USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and White House Director of Public Engagement Jon Carson in a live Google+ Hangout
What’s the common link between eastern Oregon rancher Cory Carman, Oklahoma Farm to School Coordinator Chris Kirby, New Mexico Food Policy Council leader Pamela Roy, Muckleshoot Tribal member Valerie Segrest, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and Sue Noble, Director of Wisconsin’s Vernon Economic Development Association? Read more »
Screen shot of the newest version of the KYF2 Compass map.
Today, I am proud to announce the release of a new version of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. But before I tell you what makes it new, I want to invite you to join us live at 3pm EDT to hear about it directly from me, from the White House, and from some of the many people whose stories are featured in the Compass guide and map. Read more »
Located in the heart of a “food desert” in the city of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Joshua Farm is a unique one-acre operation that is growing produce for locals through the use of a seasonal high tunnel.
Founder Kirsten Reinford and daughter Havah at Joshua Farm, a unique one-acre operation in Harrisburg, Penn., that grows over 40 varieties of fresh produce for local families.
The high tunnel (also known as a “hoop house”) makes urban farming possible and extends the growing season. Joshua Farm installed its high tunnel with the help of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Read more »
It’s been a little over two weeks since we launched the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass, which includes a multi-media PDF narrative and an accompanying interactive map. Together, they’re designed to help you navigate USDA’s grant and loan programs and learn how USDA supports the development of local and regional food systems. You’ll hear about people across the country putting these resources to work. We hope you’ll be inspired and perhaps get some new ideas to try out on your farm or ranch or in your community.
We never intended to launch the KYF Compass and call it a day. This is just the beginning of what we hope will be a long-term conversation about new opportunities in local and regional food. We’ve reached out to you through a webinar, over Twitter, in our blog and in events with stakeholders to hear your feedback and ideas. And you’ve certainly kept up your end of the conversation! Read more »
Cross posted from the White House blog:
Three years ago, I was asked to participate in the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, out of which grew the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative. In May 2010, we submitted a report to the President that made a series of recommendations for addressing the challenges of obesity and hunger, both of which stem from a lack of access to good, healthy food. The report identified local food systems as a strategy to combat food access problems, and specifically called upon the USDA “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Initiative to provide technical and financial assistance to help communities grow and process their own food, and create jobs at the same time.
I’m pleased to report that we’ve made a lot of progress since 2009 – and we have two new tools to help communities learn about what we’ve done and tap into USDA resources to develop their own solutions. The new Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass is a document packed with photos, video and case studies of communities building strong local food systems. Farmers’ markets, mobile produce vendors, farm to school initiatives, and food hubs are just a few of many examples highlighted by the Compass. The Healthy Food Access section shows how communities are using USDA resources to promote health and the local economy. Read more »
On Friday, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan met with producers in America’s most significant and diverse agricultural state – California. Many people wouldn’t think of farming in Orange County, but there is significant specialty crop production just a few miles away from Disneyland. Farming in southern California’s urban environment is particularly challenging and Merrigan’s first stop was at Manassero Farms in Irvine where she discussed these challenges with local strawberry and tomato grower Dan Manassero. Manassero’s family operation, which has been in business for several generations, has several successful farm stands, as well as commercial relationships with local grocery stores.
Deputy Merrigan then traveled to the headquarters of the Orange County Great Park where she and Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Val Dolcini held a roundtable listening session with dozens of local growers. She also visited The Great Park, formerly home to El Toro Marine Air Station, which spans more than 1,300 acres (nearly twice the size of NewYork’s Central Park) and embraces environmental sustainability, Orange County’s agricultural heritage, and honors the military history of the former air base. Merrigan then toured the Great Park Farm, a 114 acre working farm designed to provide fresh produce to local residents. Read more »