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Posts tagged: Michigan

Agriculture and Rural Main Streets on the Agenda for Smart Growth

Agriculture and food system development were featured agenda topics at the recent New Partners for Smart Growth Conference, an annual conference sponsored by the Local Government Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Department of Transportation, the Centers for Disease Control and several other public and private organizations.

I went to the Smart Growth conference on behalf of USDA Rural Development to demonstrate USDA’s commitment to investing in the future of rural communities.  Smart Growth principles can offer innovative strategies for using scarce federal dollars efficiently to promote sustainable and sound investments on main streets everywhere, and are valuable in helping rural communities consider how to creatively use existing resources and infrastructure to serve and celebrate their unique identities. Read more »

Who Has the Best Tasting Water in Rural America?

USDA Acting Administrator John Padalino (second from left)  along with panel of judges at Great American Water Taste Test. Photo courtesy of the National Rural Water Association. Used with permission.

USDA Acting Administrator John Padalino (second from left) along with panel of judges at Great American Water Taste Test. Photo courtesy of the National Rural Water Association. Used with permission.

And the winner … the city of Prairie du Sac in southern Wisconsin for having the best tasting water in rural America.  Earlier this week, at the National Rural Water Association’s Water Rally, Prairie du Sac won the coveted gold medal as part of the Great American Water Taste Test.

USDA Rural Utilities Service Acting Administrator John Padalino served on the judging panel. Padalino administers USDA water and environmental programs. Read more »

Innovation Helps Fuel Growth for Winter Farmers Markets

A group finishes putting the outer skin on a hoop house in Michigan. The hoop house has helped local farmers lengthen the short Michigan growing season by two full months, giving them additional crops to sell at winter markets.  Photo courtesy Brittain Family Farms.

A group finishes putting the outer skin on a hoop house in Michigan. The hoop house has helped local farmers lengthen the short Michigan growing season by two full months, giving them additional crops to sell at winter markets. Photo courtesy Brittain Family Farms.

This is one of my favorite times of the year.  New and old traditions bring friends and family together to celebrate, cheer for their favorite football teams or just to share a hearty meal and some spirited conversations.  As the weather gets cooler, my family gravitates toward comfort foods and traditional family favorites, picking up fresh ingredients from our local winter farmers market. And, based on the growth in winter market listings this year, we’re not the only ones who have made this a part of our fall and winter traditions. Read more »

From Futile to Fertile: Midwest Farmers, Federal Partners Address Drought

Farmer Doug Goyings examines the drought-damaged corn on his farm in Paulding County, OH on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. USDA photo by Christina Reed.

Farmer Doug Goyings examines the drought-damaged corn on his farm in Paulding County, OH on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. USDA photo by Christina Reed.

The 2012 drought dried up more than just crops. For many U.S. farmers, it also dried up savings, material resources, and perhaps saddest of all, hope.

“The drought of course impacted our crop yields tremendously,” said veteran Ohio dairy farmer Leon Weaver. “Corn yields were about 50 percent of normal. Dairymen are exiting this business in droves.”

But for Weaver and nearly one hundred other Ohio, Michigan and Indiana farmers who gathered recently in rural Henry County, Ohio, hope was a commodity worth trading as they shared, in roundtable fashion, their ideas on how to access resources and rise from the dust. Read more »

USDA Funded Digester Reduces Pollution, Powers 1,500 Michigan Homes

USDA Rural Development Michigan State Director James Turner joined Senator Debbie Stabenow and local officials this summer in celebrating the opening of the largest commercial-scale anaerobic digester in the United States.

The Fremont Community Digester is an ambitious new use of a proven technology.  Once used chiefly in farms, anaerobic digesters are now coming into their own.

The facility will convert organic waste products – such as farm and food waste – and process it into biogas.  Approximately 1,500 local families will derive their power from this previously untapped energy source. Read more »

Helping Tribal College Students Excel in STEM

It’s shaping up to be a good year for students in Indian Country.

For the first time in school history, students at Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College in Mount Pleasant, Michigan can register to take physics thanks to an upgraded laboratory. And at Leech Lake Tribal College in Cass Lake, Minnesota, students were able to take trigonometry for the first time last year.  Funded and supported by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA ), both schools made  improvements to bolster their students’ learning in the areas of science and mathematics.

NIFA’s Tribal Colleges Education Equity Grant is a noncompetitive program that enhances educational opportunities for American Indians in the food and agricultural sciences.  These grants strengthen formal educational opportunities at the associate, baccalaureate, or graduate level at 1994 land-grant institutions, also known as tribal colleges. Read more »