From left to right: Deborah Kane, USDA Farm to School Program; Tim Snyder, Seeds of Change; Leslie Fowler, Chicago Public Schools; Anne Alonzo, AMS Administrator; Jim Slama, FamilyFarmed.org; Paul Saginaw, Zingerman's; Ken Waagner, e.a.t.; and Tom Spaulding, Angelic Organics Learning Center. The Good Food Festival & Conference is the oldest sustainable and local food trade show in America.
For over a century, my hometown of Chicago has been a cultural, financial, and agricultural hub. And as a hub, it has a long history of supporting innovation and opportunity. From the first cattle drives came the great Chicago Stockyards that supplied meat to the nation. From the early trading of the Chicago Butter and Egg Board came the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The city’s richly-woven tapestry of cultural diversity and the success of its food businesses prove Chicago’s value as an ideal business cultivator.
That is why it was so fitting that AMS Deputy Administrator Arthur Neal and I were invited to present at the Good Food Festival & Conference in Chicago on March 14. Hosted by Jim Slama of FamilyFarmed.org, the event is the oldest sustainable and local food trade show in America. Each year it brings together stakeholders including farmers, entrepreneurs, policy makers, and food industry representatives. Read more »
The experiences Lindsey and Ben Shute of Hearty Roots Farm in Clermont, NY helped the Farm Service Agency revise the Farm Storage Facility Loan to make the program more accessible for small and mid-sized farmers.
When Lindsey and Ben Shute contacted their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office looking for loan assistance to build a new cold storage facility for their farm, they had no idea what was in store for them.
For several years, FSA’s Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program had been available for cold storage facilities like the one Lindsey and Ben hoped to build. But Mike Schmidt, Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs in the Farm Service Agency, had been hearing reports that it was not being used widely by diversified fruit and vegetable producers. Unclear on why, he reached out to a number of members of the community-supported agriculture (CSA) field and other diverse fruit and vegetable producers to see what the hurdles were. That’s when Mike got connected to Lindsey and Ben. Read more »
Easy to build, maintain and move, high tunnels provide an energy-efficient way to extend the growing season and provide fresh food for local communities. NRCS photo by Jason Hughes.
Janet Mahala runs an organic farm nestled in a small valley in the Tennessee Appalachian Mountains. Last year she started a Community Supported Agriculture membership program on her farm. Shortly thereafter she expanded production with a high tunnel which has extended her farm’s growing season by several months. Read more »
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 »