Windy City Harvest Graduate Aaron Serrano shows NIFA National Program Leader Siva Sureshwaran seedlings in the Daley City College greenhouse. (Photo: Alexandra Wilson)
Aaron Serrano was 15 years-old when he was charged with a felony and sentenced as an adult to two years in a Chicago-area prison. Today, at age 18, he has a full-time job at FarmedHere, an aquaponics agricultural producer in Chicago, where his boss calls him “a treasure.”
Serrano’s transformation from a troubled teenager into a well-trained agricultural professional wouldn’t have been possible without the opportunities given to him by the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest, which runs a Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) project funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Read more »
Volunteers planted an heirloom variety of tomato called ‘Abraham Lincoln’ in People’s Garden throughout the world to celebrate USDA’s 150th Anniversary in 2012. More than 11,800 pounds of Lincoln Tomatoes were harvested and donated to food banks.
It’s National Volunteer Week and an ideal time to share how USDA employees and partners are volunteering their time to green communities and provide fresh food to those in need.
It all started in 2009 when Agriculture Secretary Vilsack established a Department-wide volunteer program for the People’s Garden Initiative. He encouraged every USDA employee to get involved by volunteering time and expertise to create a People’s Garden – a challenge he then extended to all Americans. Read more »
The Houserock Valley Bison Herd grazes on the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona. Bison will soon be seen grazing on the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois. (U.S. Forest Service photo)
Today, roughly half-a-million bison dot the nation’s landscape, a far cry from the more than 20 to 30 million that once roamed much of North America.
And while they have not been part of the Forest Service’s Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie ecosystem for more than a century, the habitat here will soon be home for 20 to 30 of the animals, perhaps as early as December 2013. Read more »
The Midwest Region encouraged interns to participate in the People’s Garden as part of its Cultural Transformation efforts.
It is amazing what successful partnerships we have developed through our USDA People’s Garden initiative in the Food & Nutrition Service’s Midwest Region. It’s been four years now since we began working with the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest Program to create our garden. The garden is a symbol of USDA’s history in connecting our people to the land. Throughout the years, we have helped maintain raised garden beds in one of Chicago’s most economically and socially challenged neighborhoods. Now we have expanded those efforts to include our federal neighbors and partners at the Environmental Protection Agency. Read more »
Bonnie Dotson and her husband Josh sell fresh fruits and vegetables from their farm at Division Street Market in Chicago, IL.
Last summer I witnessed an amazing group of partners – the majority women, coincidentally – making a big difference in the lives of those who suffer from hunger. It all started with USDA’s effort to expand the availability of wireless technology at farmers markets not currently accepting SNAP benefits.
It’s sometimes difficult for markets to accept SNAP, because they need Electronic Benefit Transfer equipment and electricity to process benefits from the card. The funding can be used to help markets purchase the processing equipment, and to pay for wireless service so the equipment can be used without a power source. This is really exciting because it means more SNAP participants can access fresh, affordable and local produce and more American farmers can expand their client base. Read more »
Earlier today, I had the pleasure of congratulating 11 extraordinary individuals being recognized through the White House Champions of Change program for their work to tackle hunger in the United States and abroad.
The Champions recognized today are making improved access to healthy food a reality for millions of individuals in need. Innovative programs like the Community Food Advocates in New York City, Parents United for Healthy Schools/Padres Unidos para Escuelas Saludables in Chicago, and the Mandela Marketplace in Oakland, California are helping to empower families and communities and reducing the depth and severity of hunger in America. And the work of organizations like Thriive, Fort Valley State University College of Agriculture, Family Sciences and Technology, and Catholic Medical Mission Board are taking on the fight against hunger worldwide. Read more »