Flooding and water damage in the Park and Tongue River Watersheds located in Cavalier, Pembina and Cavalaier Counties in North Dakota on Thursday, May 23, 2013. USDA photo by Keith Weston.
Weather dominates the conversation at local coffee shops and community gathering locations across the Northern Plains. Depending on the time of the year, I’ve heard things like this:
“We sure could use rain – really dry out there. Cattle are going to have to come off the pastures soon.”
“Hoping the rain will break here for a few days so I can get the hay cut without it getting rained on this time.” Read more »
Gretchen Fitzgerald, forester on the San Juan National Forest in Colorado, checks the health of an eight-year-old ponderosa pine that has regenerated naturally on burned slopes west of Vallecito Reservoir. Some of the national forest where natural regeneration is lacking across the reservoir behind her will be replanted in 2015. (U.S. Forest Service/Ann Bond)
Decades ago, ripe cones were plucked from the tops of conifer trees in the San Juan National Forest and sent to Nebraska for storage in a U.S. Forest Service nursery. This winter, tiny seeds from those cones have been sown in the nursery with the big mission of returning home to create new forests in southwestern Colorado.
Donations to the San Juan National Forest Plant-A-Tree Program will help return the little trees to their native environment in 2015, when 250 acres burned by the 72,000-acre Missionary Ridge Fire will be replanted.
“We’ll plant limber pine seedlings in the more rocky areas,” said San Juan National Forest Forester Gretchen Fitzgerald. “Douglas fir will be tucked into north- and east-facing slopes because they like cooler, moister conditions. Ponderosa pines can go just about anywhere; they’re very drought tolerant.” Read more »
USDA Farm to School grants help get healthy, local foods into schools and teach children where their food comes from. (Photo Credit: Kelly Campbell)
I just spent the morning calling people who had applied to receive a USDA Farm to School grant. They were fun calls to make as I was letting this year’s awardees know their project had been selected for funding.
Today USDA announced awards for 71 projects spanning 42 states and the District of Columbia that support USDA’s efforts to connect school cafeterias with local farmers and ranchers through its Farm to School program.
USDA Farm to School grants help schools respond to the growing demand for locally sourced foods and increase market opportunities for producers and food businesses, including food processors, manufacturers, and distributors. Grants will also be used to support agriculture and nutrition education efforts such as school gardens, field trips to local farms, and cooking classes. Selected projects will serve more than 13,000 schools and 2.8 million students, nearly 45 percent of whom live in rural communities. Projects are diverse: Read more »
Michael Scuse, Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services, listens to those impacted by the Atlas Blizzard in South Dakota.
Farmers and ranchers know many variables are sometimes not in their hands, especially when it comes to weather. That’s why USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Senator Tim Johnson asked me to travel to South Dakota this week to see firsthand the widespread destruction to livestock in the wake of the Atlas Blizzard, and to consult with affected producers on how USDA can help right now – - despite two years of Congressional inaction on the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill.
When I joined one farmer in his living room, learning how his livestock losses, including pregnant stock, meant years of income gone, I thought of Congress, how it lurches from one crisis to the next, and how that legislative atrophy creates real consequences beyond just American farmers but for entire rural communities. Read more »
It’s a big deal when you’ve just graduated from a small town high school in Western Nebraska to make a trip to Washington, D.C. It’s especially a big deal when you get to sit in the office of the Administrator of the Farm Service Agency while in D.C. and share your thoughts.
Spencer Hartman made the trip recently. He sat with FSA Administrator Juan M. Garcia and Deputy Administrator for Farm Loan Programs Chris Beyerhelm. He was joined by colleague Bryce Doeschot, also a Nebraska native but from the opposite side of the state. They talked about farming. Read more »
Rural communities carry with them a long line of history. St. John’s Catholic Church in Table Rock, Nebraska was built in 1877 and is one of the oldest churches in Southeast Nebraska. The church has large murals covering the interior that were painted by a displaced immigrant from Russia in appreciation for refuge in the small community. He used his artistic talents to create on plain wallboard an illusion of marble walls, pillars, and curtains. Most striking is the large mural behind the altar. Some of the original pews and church furniture remain and the Church’s interior is as it was when used for religious services.
The Table Rock Historical Society and Museum, Inc. wanted to preserve the church’s history with the creation of St. John’s Catholic Church Museum where the art and beauty of the church could be admired. Read more »