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Rural New York Resident Sees Dream of Home Ownership Become Reality

By Shelly C. Harlander, USDA Rural Development Public Information Coordinator, Syracuse, NY

USDA Rural Development agency celebrated National Home Ownership month in June by presenting a ceremonial key to new home-owner Valerie Hunsdon. Ms. Hunsdon, a single parent of one child, accepted the key on the grounds of her new home in Crown Point, NY. Read more »

The Maryland Challenge

Last week I joined Governor O’Malley and Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Buddy Hance for a cook-out at the Governor’s House in Annapolis, Maryland.  What a blast!  Along with 300 other guests, I sampled wonderful local foods prepared by 19 farmer-chef teams who were the winners in a state-wide recipe contest that showcased their creativity and locally grown and raised foods.  It was great to visit with the winning farmers and dozens of others who were on hand to support local and regional agriculture.

Kathleen Merrigan with a local chef and Anthony Geraci, Food Service Director for Baltimore City Public Schools

Kathleen Merrigan with a local chef and Anthony Geraci, Food Service Director for Baltimore City Public Schools

I know that Governor O’Malley is a strong supporter of Maryland’s farmers and ranchers.  But it was downright inspiring to listen to him as he took the stage to issue a challenge: during this week, buy local challenge week (July 17-July 25), he asked that every Maryland citizen eat at least one locally grown food item each day.  Having stopped earlier at Councell Farms roadside stand in Cordova, Maryland, I am well on my way to meeting his challenge.  And with over 100 farmers markets in Maryland and an increasing number of retailers selling local produce, it is difficult during sweet corn and tomato season to miss all the opportunities to buy local. Read more »

Tomato Plant Diseases and How to Stop Them

Written by Kayla Harless, People’s Garden Intern

Almost everyone who gardens grows tomato plants. We are passionate about our tomatoes and savor that ripe, fresh fruit. However, several diseases love our tomato plants just as much as we do. The People’s Garden Workshop topic this week was tomato blights and spots, and Dr. Martin Draper, a plant pathologist through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, taught us how to identify them and what we can do to treat and prevent them. Read more »

Christie Vilsack Makes Unexpected Visit to Iowa FSA Offices

Written by Beth Grabau, Public Affairs Specialist, Iowa State FSA

The Woodbury and Monona Count Farm Service Agency Service Centers in Iowa welcomed an unexpected guest on Tuesday as Christie Vilsack — wife of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack — stopped by for a visit.

“It was a real privilege to meet with her,” said Woodbury County Executive Director Bryan Stocking. Read more »

Recovery Act Delivers “Fastest-Possible” Internet Access to Squirrel Flat

By Bobby M. Goode, Tennessee State Director

Access to high speed Internet connections grows more important every day. For businesses in Rural America it can be the difference between success and layoffs.

Now a 60-year old telephone co-op and USDA Rural Development (RD) have teamed up to construct the fastest possible broadband network with fiber optic cable all the way to homes and businesses in three very rural counties on Tennessee’s Cumberland Plateau. Read more »

Farmers Market and Fish Hatchery to Improve Quality of Life for Maine’s Aroostook Band of Micmacs

By Virginia Manuel, Maine Rural Development State Director

Diabetes, obesity, alcoholism and cancer are health problems that all of America faces, but a study showed that incidents of these problems are higher among Native Americans.  The Aroostook Band of Micmacs are taking action to change those statistics. Read more »