U.S. Christmas tree growers harvested and sold 20 million trees last year, up 55 percent in 5 years.
From the smell of fresh pine, to the vibrant colors of poinsettias, the holiday season is the perfect time of year to spotlight America’s horticulture growers through the just released 2014 Census of Horticultural Specialties report. I’ve experienced firsthand how unique and amazing this industry is by working nationwide with producers and stakeholders as USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics (NASS) nursery and floriculture commodity specialist.
For example, did you know farmers can invest more than 8 years growing a Christmas tree for harvest? While there are not many producers dedicated to this work, according to our latest report industry sales grew. In 2014, there were 3,386 Christmas tree producers in the United States. That year there were a total of 20 million cut Christmas trees sold, valued at $367 million in sales. This was a significant increase from the last report in 2009, when only 13 million trees were cut and sold for a total of $250 million. Read more »
Stephen Handler leading teachers through a field exercise at the G-WOW Changing Climate, Changing Culture Teacher Institute. (Photo credit: Cathy Techtmann, University of Wisconsin-Extension)
USDA celebrates National Native American Heritage Month in November with a blog series focused on USDA’s support of Tribal Nations and highlighting a number of our efforts throughout Indian Country and Alaska. Follow along on the USDA blog.
When you are faced with a big problem, it helps to have all your friends working together.
There’s a great example of this philosophy playing out in the Northwoods of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan between the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, an organization that supports the hunting, gathering, and fishing treaty rights of 11 member Ojibwe tribes and the U.S. Forest Service. Representatives of the Commission and Forest Service meet regularly to collaborate on a wide range of issues, including wildlife management, law enforcement, and youth education. Read more »
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Rural Development State Director for Michigan James J. Turner (fifth from right) cuts the ribbon for the Mt. Pleasant Native Farmers Market with Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal Chief Steve Pego.
To update you on a story featured previously, I was honored to cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe’s Mt. Pleasant Native Farmers Market. We broke ground on this project in June, and it is great to see the pavilion completed in time to share this summer’s produce.
Tribal Chief Steve Pego sang a ceremonial song and a traditional offering of medicine was made to commemorate the occasion. He noted that the response had been overwhelming and hoped it would lead to revival of interest in growing traditional crops and also improve the diet of tribal members, moving them away from processed food to fresh, locally-grown produce. Read more »
Reed Fitton has enhanced honey bee habitat on the pastures he manages near Gays Mills, Wisconsin.
Reed Fitton grazes cattle on the same hilltop farm where the late conservationist Ben Logan grew up and later featured in his memoir, “The Land Remembers.” Fitton carefully manages the farm near Gays Mills, Wisconsin with a broad conservation ethic, preventing soil erosion and protecting waterways. He has also transformed the Ben Logan’s “Seldom Seen Farm” into an oasis for honey bees and other pollinators.
When USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) launched a new coordinated effort to improve honey bee habitat in 2014, Fitton was one of the first to participate. He works closely with NRCS to make improvements to the land that provide better forage for his cattle, improve existing hayfields and convert former corn fields into healthy pasture. Read more »
Tyra Jonas currently serves as the Michigan FFA State Reporter and is a freshman at Michigan State University.
Today in our Women’s Week blog series, we feature Tyra Jonas, a college freshman from the small town of Ravenna, Michigan where the smell of pickles and cheering from the football stadium isn’t uncommon. She is a freshman at Michigan State University studying agricultural communications. She currently serves as the Michigan FFA State Reporter and travels across Michigan to help members build their knowledge on agriculture and leadership qualities and tour many agriculture industries. Read more »
USDA’s revised guide, Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs can help schools find, buy and serve more regional offerings.
Fruits and vegetables are at the top of USDA’s back to school list, and just in time for the new school year, the Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables is making it easier for schools in eight states to purchase them. The 2014 Farm Bill authorizes the pilot in not more than eight states participating in the National School Lunch Program, and provides them with an opportunity to better access nutritious foods. The pilot also helps create and expand market opportunities for our nation’s fruit and vegetable producers, opening the door for a variety of vendors, small growers, food hubs and distributors to supply unprocessed fruits and vegetables to participating schools.
So far, five states (California, Connecticut, Michigan, New York and Oregon) have spent over $600,000 through the pilot from February through June 2015. Several California districts contracted a produce distributor to connect local and regional producers with schools to receive peaches, cauliflower, apricots, and kale from their state. Students in Oregon are chomping on pears from the Pacific Northwest, while many Connecticut and New York schools are feasting on Macintosh apples from Massachusetts orchards and Empire apples from New York. Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin were also selected for the pilot and will begin receiving deliveries of fruits and vegetables in the coming months. Read more »