If you are a regular USDA blog reader, you’ve heard about the new Farm to School Census, which shows the national farm to school footprint down to the school district level. With farm to school purchases topping $350 million across the country and over 38,000 schools nationwide participating in farm to school activities, local food is making marks in schools.
But who produces all that local food? How does the food make it from the farm to the lunch tray? How are farmers and ranchers getting the support they need to take advantage of this, and other, blossoming local food market opportunities? What role does the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and our federal partners play in the local food system? Read more »
Mildred Griggs of Marianna, Ark., installed a seasonal high tunnel through the USDA StrikeForce Initiative for Rural Growth and Opportunity.
Mildred Griggs, of Marianna, Ark., wasn’t looking for bragging rights when she installed her new seasonal high tunnel, last year, but that’s what she earned this spring after harvesting her first winter vegetable crop.
“We had the best salad green mix in the region,” says Griggs.
With the high tunnel, Griggs was able to extend her fall growing season of fresh produce into the winter months. Her harvest included lettuce, spinach, beets, carrots and greens. Read more »
El Rincon Farm’s high tunnel and crops of lentils, corn, Chimayó chile and other crops in Chimayó, N.M. Photo from NRCS.
Everything that siblings Adán and Pilar Trujillo do on their Chimayó, New Mexico, farm connects with the community. Their lettuce and chile peppers feed students at local schools. And they sell their rhubarb, rainbow chard and red Russian kale at the community market just down the road in Española.
Conservation work helps the brother-and-sister duo make this possible. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is honoring contributions made by Hispanic Americans like the Trujillos to our nation during National Hispanic Heritage Month, an annual commemoration held Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Read more »
New Jersey farmer Liang Shao Hua listens to NRCS technical advisor Frank Wu provide advice in Chinese Mandarin, Liang’s native language. His limited English proficiency restricted his exposure to USDA farm programs until Tropical Storm Sandy made it necessary for Liang to connect with the department for assistance. He is now an FSA loan recipient and appreciates the cost-share benefits of the Emergency Conservation Program funds that assisted his family’s clean-up efforts.
Disasters create pain. And recovery from disasters creates partnerships and opportunity.
That is the lesson Liang Shao Hua learned in the past year after Tropical Storm Sandy, also known as Super Storm Sandy, destroyed his New Jersey high-tunnel farming operation and left him wondering how to manage his loss.
Liang, a Chinese American with very limited English proficiency, relied first on his American-born son, Peter, a 21-year-old college student studying at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York. Peter obtained USDA paperwork from the Farm Service Agency (FSA) that helped his father apply for Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) funds. He, his brother, David, 19, and mother, Pei Yin, joined Liang in the clean-up efforts.
Liang Shao Hua was among 315 successful applicants for ECP, one-third from New Jersey. The applicants stretched from West Virginia to New Hampshire. That was the wide swath where Sandy and her trailing cold front left a path of destruction to Atlantic Coast and New England farms. 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 »
A polyethylene cover will be added to this frame to allow a seasonal high tunnel to do its job – provide a warmer climate for plants.
For years, Avon Standard has tilled the soil, planted the seeds and harvested the produce from his community garden with one purpose in mind—to feed people.
“My passion is to give and grow,” says Standard of the fruits and vegetables that he provides free to family, friends and the surrounding community. He recently took his efforts a step further. Read more »