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Posts tagged: Michigan

Extra! Extra Samples Feed Families in Need!

“Thank you for the generous donations of produce that you have given to assist us with our outreach mission. With your help we are able to provide food for needy senior citizens,” said Denise Smartt Sears from St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in New Rochelle, NY.

“Thank you for the generous donations of produce that you have given to assist us with our outreach mission. With your help we are able to provide food for needy senior citizens,” said Denise Smartt Sears from St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in New Rochelle, NY.

It is a simple idea. If you have more than you need, share with those who don’t have enough.  An estimated 50 million Americans do not have access to enough food. So what can be done? Amazing things can happen when you implement a simple idea by combining a love of agriculture and commitment to community with a government program.

For over 10 years, samplers working for the Pesticide Data Program, a part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, have been donating excess food from their samples to local organizations including food banks, homeless shelters, senior citizens centers, battered women shelters, and churches.  The Program requires samples of fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products at markets and chain store distribution centers throughout the country for testing and analysis of pesticide residues on agricultural commodities in the U.S. food supply. Read more »

Saving the Government Money, Ecologist Also Helps With Complex Wetland Restoration

Paul Rutledge provides scale by standing near a large Yellow Birch found on the Trapp Farm Nature Preserve Wetland Reserve Program project. (NRCS photo/Kathy Ryan)

Paul Rutledge provides scale by standing near a large Yellow Birch found on the Trapp Farm Nature Preserve Wetland Reserve Program project. (NRCS photo/Kathy Ryan)

Dr. Paul Rutledge was recently honored with a National Individual Volunteer Award for his contributions to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Earth Team.

Earth Team is a volunteer workforce that helps NRCS maintain and improve natural resources on private lands. Out of the 19,075 Earth Team volunteers across the nation, only four individuals received this award this year. Read more »

Great Lakes Greenhouse Gives Native Plants a Second Chance

Volunteers help harvest native seedlings at the Hiawatha National Forest greenhouse in Marquette, Mich. U.S. Forest Service photo.

Volunteers help harvest native seedlings at the Hiawatha National Forest greenhouse in Marquette, Mich. U.S. Forest Service photo.

Biologists have long recognized the important role native plants play in maintaining a healthy forest. When native plants are crowded out by invasive plants, those native species can suffer to the point of extinction.

Since the early 1990s, the Hiawatha National Forest has operated a greenhouse in Marquette, Mich. The idea is to provide both native seeds and seedlings for successful restoration of sites impacted by logging or disturbed by other land management activities. For instance, when aging culverts are replaced, native plants can be introduced to re-vegetate disturbed soil. Seeds and seedlings are also used to enhance existing wildlife habitats. Read more »

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 »