Nocturne, a winter-hardy, black-fruited blueberry developed by ARS. USDA-ARS photo by Mark Ehlenfeldt.
This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.
You probably don’t think there’s anything special about picking up a tub of fresh blueberries at the store or the farmers market—the quality of the product, the freshness and the convenience of it all. If only you had to go pick the fruit from the wild yourself!
Up until 1911, blueberries had to be picked from the wild, and bushes were dug from the wild that might or might not survive when transplanted elsewhere. True domestication—reproduction at the will of the grower and breeding to improve desirable traits—was beyond reach until USDA botanist Frederick Coville unlocked a longstanding mystery in 1910. Read more »
The donation of Important Soils of the United States, Bureau of Soils, 1916, was highlighted in a ceremony hosted at the National Agricultural Library in Beltsville, Maryland. Pictured are (l to r): Susan Fugate, Head of Special Collections, NAL; Sally Schneider, ARS Deputy Administrator, Natural Resources & Sustainable Agricultural Systems; Stan Kosecki, Acting Director, NAL; Jill Guenther, Schoolteacher; Kirk Hanlin, USDA-NRCS Assistant Chief, and David Smith, USDA-NRCS Deputy Chief of Soil Science and Resource Assessment (SSRA). USDA photo by Anson Eaglin.
Thanks to the efforts of a dedicated science teacher from New Jersey, a valuable piece of soil science history is now available for viewing and research among the special collections at USDA’s National Agricultural Library (NAL) in Beltsville, Maryland.
Jill Guenther, who has taught Earth and space science for 29 years, discovered the antique soils collection tucked away in a classroom cabinet. “I knew it was something special, and I wanted to use it as a display when teaching erosion and conservation issues,” she explained. Read more »
Michael McCarthy used an FSA Microloan to help expand his clam business.
Raising clams was always a part of Michael McCarthy’s life — until Sept. 11, 2001.
McCarthy was working with the New York/New Jersey Harbor relay program, purging and harvesting clams, when terrorists crashed two airplanes into the World Trade Center. “You could look across the water and see the towers. That was my motivation. We were shut down for a couple of weeks and that’s when I decided to join the Marines. I knew I wasn’t going to do it for the rest of my life, but I felt like I did something to help a little bit.” Read more »
G.R.A.C.E Memorial in Glen Rock, New Jersey, is in Veterans Park directly across from the town's commuter train station. The site was chosen by the Glen Rock Assistance Council and Endowment after input of family members in the community directly affected by 9/11. (Courtesy Living Memorials Project National Registry)
Living memorials serve as a reminder of fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends—but also of the power of community to reflect, rebuild and renew. Our research suggests that living memorials demonstrate the role of nature in contemporary times not only as a symbol, but as an innate and purposeful response to loss that calls forth a common humanity and compassion for others.
In other words, they demonstrate how people use nature to be resilient to loss. Read more »
AMS Fruit and Vegetable Program Deputy Administrator Charles Parrott and AMS Fruit and Vegetable Program Research and Promotion Program Director Heather Pichelman (right) enjoy the blueberry celebration at the USDA Farmers Market. They stopped by the Blueberry Council’s booth to meet Melissa Mowery (second from left) and Toni Austin (second from right), representatives from the Blueberry Council’s Public Relations team.
They often say big things come in small packages. That is the case for the highbush blueberry, a fruit that is only small in stature. July is National Blueberry Month and people all over the world are busy enjoying blueberry-inspired fruit salads, smoothies, and other refreshing foods. In addition to this month-long celebration, blueberry fans have another reason to get excited – the 100th anniversary of commercial blueberries.
The blueberry’s journey from farm to table began in 1916 in Whitesbog, N.J., when Elizabeth White teamed up with USDA botanist Frederick Coville to go against conventional wisdom and breed a variety of wild blueberries to be sold on the market. The blueberry’s 100-year history contains many milestones. This includes being named the official state berry of New Jersey, an iconic appearance in the classic Willy Wonka movie, and being planted in the White House kitchen garden. Read more »
In Washington DC? Bring your dancing shoes and join the USDA Farmers Market at Night on Friday, July 17 from 5 to 8 PM! (Click to enlarge)
If you’re in the Washington, DC-area on Friday, July 17, join us between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. outside USDA Headquarters at 12th and Independence Avenue, S.W., near the Smithsonian Metro stop. Bring your dancing shoes, friends and appetite. We’ll be holding the third in a series of 6 monthly USDA Farmers Market at Night. The July night market’s “Hot & Cold” theme will feature Brazilian Music, local food trucks and free blueberry ice cream.
Farmers markets across the country are gathering places where local food producers are building successful businesses and bringing fresh, local food to neighborhoods across the country. As the demand for local food continues to increase, farmers markets are maturing from small stands to entertainment destinations with extended hours, live music, and a variety of local products. Read more »