Three years ago this fall, Secretary Vilsack and I launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative (KYF2). Since then, we’ve seen interest and participation in local and regional food systems grow beyond anything we expected: whether I’m meeting with buffalo ranchers from the Great Plains or with members of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I hear about efforts to connect producers and consumers locally and interest in how USDA can help.
In meetings of the White House Rural Council, which has representatives from across the federal government, regional food systems have been a key part of discussions. Read more »
Faith in Place recently secured a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant to operate winter farmers markets.
For 18 years, Tony Ends of Scotch Hill Farm worked hard to develop direct marketing opportunities for his family’s crops and products. For over six of those years, he advocated for other small farms in winter markets that he organized with Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa churches. Trends in farming and the recent recession, which spurred a decline in attendance at some markets, have taken a negative toll on some farm families in the upper Midwest, but Tony hasn’t lost faith. Read more »
Jim Howard, Half Moon Bay District Conservationist, visits with Ryan Casey from Blue House Farms.
“When we started, there weren’t any other farms locally doing what we were doing,” says Ryan Casey, of Blue House Farms, outside of Pescadero, Calif. Read more »
Jill Bell and daughter Anna helping with the summer harvest for CSA shares.
Development can often benefit communities at the expense of agriculture; many of Utah’s farms are quickly being replaced by expanding residential, commercial and industrial development. Now many farmers and consumers have joined forces to increase the sustainability of agriculture in Utah with community supported agriculture, especially along the Wasatch Front. Community supported agriculture (CSA) is a way for consumers to directly invest in local farms and receive a regular delivery of fresh fruits, vegetables and other local products. Read more »
April Jones also raises Tamworth heritage hogs as part of her operation, providing four acres of pasture for a breed she describes as being hearty and having a good personality. The rust color of the breed's skin makes them less prone to sunburn, which is an important characteristic for pastured hogs, she says.
April Jones went into farming to grow good food, and she has succeeded. Unexpectedly, along the way she’s also managed to grow a community. Read more »
When Dina Brewster’s grandparents bought their place in Ridgefield, Connecticut, in 1936, the town was dominated by small farms. Many of those farms eventually disappeared to development, or were leased or abandoned. But now some are being revitalized—sometimes, as in Brewster’s case, by the grandchildren of the original owners.
Brewster is the first family member to farm the homestead since her grandmother ran it as a sheep farm. After her grandparents stopped farming, the land lay fallow for years and then was leased to another farmer. Brewster took over the farm in 2006 and set about converting it to a certified organic operation. Read more »