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First South Dakota MarketPlace Draws Over 200 Attendees to Talk About Business and Job Development

The first South Dakota ‘MarketPlace: Opening Doors to Success’ business conference, held in Huron, South Dakota,  late last month drew over 200 participants from across the state for two days of networking and business training. The event focused on energizing small businesses and rural communities.

The conference featured strong, hands-on learning opportunities for potential and existing business owners including on and off farm/ranch, store front or home based, women and Native American owned businesses; community leaders; and youth interested in entrepreneurship. A large group of exhibitors served as resources for participants, enabling them to learn about business solutions products, website design, financing and other business services. Read more »

National Farmers Market Week

Happy National Farmers Market Week!

This year, August 7 through 13 is Farmers Market week.  Thousands of farmers markets across the country offer consumers affordable, convenient, and healthful products sold directly from the farm in their freshest possible state, increasing consumer access to fresh fruits and vegetables and thus promoting child health and potentially reducing childhood obesity.  Farmers markets also play a key role in developing local and regional food systems that support the sustainability of family farms, revitalize communities, and provide opportunities for farmers and consumers to interact. Read more »

Tribes Lead Cultural Preservation Threatened by Invasive Species

Kelly Church, Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa; Richard Silliboy, Aroostook Band of Micmacs; and Butch Jacobs, Passamaquoddy, evaluate the quality, strength and condition of green ash splints pounded from experimental black ash logs.

Kelly Church, Grand Traverse Bay Band of Ottawa and Chippewa; Richard Silliboy, Aroostook Band of Micmacs; and Butch Jacobs, Passamaquoddy, evaluate the quality, strength and condition of green ash splints pounded from experimental black ash logs.

The emerald ash borer beetle (EAB) is responsible for the death and decline of tens of millions of ash trees across 15 States.  It has had a devastating effect wherever ash trees grow.  Whether the ash is used by industry; shading homes and urban streets, or an integral part of our forest ecosystem, its decline due to EAB is being felt by everyone.  Perhaps one of the hardest hit by this pest are Native American tribes of the Northeastern United States for whom brown ash is rooted deep in their culture, providing spiritual and economic support to their communities. Read more »

7,175 Ways to Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food: Visit a Farmers Market

Fresh mushrooms and peppers sold at the Ypsilanti Depot Town Market in Michigan.  Michigan ranks among the top ten states for growth and for number of farmers markets this year.

Fresh mushrooms and peppers sold at the Ypsilanti Depot Town Market in Michigan. Michigan ranks among the top ten states for growth and for number of farmers markets this year. (Image courtesy of realtimefarms.com)

As the weekend approaches, there are things we all look forward to – sleeping in late, spending time with family, splashing in the neighborhood pool, and picnics with friends.  For me, I look forward to visiting my local farmers market.  It is a time for me and my urban-raised children to connect with local farmers and thank them for their hard work in providing the food we eat every day.  In the DC metro region, it’s the height of tomato season here.  I find strange and luscious heirloom tomato varieties in the farmers market that I never see in my grocery store.  Always trying to expand my children’s palate, the farmers market provides a great place to taste fresh foods.  The farmers cheer as my children try new fruits and vegetables.  The infectious excitement and fun at the market facilitates my efforts to get my kids to gobble up healthy food. Read more »

City of Liberal, Kansas and USDA Rural Development Help Families Build Homes

Six families gathered in Liberal, Kan., to celebrate the completion of their newly constructed homes.  The families utilized USDA Rural Development’s Self-Help Housing Program administered by the City of Liberal to help construct the homes.  The family members devote time and labor to painting, roofing, siding and other types of tasks and lower the cost of construction, while developing equity in their new home.

In 2006, the City of Liberal was awarded a technical assistance grant from USDA Rural Development to begin the Self-Help Housing Program.  Through the program, 30 homes have been built in Liberal.  USDA Rural Development’s direct home loans have financed $3.9 million in construction for Liberal’s self-help homes. Read more »

USDA Feeds Families, Dominates OPM Hall of Fame

Emily Clever, Morningside Shelter Case Manager, Deborah Boyd, RD Specialist, and Laura Gibson, co-chair of the Vermont RD Feds Feed Families campaign, deliver food donations to the Morningside Shelter in Vermont.

Emily Clever, Morningside Shelter Case Manager, Deborah Boyd, RD Specialist, and Laura Gibson, co-chair of the Vermont RD Feds Feed Families campaign, deliver food donations to the Morningside Shelter in Vermont.

With just over three weeks left in the 2011 Feds Feed Families campaign, we are nearing the finish line of what has been an extraordinary show of support, commitment and compassion from USDA employees across the country. Read more »