Evan Prem, an Army veteran, inspects aeroponically grown greens at his family-owned Aero Farm in Denver, Colorado. Photo Credit: M. Kunz.
This summer, USDA is highlighting partnerships to invest in the future of rural America. Our partners work with us year after year to leverage resources and grow economic opportunities. They are the key to ensuring our rural communities thrive. Follow more of our stories on Twitter at @USDA or using the hashtag #RuralPartners.
Strong local and regional food systems are anchored in durable relationships. The USDA is proud to work closely with organizations and individuals and other entities across the country who are dedicated to building the networks and infrastructure local food systems need. One partnership in the making is with the Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders (SAFSF). SAFSF is a network of over 85 grantmakers supporting sustainable agriculture and food systems. Established in 1991, SAFSF has been a philanthropic leader in local and regional food system development.
Recently, SAFSF held their 12th annual meeting in Denver, Colorado. The meeting allowed USDA Know Your Farmer Know Your Food team members to interact with foundation leaders as part of our ongoing effort to explore ways USDA programs can leverage non-government funds more strategically. The agenda included site visits to local food projects where public-private partnerships can make a difference. Read more »
USDA Rural Development’s Business and Loan Guarantee Program supported new construction for an expanded Brattleboro Food Coop in Brattleboro, Vermont. The original plan for two stories was expanded to four thanks to an innovative partnership with the Windsor Housing Trust to develop mixed-income apartments.
“Smart Growth” is a term we hear more and more often. It is the idea that as communities plan for the future, they consider the highest and best use of every resource – land, infrastructure, organizations and people. From housing to transportation to energy to food; community developers and planners are asking how Smart Growth principles can be applied to ensure a sustainable and dynamic future for their communities and their residents. Read more »
Last week, USDA Rural Development in Michigan got an early start on Homeownership Month by promoting a pilot refinancing program, announced in February by Secretary Tom Vilsack, to help residents with current USDA home loans reduce their payments.
Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien and USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan James Turner made the announcement at the Portage office of AmeriFirst Home Mortgage, a leading partner with USDA’s Guaranteed Home Loan program. Read more »
Ford’s Food Center - Winnsboro Pictured from left are: Quinon and Gretchen Ford, the owner's of Ford's Fine Food, admiring the affordable cabbage for sale at 39 cents each that was grown and purchased from a local producer.
Recently, I was afforded the opportunity to travel with Jared Hicks, USDA Rural Development’s Business and Cooperative Specialist, to attend the grand opening of a new 19,500 square-foot grocery store in Winnsboro, Louisiana. It was an exciting and happy day for the community residents on the south side of Winnsboro and surrounding towns. Local residents, Chamber of Commerce representatives, and community leaders all were out to celebrate the impressive day-long opening of Ford Food Center. Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) a retailer-owned cooperative and one of the largest wholesale grocery distributors in the United States had staff on-hand to provide assistance for this occasion. Read more »
Cross posted from the White House blog:
Three years ago, I was asked to participate in the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, out of which grew the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. In May 2010, we submitted a report to the President that made a series of recommendations for addressing the challenges of obesity and hunger, both of which stem from a lack of access to good, healthy food. The report identified local food systems as a strategy to combat food access problems, and specifically called upon the USDA “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Initiative to provide technical and financial assistance to help communities grow and process their own food, and create jobs at the same time.
I’m pleased to report that we’ve made a lot of progress since 2009 – and we have two new tools to help communities learn about what we’ve done and tap into USDA resources to develop their own solutions. The new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass is a document packed with photos, video and case studies of communities building strong local food systems. Farmers’ markets, mobile produce vendors, farm to school initiatives, and food hubs are just a few of many examples highlighted by the Compass. The Healthy Food Access section shows how communities are using USDA resources to promote health and the local economy. Read more »
Alan Shortall, CEO of Unilife headquartered in York, PA.
Alan Shortall recently hosted Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and a White House Business Council roundtable at his company’s headquarters in York, Penn. Alan’s company, Unilife, was the recipient of a USDA Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan. His story is proof that public and business sectors can work together to bring about change in rural America.
I was recently honored to host a roundtable discussion between the White House Business Council and local business leaders from York, PA. This meeting and similar roundtable discussions now taking place across the country are an excellent initiative by the Obama Administration as it provides a direct line of communication between employers from across the U.S and senior members of the Federal Government. Read more »