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Posts tagged: Grants

Communities Across the Nation Work Tirelessly to End Hunger. Join the Movement!

USDA took one step closer to ending hunger in America today with the announcement of 14 Hunger-Free Communities Grantees.   The important goal to end hunger and improve domestic nutrition is a top priority for the Obama administration, and an aspiration our innumerable partners have rallied around.

Those commitments from non-profit and faith-based organizations, state and local governments, private industry, and from the public to end hunger in their communities is nothing short of amazing. It’s a movement that has gained strength, in part because it’s an achievable goal.  It’s also becoming clear that if we work together to ensure our nation’s hungry people have access to nutritious foods, much headway can be made on the front. Read more »

Rural Business Administrator Tours Renewable Energy, Regional Food Projects in Massachusetts

USDA Rural Business Administrator Judy Canales joined State Director Jay Healy recently for discussions about, and tours of, three Rural Development financed projects currently underway in Massachusetts.   Their first stop was at Berkshire East Ski Area in Charlemont, where the Administrator led a roundtable discussion about USDA’s renewable energy initiatives and celebrated the installation of a new, 900kW wind turbine at the ski area.

Rural Development provided Berkshire East a loan guarantee through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).  The funds were used, in conjunction with commercial financing through Greenfield Savings Bank and State Clean Energy Center grants, to purchase and install the wind turbine at the family-owned ski area. Read more »

South Dakota Forum held to discuss Healthy Meals for Students

Opportunities for freshly grown local produce to be served in schools were discussed when school district food service directors attended an informational forum in Pierre, South Dakota last week.  They participated with a panel made up of South Dakota food producers, USDA Rural Development, South Dakota State Department of Agriculture, Dakota Rural Action, the state Department of Health, Value Added Agriculture Development Center and South Dakota Buy Fresh-Buy Local representatives.

Farm to School is a program that connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers. Read more »

Iowa’s Innovative Bioenergy Industries Have Caught the Attention of the Nation and the World

This week I had the pleasure of meeting with representatives from eight German companies who are in Iowa to learn more the approach to biofuels in the US, and specifically in Iowa. Read more »

Conservation Science Training Center in Ohio Constructed with Support from USDA

By Michael Jones, Rural Development Public Affairs Director

On June 8, 2010, Ohio State Rural Development Director Tony Logan joined other funding partners and representatives from The Wilds for a ribbon cutting ceremony, celebrating the official opening of the Conservation Science Training Center (CSTC). Rural Development awarded $30,000 from its Community Facilities Grant Program to help fund the facility’s construction. The CSTC is a 3,600 square foot facility built to further the Wilds’ conservation and educational mission.

The CSTC will provide meeting, classroom, laboratory space and cabins to be used for extended stays by national and international visiting research teams. Constructed directly into a natural hillside, the facility incorporates geothermal heating and cooling, natural lighting, and other green-identified technologies. Nestled on nearly 10,000 acres dedicated to conservation research and education, the Wilds’ current research activities include: prairie biomass and carbon sequestration initiatives, grassland bird research and biodiversity surveys, prairie restoration and more.

Bringing the CSTC on line will expand the ability of The Wilds to provide additional support and opportunities for professors, teachers, students and visitors to investigate the ecological systems and wildlife health in Ohio’s Appalachian region. Funding partners included: the USDA Rural Development, American Electric Power Foundation, the Appalachian Regional Commission, Governor’s Office of Appalachia and Hocking College.

Rural Development State Director Tony Logan (second from left), participates

From left to right: Dr. Roy Palmer, Senior Vice President, Hocking College; Tony Logan, State Director, USDA Rural Development; Dr. Evan Blumer, Executive Director, The Wilds; Robert Powers, President, AEP Utilities; Fred Deel, Director, Governor’s Office of Appalachia.

“The Big Garden” Spreads Like Wildflower

By USDA Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Inner city Omaha is an economically distressed area, especially among the predominantly African-American and senior populations. Poverty rates and obesity among young people are high and access to healthy, affordable food is low, especially for those who need it most.

Rev. Stephanie Ahlschwede, Executive Director of United Methodist Ministries for the Missouri River District, began “The Big Garden” project in 2005, aided by a grant from the USDA Community Food Projects.  Five gardens were established in 2006 and were met with a resoundingly enthusiastic response.  Just three years later, The Big Garden network had grown to 22 gardens through collaboration with area churches and a variety of community organizations. Residents have their choice of simply donating time to the gardens or taking responsibility for cultivating and caring for a plot of their own and then harvesting and enjoying the results. As part of the initial design of the program, a portion of the fresh produce is donated to seniors in the neighborhood.

Through a cooperative program with a local nursing association, cooking classes are taught as part of the area’s after school programs. Many of the young people participating have never eaten fresh fruits and vegetables. With the benefit of a grant from the Omaha Public Power Department, the project has planted a number of fruit and nut trees. According to Project Manager Jessica Mews, the young people working in the gardens love the fresh produce as well as many of the products generated from the gardens. Kale chips are a particular favorite and, according to Mews, the kids can’t get enough of them.

The Big Garden is now on to the next phase, a garden in rural Nebraska — “The Big Rural Garden Project of Southeast Nebraska.” An acre of land in Auburn, a small rural community nearby, was donated and the local Methodist Church is managing the program. They are also collaborating with the local United Way Fund using a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to fight obesity. In 2008, the Sierra Club recognized the Big Garden as one of 50 exceptional faith-based environmental initiatives in the U.S.

Enjoying the community garden at the United Methodist Wesley in Omaha.

Enjoying the community garden at the United Methodist Wesley in Omaha.