Longleaf Pine forest (photo by William D. Boyer, U.S. Forest Service)
As a kid, I spent Christmas vacations with my family and my grandfather in the longleaf pine forests of South Carolina. While my grandfather and father (and later me) were quail hunters, you don’t have to be a sportsman or a sportswoman to appreciate longleaf pine. Longleaf forests are home to countless wildlife species, a diversity of plants, and provide valuable wood products, such as heart-pine floors that are cherished across the South. Longleaf forests once covered some 90 million acres along the Southeast coastal plain, but over the past two centuries, development, conversion, ill-planned timbering, and fire suppression have reduced longleaf’s range to a mere sliver of its former extent.
USDA and our many conservation partners are working to restore longleaf forests, and we’ve seen significant progress in the recent years. Now, a new Farm Bill program, the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, or RCPP, is providing additional support to the effort. Read more »
A delegation of Thai lumber company executives (including Opas Panitchewakul, Pracha Thawornjira, Jaroonsak Cheewatammanon, Khomwit Boonthamrongkit and Wasant Sonchaiwanich) tours the Mauvila Timber distribution warehouse in Loxly, Ala., with Lane Merchant (left), the company’s general manager.
The pine forests of Georgia and the Pacific Northwest are a far cry from the crowded streets of Bangkok, where several shipments of U.S. softwood products are headed thanks to a collaborative effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the Southern Forest Products Association and the Softwood Export Council.
In June 2014, executives from five Thai lumber companies visited the United States under the auspices of FAS’s Cochran Fellowship Program. Thanks to the knowledge they gained and the relationships they forged with the U.S. softwood industry during their visit, several participants subsequently made first-time purchases of U.S. softwood. These initial purchases are a big step for U.S. softwood producers to make headway into the $58 million market in Thailand. Read more »
A pioneering snorkeling program on the Cherokee National Forest entices students to suit up in wet suits and snorkels. As they immerse themselves in the clean, clear waters protected by the forest, the young visitors discover the amazing aquatic biodiversity that lies beneath including a male (the long fingernails are diagnostic) Hieroglyphic River Cooter turtle seen in this photo. (Photo courtesy of Dave Herasimtschuk © Freshwaters Illustrated)
Deep into the Cherokee National Forest on the headwaters of the Conasauga River, an innovative river conservation program brings thousands of citizen snorkelers to the vibrant waters of Southern Appalachia. Now armchair travelers can enjoy this experience via a six-minute online film.
“A Deeper Creek – The Watchable Waters of Southern Appalachia,” produced by Freshwaters Illustrated in partnership with the Forest Service, takes the viewer to a pool in the river’s headwaters in southern Tennessee and northwest Georgia. The flowing waters teem with 70 species of fish and a dozen species of freshwater mussels and enjoys a “virtual” snorkeling experience. Read more »
Last week, USDA celebrated National School Lunch Week from October 12 -18 with exciting local events across the country. It was a chance for USDA staff to meet with students and hear what they think of the newer, fresher options in the lunch room. It was also an opportunity for USDA officials to say “thank you” to the hardworking school food service professionals who make healthy school lunches possible.
Healthy meals at school are an essential part of every child’s health, development, and academic success. Students’ ability to learn in the classroom, grow up healthy and reach their fullest potential depends on the environment they learn in. And that is why Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, so that all our nation’s students can experience a healthier school environment with more nutritious options. Read more »
Members of the USDA Farm to School team in front of the USDA headquarters in Washington, DC.
Since the official start of the USDA Farm to School Program, we’ve focused on making sure schools have the tools they need to bring local products into the lunchroom and teach children where their food comes from. As October is National Farm to School Month, it seems an opportune time to take stock of the many resources available from USDA to help bring the farm to school.
One of our newest resources, Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs, covers procurement basics — how to define local, where to find local products, and the variety of ways schools can purchase locally in accordance with regulations. The guide is complemented by a twelve-part webinar series called Finding, Buying and Serving Local Foods. Our fact sheets cover topics that range from USDA grants and loans that support farm to school activities to working with Cooperative Extension professionals to grow your program, while a brand new Farm to School Planning Toolkit offers eleven distinct chapters on everything from school gardens to menu planning, marketing and more. Read more »
Beverly Robinson, left, has worked with NRCS District Conservationist Vontice Jackson to make conservation improvements to her goat farm.
The odds were against Beverly Robinson, but she isn’t one that gives in easily. She didn’t let her newness to farming discourage her from following her dream to raise goats.
“Animals have always been a part of our lives even growing up,” Robinson said. “I developed an innate love for animals, and when I retired, I wanted to go back to one of the things I loved, which was to raise animals.”
In the eight years since she retired as a campus president and moved to Soperton, Georgia to follow her dream, Robinson bought a home and 22 acres. She formed RobinsonHouse Farms, Inc. and began her journey as a goat farmer. Read more »