Lee and Linda Marshall harvest herbs in the church’s seasonal high tunnel (NRCS photo by Barbara Bowen).
One high tunnel can’t feed the world, but it can make a world of difference in providing fresh fruits and vegetables to those with limited access to healthy foods. These plastic covered structures use natural sunlight to create more favorable conditions for vegetables and specialty crops. And for the 31st Street Baptist Church in Richmond, Va., one high tunnel has given them a new identity as an urban farm and model for community agriculture.
The church’s senior pastor, Dr. Morris Henderson, began this new chapter in 2009 when he expanded their small garden to meet a growing need. The local soup kitchen had closed and members of the congregation were bringing their own food to help the local poor and homeless. During this time, Vernon Heath, a small farm agent with Virginia State University, suggested the pastor contact the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to submit an application for a seasonal high tunnel. Read more »
Students plant hundreds of red Russian kale seedlings to be harvested for their summer CSA program. (Photo credit: Jessica Kourkounis)
One of the best parts of my job as a Farm to School Regional Lead for the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is visiting schools and districts that are bringing local foods into the cafeteria and teaching students where their food comes from. And I am always particularly excited when I get to visit programs with innovative school garden components, like William Penn High School, part of Delaware’s Colonial School District.
Several years ago, William Penn went through a major restructure. Part of what came out of that process was a renewed commitment to agricultural education, and the recognition that the 117-acre William Penn Historic Farm, operated by a local land trust, could be a major asset to the school. A new agriculture “major” was established, and students took over two acres of the adjacent parcel to grow more than 30 varieties of fruits and vegetables. They also started a CSA program selling shares to teachers and community members. Read more »
Beautiful meals like this are what’s for lunch today and every day in schools across the country. (Photo credit: Matthew Noel)
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in the digital age we have ample opportunity to document and broadcast every moment, meeting and meal. We have all seen those unappetizing photos of food served at school that quickly go viral. A lonesome whole wheat bun atop a sad fish fillet; a mysterious-looking meat mixture served next to an apple. It’s natural to ask, “Is this what they serve for lunch!?”
No, it’s really not. Read more »
Vegetables growing in raised beds at Hollygrove Market and Farm (HGMF) in New Orleans, LA. USDA photo by Karen Lawson.
Nothing says springtime more than the sprouts and shoots of a garden. Secretary Vilsack has declared April, 2015 as National Garden Month. The official proclamation celebrates the great American tradition of gardening at home, at school and in the community.
USDA’s commitment to gardening has deep roots. The USDA People’s Garden Initiative, was launched in 2009 and since 2,116 gardens have registered as People’s Gardens in communities across the United States and its territories and in 12 foreign countries. The First Lady’s Let’s Move! Initiative has great information about starting a kitchen, school or community garden and the Plant Hardiness Zone Map, developed by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, is a go-to guide for gardeners across the nation. Have a gardening question? Visit eXtension for in-depth and research-based gardening and landscape advice from your local land grant university. Read more »
A resource specialist with NRCS discusses features of the purple prairie clover planted in the plant material plots. USDA photo.
A new garden consisting of plants used in conservation work is now open in Champaign, Illinois to train staff members of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as well as conservation partners.
NRCS has planted a total of 33 different varieties of plants consisting of cool-season grasses, warm-season grasses, legumes and forbs.
While the garden was developed to train staff, the garden at the NRCS office is also open to the public on weekdays. Read more »
First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Chefs join children from Bancroft and Tubman Elementary Schools to harvest vegetables during the third annual White House Kitchen Garden fall harvest on the South Lawn, Oct. 5, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
It may still be cold outside, but it doesn’t mean you can’t start thinking about your spring garden. Whether you’re planning a school garden or have the perfect plot of land in your backyard, Let’s Move! has all the tools you need to get started! Gardening not only stocks your kitchen with all-natural fruits and veggies rich with nutrients, it can be a great way to give your kids a hands-on lesson in healthy eating. Read more »