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Posts tagged: Environmental Quality Incentives Program

High Five for High Tunnels — Tool Brings Conservation, Fresh Produce to Detroit

Cynthia Brathwaite a loyal customer attends Wayne State University Market Day to purchase D-Town Farm’s fresh produce.

Cynthia Brathwaite a loyal customer attends Wayne State University Market Day to purchase D-Town Farm’s fresh produce.

Sherri Barnes, left, at D-Town Farm, harvest fresh vegetables from their high tunnel to sell at Wayne State University’s Market Day. At right, Kwamena Mensa her father before the market day begins to sell their fresh local produce.

Sherri Barnes, left, at D-Town Farm, harvest fresh vegetables from their high tunnel to sell at Wayne State University’s Market Day. At right, Kwamena Mensa her father before the market day begins to sell their fresh local produce.

The Detroit Black Community Food Security Network’s D-Town Farm located in River Rouge Park produces farm-to-table produce using a conservation practice encouraged by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). By using seasonal high tunnels, the practice helps to address food security in the city.

High tunnels, or hoop houses, conserve resources while serving as a source for local food. They are plastic-covered structures that enable farmers to have crops ready earlier or later in the season. In high tunnels, plants are grown directly in the ground, and the temperature is regulated by opening or closing the plastic curtain sides and doors on the ends. Read more »

USDA Pledges Support to Restore Water Quality in Vermont’s Lake Champlain

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA will commit $45 million for on-the-ground conservation activities to protect and improve soil and water quality in the Lake Champlain Basin in Vermont over the next five years.  Senator Patrick Leahy (right) and Rep. Peter Welch look on.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA will commit $45 million for on-the-ground conservation activities to protect and improve soil and water quality in the Lake Champlain Basin in Vermont over the next five years. Senator Patrick Leahy (right) and Rep. Peter Welch look on.

Lake Champlain has been plagued by blue-green algae blooms caused by a large amount of phosphorous and other nutrients in the New England lake. Recently, USDA launched a special initiative in the Lake Champlain basin, which is composed of New York and Vermont, to invest $45 million in protecting and improving soil and water quality over the next five years.

“Our work helps farmers prevent phosphorus laden runoff which leads to the blue green algae blooms,” said Vicky Drew, the state conservationist for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in Vermont. “NRCS conservationists work with farmers to ensure that manure is properly stored, and we provide assistance in the application of manure to their fields according to a nutrient management plan.”  Read more »

New Fences Keep Cattle In, But Allow Elk & Wildlife to Move Freely

Ryan Murray, NRCS rangeland management specialist, inspects a wildlife-friendly fence installed on John Nunn’s ranch in Albany County, Wyoming.

Ryan Murray, NRCS rangeland management specialist, inspects a wildlife-friendly fence installed on John Nunn’s ranch in Albany County, Wyoming.

Long-time rancher John Nunn’s land is near a route where pronghorn migrate. His ranch is surrounded by woven fences, and although the pronghorn can sometimes find a way through, he wanted to ease access for them.

 “We found they would go a certain path, and we didn’t want to jeopardize that,” Nunn said. Read more »

Ohio Farmers Show Their Commitment to Protecting Lake Erie

Four types of cover crops, including annual rye, oilseed radish, crimson clover and rapeseed, are being seeded into wheat stubble. Photo by Dianne Johnson, NRCS.

Four types of cover crops, including annual rye, oilseed radish, crimson clover and rapeseed, are being seeded into wheat stubble. Photo by Dianne Johnson, NRCS.

Ohio farmer Allen Dean holds a four-way blend of cover crop seeds. Photo by Dianne Johnson, NRCS.

Ohio farmer Allen Dean holds a four-way blend of cover crop seeds. Photo by Dianne Johnson, NRCS.

In the wake of a water crisis that left 400,000 Toledo, Ohio-area residents without water to drink, bathe or cook, the U.S. Department of Agriculture took action.

USDA created an opportunity for farmers in Ohio’s portion of the Western Lake Erie Basin to apply for a special initiative of Environmental Quality Incentives Program that focuses on cover crops. Farmers had one week to apply for assistance to plant cover crops through this initiative, the deadline for which passed earlier this week. Read more »

USDA Reaches Out to Farmers with Sweet Conservation Incentives

Pineapples are an iconic crop in Puerto Rico, and they’re emerging again as a popular farming enterprise on the island.

Pineapples are an iconic crop in Puerto Rico, and they’re emerging again as a popular farming enterprise on the island.

NRCS staff members visit with Puerto Rico pineapple farmers in Lajas, Puerto Rico.

NRCS staff members visit with Puerto Rico pineapple farmers in Lajas, Puerto Rico.

Pineapples are emerging again as a popular farming enterprise in Puerto Rico because of a new variety that packs more sweetness and boasts stronger harvests. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is working with pineapple farmers to prevent erosion, improve soil health and keep water clean downstream by encouraging them to use conservation practices.

The new variety is the golden pineapple, or Ananas Commosus vra MD2, which produces so much more fruit than the traditional Cabezona pineapple that farm acreage planted in pineapples on the island has doubled from 250 acres in 2011 to 500 acres this year.  Read more »

USDA Helps Syrup Producers Cut Back on Energy Use but Not Sweetness

A youngster enjoying how maple syrup is made. NRCS photograph.

A youngster enjoying how maple syrup is made. NRCS photograph.

In New England – or anywhere for that matter – nothing says the weekend like a short stack fresh off the griddle, covered by its inimitable mate, maple syrup. Whether the color is dark amber or golden light, the flavor is unmistakable. But as we pick up our forks and dig in, how many of us really think about where it comes from or how it’s made?

Did you know the most common tree used is the sugar maple? It grows mostly in the Northeast and Canada.

Production of maple syrup continues to climb, and according to data from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Connecticut saw an increase in maple sugar production with a record 78,000 taps in 2013. Read more »