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Rock n’ Roll Conservationists Celebrate America’s Forests, USDA Green Buildings Strategy

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks with elementary school students from Barnard Elementary in Northwest Washington D.C. about their participation in Project Learning Tree, a partnership conservation education program with the American Forest Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service (US Forest Service photo)

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack speaks with elementary school students from Barnard Elementary in Northwest Washington D.C. about their participation in Project Learning Tree, a partnership conservation education program with the American Forest Foundation and the U.S. Forest Service (Photo by Chris Kleponis, LLC)

America’s forests and all the benefits they provide were cause for celebration at a special reception Wed., March 30 in Washington D.C. as part of America’s recognition of the U.N.’s Year of Forests 2011. Read more »

Energy Audits: Helping Farmers Save Money and Energy

The LaFlammes in their greenhouse.

The LaFlammes in their greenhouse.

This winter, I had the opportunity to see an energy audit on a family farm near Amherst, Mass. Bruce LaFlamme and his son, Phil, had requested the audit to help them find ways to conserve heat and better insulate their greenhouse, where they grow vegetables year-round, as well as other plants during certain seasons. Read more »

Morning Star Foodies Reap Harvest From Let’s Move! Blog

Morning Star Foodie Brandon Brown inspects the donated cumquat bush he took charge of to ensure its proper care.

Morning Star Foodie Brandon Brown inspects the donated cumquat bush he took charge of to ensure its proper care.

Cross posted from the Let’s Move! blog:

Back in January, we posted a blog about the Chefs Move to Schools initiative, called Chef Helps Special Needs School Children Explore New Foods.  The story highlighted the efforts of Morning Star School, Orlando, Fla., and created a windfall of support in the local community for the Morning Star Foodies.  The Morning Star Foodies are the special needs students involved in the school’s Let’s Move! program. Read more »

Breakfast – Making a Big Difference in Milwaukee

There is much we adults can learn from children, and one of them is being able to appreciate the simple things. I was at the Milwaukee Sign Language School in Milwaukee for a celebration of School Breakfast Week. I was thrilled by the students’ delight as Active Apple (Milwaukee Public Schools’ nutrition and fitness mascot) and Power Panther (USDA’s nutrition and fitness mascot) strolled into their classrooms.

The hearing-impaired students watched with rapt attention as their teachers signed to them about the mascots and special guests.  All the children seemed thrilled with the Active Apple pins and bookmarks the special guests distributed to them. Best of all, they clearly liked the calming routine of picking up their breakfast bags and eating at their desks. The cold breakfast, served in a simple paper box, was simple yet satisfying, as evidenced by the disappearing Multi-grain Cheerios, milk, juice and cereal bars. Read more »

In Energy Security, Rural America Leads the Way

This week, President Obama called on our nation to put an end – once and for all – to our dependence on foreign oil.  He laid out a plan for a more secure future by producing energy here at home, and investing in efficient vehicles and buildings. You can read more about it and watch a video of the President’s speech at Georgetown University in the Administration’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future on the White House blog.

Rural America is helping to lead these efforts. Read more »

Hmong Farmers Extend the Chilly Massachusetts Growing Season

A Flats Mentor Farm grower tends Asian crops growing in a high tunnel put in place with NRCS assistance.

A Flats Mentor Farm grower tends Asian crops growing in a high tunnel put in place with NRCS assistance.

The near-record snowfall in Massachusetts this winter did not deter farmer Pa Thao. In fact, it strengthened his resolve to make sure that nothing happened to the high tunnel that he put up last fall, so that it would be there when he’s ready to plant mustard greens and pea tendrils in the early spring. Every day Thao, who is from Laos, in tropical Southeast Asia, trudged across the frozen field with a shovel to clear snow away from the structure. Read more »