Under Secretary Avalos with fresh apples from the USDA Farmers Market. Share your favorite local ingredients by mentioning @AMS_USDA and using the #LocalisCool hashtag.
No one would ever accuse me of being a trend-setter—especially my kids. But I’m proud to say that I’ve been part of the local food movement my whole life. I grew up on a family farm in New Mexico. For us, local food wasn’t really a trend or a movement. It was how we made our living. By growing, raising and selling our food throughout the year, we connected to other farmers, ranchers and our neighbors.
More American families are making a conscious decision to eat healthier and buy local foods. Many farmers and producers are combining their hard work with innovative practices like hoop houses and new marketing opportunities like food hubs. These are two examples of modern approaches that are helping extend growing and selling seasons and bringing farmers and suppliers together to meet the increasing demand for local foods. Read more »
If you are a regular USDA blog reader, you’ve heard about the new Farm to School Census, which shows the national farm to school footprint down to the school district level. With farm to school purchases topping $350 million across the country and over 38,000 schools nationwide participating in farm to school activities, local food is making marks in schools.
But who produces all that local food? How does the food make it from the farm to the lunch tray? How are farmers and ranchers getting the support they need to take advantage of this, and other, blossoming local food market opportunities? What role does the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and our federal partners play in the local food system? Read more »
The Ohio River Foundation crewmembers Lydia Cook, Rose Guardino, Rose Johnson, Catherine Kagemann, Callie Schulenburg, and Brynne Taylor build a pollinator habitat. USFS Photo.
Streams will flow more freely and bees will have a new home on the Hoosier National Forest, thanks to the work of six young women from central Indiana.
The women — recent high school graduates from Bloomington High School North and South, a high school senior from Bedford, Ind., and an Indiana University student – spent three weeks in July working on ecological restoration projects in the forest.
The crew was hired by the Ohio River Foundation and funded through grants from Duke Energy-Indiana, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Read more »
The Wilds’ 60-acre demonstration site showcases a variety of native grasses.
Yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Natural Resources Conservation Chief Jason Weller announced 33 Conservation Innovation Grants awarded to entities across the nation to develop and demonstrate cutting-edge ideas to accelerate private lands conservation.
As the chief said during a media call with the secretary, “The Conservation Innovation Grant program brings together the strength and innovation of the private and non-profit sectors, academia, producers and others to develop and test cutting-edge conservation tools and technologies and work side-by-side with producers to demonstrate how solutions work on the land.” Read more »
Adam McCurry, Agricultural Technician for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Yancey County conducts a lesson about local apple varieties before taking students outside to plant an apple tree at Bald Creek Elementary School in Burnsville, North Carolina. (Photo courtesy of Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, Asheville, North Carolina)
Kids are headed back to school and so are county Extension agents.
As schools continue to teach kids where their food comes from and bring local and regional products into the school cafeteria, one group they may want to partner with on their farm to school activities is their local or regional Cooperative Extension office. Cooperative Extension Systems are administered by each state’s Land-Grant University System. Programs are available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. and most states have local or regional Extension offices that are staffed by one or more experts, often referred to as Extension agents or Extension educators.
Nationally, more and more Cooperative Extension Systems are devoting key resources to supporting farm to school activities. Of the 68 fiscal year 2013 USDA Farm to School Grants distributed, 25 percent included partners from Cooperative Extension. State Extension Systems such as Ohio, Minnesota, and Illinois have already dedicated resources and personnel to leading their states farm to school programs. And at the upcoming national Extension conference, farm to school and local foods are sure to be a major themes discussed. Read more »
In agriculture, we talk a lot about sustainability. As a method of growing crops, caring for ecosystems like forests or wetlands, or even the economic sustainability of businesses—we look at this word from all angles. But there’s another component to consider: cultural sustainability.
As a nation of immigrants, we have many rich and complex influences woven into the history of our country. Foods we eat, holidays we celebrate, how we create goods or perform services—these are all things that are shaped by the cultural identities of our families and the communities around us.
For many communities, farmers markets are playing a pivotal role in maintaining and enabling these cultural ties. Read more »