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New Guide to Managing Invasive Plants in the South

Cogongrass, a nonnative invasive plant, infesting a southern pine plantation. (photo by Chris Evans, courtesy of Forestry Images)

Cogongrass, a nonnative invasive plant, infesting a southern pine plantation. (photo by Chris Evans, courtesy of Forestry Images)

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.

Nonnative plants have hitchhiked their way into flower beds, gardens, and yards of landowners in the South for decades, invading and often harming forests and other natural areas by pushing out native plants and degrading wildlife habitat. These exotic plants often reduce forest productivity, wildlife diversity, and water quality and quantity. Read more »

Check Your Steps! Clean: Wash Hands and Surfaces Often to Keep Your Family Safer from Food Poisoning

Bacteria exist everywhere in our environment, and some of them can make us really sick. Illness-causing bacteria exist in or on food, on countertops, kitchen utensils, hands, pets, and in the dirt where food grows. As part of the Food Safe Families campaign, this week’s Check Your Steps blog focuses on cleaning before, during, and after preparing and eating food to keep your family safer from food poisoning. Read more »

Wisconsin Business Excels in the Asian Market with Help from USDA’s Market Access Program

With assistance from USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) and working with Food Export-Midwest, a Milwaukee-based company has expanded its access to the Asian market for its brand of specialty cookies. Nikki’s Cookies & Confections has been baking a full line of shortbreads, chocolate layered cookies and holiday specialty products for 25 years. The company’s export success was recently recognized in the National Export Strategy Report, an annual update on the National Export Initiative progress. Under this initiative President Obama set a goal of doubling overall U.S. exports by the end of 2014. Read more »

It’s Never Too Late to Start a New Beginning

Just ask eighty-six year old Rita Fincher in Park Hills, Missouri and she will tell you it is never too late to start a new beginning.

After raising ten children in a mobile home, her current dwelling was literally falling in around her when her children and grand children came to the rescue.  One of the grandsons was in the real estate business and learned of a vacant home that had been foreclosed and owned by a local bank.   With the help of the USDA Rural Development direct home loan program she applied through the Farmington, Missouri office and was determined eligible.  The house was structurally sound but needed lots of tender loving care.  With some financial help from the local bank and USDA Rural Development, her family, church friends, and neighbors made the needed repairs and improvements. Read more »

The Church Floated Down the Street…and Around the Corner

U.S. Historical Marker for Methodist church in Swan Quarter.

U.S. Historical Marker for Methodist church in Swan Quarter.

Back in 1876, the Methodists of the coastal community of Swan Quarter, NC were keenly aware of flooding issues from heavy rain and high tides. As a result, they sought property less prone to flooding for a new church. But their efforts to purchase a specific vacant lot on high ground were unsuccessful, so the church was built near the heart of the town on a lower lot. Read more »

CSA Utah: Rooted in Your Community, Harvested for Your Table

Jill Bell and daughter Anna helping with the summer harvest for CSA shares.

Jill Bell and daughter Anna helping with the summer harvest for CSA shares.

Development can often benefit communities at the expense of agriculture; many of Utah’s farms are quickly being replaced by expanding residential, commercial and industrial development. Now many farmers and consumers have joined forces to increase the sustainability of agriculture in Utah with community supported agriculture, especially along the Wasatch Front. Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a way for consumers to directly invest in local farms and receive a regular delivery of fresh fruits, vegetables and other local products. Read more »