Both of us grew up in small towns, Kathleen in Greenfield, MA and Bob in Ancram, NY. From our own experiences, we understand the challenges and the importance of a strong rural economy.
We recently visited Brevard, a town of about 6,000 people in North Carolina’s Transylvania County. While there we held a White House Rural Council meeting at the Transylvania County Library with leadership from the Land-of-Sky Regional Council, the regional economic development commission AdvantageWest, business leaders from Asheville and Brevard, and several local elected officials. We released a report from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities, at Brevard College, which focuses on how the federal government can help rural areas to be economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable. Read more »
Students at the Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Cherokee practice their choreography for a new student-produced fitness video. (Photo courtesy of Holly Krake/OJCCCC)
Pop music star Beyonce recently partnered with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to create the Let’s Move! Flash Workout. The Oconaluftee Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Cherokee, N.C. has embraced the Let’s Move! concept, and launched a Healthy Eating and Active Lifestyles program. Oconaluftee has gotten behind this national movement by producing a student fitness video using the music and choreography of the Let’s Move! Flash Workout. Read more »
This week I joined Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on a tour of North Carolina and Virginia to assess areas damaged by Hurricane Irene and to discuss ways USDA can help residents recover.
Secretary Napolitano and I had the opportunity to see farmland devastated by the hurricane as well as speak with first responders, local officials, and residents about recovery efforts. It was encouraging to see communities pulling together to recover from these devastating circumstances. Read more »
In an intense around-the-clock operation, more than 60,000 worker bees have churned out 30 pounds of raw honey from a USDA laboratory in Gastonia, N.C.
The People’s Garden Initiative beehives are managed by the staff of National Science Laboratory (NSL), a part of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). To support the 2011 Feds Feed Families initiative the team has donated all of the honey to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina, which encompasses the Charlotte, N.C., metropolitan area.
The honey is a product of local poplar and Tupelo trees. In a process known as centrifuge extraction, the sweet nectar was spun from honeycomb and then poured into 1-pound bottles and labeled as shown below. Read more »
Dr. Shirley Heymon-Parker and Dr. Ralph Nobel at at the North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in Greensboro, NC
Throughout the country, many schools and communities are teaching the importance of environmental stewardship, energy conservation, and reducing waste through innovation and creativity. I came across one of these places recently at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University in Greensboro, NC, the nation’s largest Historically Black College. Their School of Agriculture and Environmental Science has embraced the Obama Administration’s commitment to protecting the air we breathe, water quality, and land that supports and sustains us. Read more »
As Associate Administrator of USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA), one of my duties is to lead all-employee meetings with the Agency’s field offices across the country. During my travel, I often visit local projects and success stories in agriculture that have connections with USDA projects. Recently, I visited one of RMA’s outreach partners in Raleigh, North Carolina— the Longview School and Inter-faith Food Shuttle.
RMA is funding this unique urban agriculture project through a current partnership agreement with the North Carolina Farm Transition Network. The project, in coordination with Patrick Faulkner, Longview FFA Chapter, and Sun Butler of Inter-faith Food Shuttle, provides hands-on training for students and the community on managing risks associated with gardening and horticulture, improving health, building collaborations, reducing hunger, and potentially, enhancing career skills related to the local food system and the food value chain. As a part of this project, Mr. Faulkner has taken students to on two field trips for educational purposes: A national workshop on growing food at Growing Power in Milwaukee, Wis., with Will Allen, and a trip to Washington, D.C., for the National FFA Leadership Conference. Read more »