the work load was heavy, Reed feels the project was one of the greatest experiences of her life time. Read more »

USDA Conducts Potato Research in Colorado

Under Secretary Ed Avalos, Monte Smith, Colorado potato grower, Jose Luis Vitela Mijares, produce buyer, Soriana, Mexico and Commissioner John Salazar, Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Under Secretary Ed Avalos, Monte Smith, Colorado potato grower, Jose Luis Vitela Mijares, produce buyer, Soriana, Mexico and Commissioner John Salazar, Colorado Department of Agriculture.

As part of the Mexican Trade Mission hosted by the Colorado Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee in the San Luis Valley of Southern Colorado, we experienced an extremely informative stop at the Colorado State University Research Facility in Center.  I walked away with “good news” to share with consumers, retailers, producers and my co-workers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Read more »

Alabama Housing Development Workshop Provides USDA Financing Options to Assist Growing Communities

What better time than National Homeownership Month to host a housing development workshop?    Local officials in Pike County, Alabama, recognized the shortage of available housing for individuals and families interested in relocating to the area because of the hundreds of new job opportunities resulting from recent industry announcements and existing business expansions.  As one of the steps to help address this housing issue, the Pike County Economic Development Corporation (PCEDC) hosted a housing development workshop last week.

During the workshop, lenders, realtors, and developers learned about a variety of Federal and State programs to finance single family and multi-tenant housing.  Representatives of USDA Rural Development shared detailed information and met one-on-one with individuals following the workshop to answer their specific questions.  General questions about eligibility criteria, “green-building” programs and incentives, zoning issues, and rehabilitation of existing multi-tenant housing were raised during the workshop. Read more »

NRCS Volunteers Expand Biologist’s Ability to Monitor Sage-Grouse

NRCS Earth Team volunteers and a Colorado state biologist enjoy lunch in the field during a bird count of the Gunnison sage-grouse in a remote section of high desert. From left, Robert Bright, Michelle Collins, Stephanie Steinhoff (state biologist), Jenny Nehring and Elinor Laurie.

NRCS Earth Team volunteers and a Colorado state biologist enjoy lunch in the field during a bird count of the Gunnison sage-grouse in a remote section of high desert. From left, Robert Bright, Michelle Collins, Stephanie Steinhoff, Jenny Nehring and Elinor Laurie.

This spring, Earth Team volunteers with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) surveyed approximately 300 hundred acres of remote Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and private lands north of Villa Grove, Colo., looking for Gunnison sage-grouse, a ground-dwelling bird considered a keystone species in this habitat. Read more »

Using SNAP Benefits to Grow Your Own Food

A volunteer at the USDA People's Garden tends to Blossom and German Extra Hardy garlic.  The USDA through its People's Garden encourages everyone to grow their own food whether it's a couple of tomato plants or an acre of biointensively grown vegetables.  USDA photo by Lance Cheung

A volunteer at the USDA People's Garden tends to Blossom and German Extra Hardy garlic. The USDA through its People's Garden encourages everyone to grow their own food whether it's a couple of tomato plants or an acre of biointensively grown vegetables. USDA photo by Lance Cheung

Every month, more than 44 million people use SNAP to get nutritious food. Most of us probably imagine participants buying items like tomatoes, squash, and apples with their benefits. But did you know that SNAP can also help people grow their own food? With SNAP, participants can buy seeds and edible plants. It’s a great way to get fresh produce right at home! All SNAP retailers, including Farmers’ Markets, can sell seeds and plants to SNAP participants. Read more »

Outdoor Cows Are in Their Element

(Left to right) Pennsylvania State University agricultural engineer Michael Hile, ARS agricultural engineer Al Rotz and ARS research associate Felipe Montes use a dynamic flux chamber to measure the emission rates of gaseous compounds from manure on a dairy barn floor. ARS photo

(Left to right) Pennsylvania State University agricultural engineer Michael Hile, ARS agricultural engineer Al Rotz and ARS research associate Felipe Montes use a dynamic flux chamber to measure the emission rates of gaseous compounds from manure on a dairy barn floor. ARS photo

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 the USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

News by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) indicates that moving dairy cows out of climate-controlled barns and onto the land may help to lessen the ecological impact of dairy farming without any corresponding loss of production. Read more »