U.S. Christmas tree growers harvested and sold 20 million trees last year, up 55 percent in 5 years.
From the smell of fresh pine, to the vibrant colors of poinsettias, the holiday season is the perfect time of year to spotlight America’s horticulture growers through the just released 2014 Census of Horticultural Specialties report. I’ve experienced firsthand how unique and amazing this industry is by working nationwide with producers and stakeholders as USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics (NASS) nursery and floriculture commodity specialist.
For example, did you know farmers can invest more than 8 years growing a Christmas tree for harvest? While there are not many producers dedicated to this work, according to our latest report industry sales grew. In 2014, there were 3,386 Christmas tree producers in the United States. That year there were a total of 20 million cut Christmas trees sold, valued at $367 million in sales. This was a significant increase from the last report in 2009, when only 13 million trees were cut and sold for a total of $250 million. Read more »
2015 was another banner year for innovative Federal / Tribal partnerships, government-to-government relations with Federally Recognized Tribes and investments that continue to improve the quality of life for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Here are five examples from this past year of ways USDA and this Administration have built on their deep commitment to improving our working relationships with Tribes and helping them meet unique challenges facing tribal communities head-on. Read more »
Cherokee Central Schools students participate in a hands-on lesson in the school’s garden, which is planted with traditional varieties of vegetables grown for generations by the Cherokee people.
In celebration of Native American Heritage Month, guest blog writer Katie Rainwater, also a FoodCorps Service Member, shares her remarkable experience at Cherokee Central Schools, a 2014 USDA Farm to School Grantee.
Guest blog by Katie Rainwater, FoodCorps
Imagine this: A bright, sunny fall day in the Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. Fresh, organic greens, lovingly raised in Cherokee Central Schools’ garden, and harvested that same day. Now add 22 elementary students proudly waving signs and banners they decorated the day before, boasting the beauty of their garden bounty, and advertising their Fall Greens Sale. If you ever bought into the idea that “kids don’t like vegetables,” our elementary schoolers could have changed your mind that day. Stationed in front of the school during after-school pick-up time, every car and person within reach received a glowing description of the wondrous greens the students helped grow, the most popular being a local native variety called Creasy Greens. Bedecked in fruit and vegetable costumes, these kids were convincing adults that they should eat their veggies! As a genuine testament to their enthusiasm and love for their harvest, they sold almost all of the 321 pounds of greens harvested that day. Read more »
Ed Spence retired from the U.S. Marine Corps and moved back home to North Carolina with his wife Sheila to farm. The FSA microloan helped Spence purchase a plastic mulcher and seed and fertilizer for two years.
Growing up on a farm in Kipling, North Carolina, Edward Spence thought the one thing he was not going to do as an adult was farm.
“It was hard work from sunup to sundown and there was no reward for it because we didn’t own the land,” said Spence, whose parents were sharecroppers. “We had a place to live and a small plot to grow the food we ate, but there was no financial reward, nothing tangible.”
That all changed when “life happened,” said Spence. After losing two brothers in the Vietnam War, Spence volunteered — when others were drafted — to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps and fight for his country. Read more »
The cover of the new Guide for Farmers Markets on Military Installations, which is filled with effective strategies to bring farmers markets’ community spirit and local food to service members and their families stationed at installations across the country.
As we take time this week to honor America’s veterans, we are also thinking about how we can improve the health and welfare of military communities across the country. That’s why we are so proud to release the first-ever Guide for Farmers Markets on Military Installations. By assisting military installations in establishing farmers markets, the guide will help increase access to fresh, local food for soldiers on military installations. On-base farmers markets also connect members of the military with their surrounding communities and offer family-friendly gathering places where children can learn where their food comes from.
In a truly collaborative effort, my agency, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), created this detailed manual with the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD) Healthy Base Initiative (HBI), and in partnership with Wholesome Wave. It explains how commanders can establish and successfully operate farmers markets on military installations. Read more »
A warehouse of forest products. Photo credit: Joel Prince courtesy National Association of State Foresters.
The following guest blog is part of a series featuring the Forest Service’s work with partners on restoration across the country.
By Scott Bissette, Assistant Commissioner of the North Carolina Forest Service and chair of the National Association of State Foresters Forest Markets Committee
Our forests are renewable and vital resources when sustainably managed. From paper products such as food packaging and tissue paper, to lumber used for our homes and furniture, trees in our forests provide items we use every day.
Strong markets for these forest products are needed to restore many of our forests and ensure they continue to be managed and are healthy for future generations. That’s why all Americans should support National Forest Products Week from October 18-24, 2015. Read more »