Earlier this week, USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Doug O’Brien met with local and regional officials in Mississippi to discuss ways USDA can help businesses create jobs and stimulate local economies. Mississippi was one of the first states in the nation to be designated a StrikeForce state by USDA and last Tuesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will launch its “StrikeForce” initiative in ten additional states.
The primary goal of the StrikeForce initiative is to increase partnership with rural communities and leverage community resources in targeted, persistent poverty areas. Vilsack noted that through the StrikeForce initiative, USDA will do more to partner with local and state governments and community organizations on projects that promote economic development and job creation. Read more »
Nathan Cann volunteers at Hollygrove Market and Farm (HGMF) in exchange for a box of fresh produce valued at $25.00 in New Orleans, LA on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013. USDA photo by Karen Lawson.
New Orleans is known for many special things, not the least of which is its food.
That’s why Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan chose the crescent city this week to release a new report on the importance of food hubs in America. The report finds that there is an increasing demand for fresh, local foods and the popularity of food hubs is growing quickly. In fact, there are well over 200 across the country now, including Hollygrove Farm and Market in downtown New Orleans. Read more »
The inside of the newly restored courthouse and the attendees at the Grand Opening Ceremony. USDA photos.
In 2009, Bolivar County, Mississippi, Administrator William Hooker and a board-delegated crew of local leaders traveled to meet with members of Congress in Washington, D.C., to rally for the financial support to restore the Bolivar County courthouse in Rosedale, MS. They received funding for the project and on April 2, 2012 a ground breaking ceremony was held for the First Judicial District Courthouse located in Rosedale. USDA Rural Development awarded a $350,000 Recovery Act Community Facilities grant. The project also received a $350,000 Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Economic Grant, a $300,000 grant from the MS Department of Archives and History, and $300,000 from the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors. A majority of the money went towards improving the building’s weakening foundation. Installing a new roof and a number of interior retouches were also big parts of the restoration. Read more »
Almost three years ago, two biology professors at Delta State University in Mississippi brainstormed how to give science undergraduates research experience in microbiology and entomology.
They hit upon the idea of searching for “science gold” in the bellies of bugs.
Professors Tanya McKinney and Ellen Green received $40,000 through a grant for under-represented colleges from the U.S. Forest Service to help with the project. As part of their research experience, students in the program search the guts of beetle larvae to discover new cellulases, enzymes that break down cellulose, an organic compound that helps make plant cell walls rigid.
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Earlier this month, all Mississippi agencies and staff were invited to participate in USDA’s Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service by volunteering two hours of their time to a non-profit organization of their choice. Three USDA Rural Development Mississippi State Office employees, Jennifer Jimerson, Ericka Butler, and Michelle Wilkerson volunteered at Stewpot Community Services in Jackson, serving meals for lunch.
The very heart of Stewpot is the noon meal its staff and volunteers serve each day of the year. This meal serves as the center of each day as well as the heart of the Stewpot philosophy. Rich and poor, black and white … all God’s children come together over a nourishing meal. More than 120 people a day are physically and spiritually fed in the community kitchen and 50 meals are delivered to shut-ins in the area. Volunteers are always needed to lend a hand in the Stewpot Community Kitchen. Read more »
Variano Suarez (right) worked with NRCS Supervisory District Conservationist Kelvin Jackson and other staff members to plant native legumes on his land, providing food and shelter for dove and other wildlife.
Variano “Chino” Suarez manages four restaurants in Mississippi. You could say that he appreciates his free time more than most. When it’s time to unwind, Suarez retreats to his forest acres in the red clay hills of eastern Mississippi. Here, wildlife thrives and ponds are filled with bream and bass. Read more »