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 »
That's an "almost home" smile! Photo of Maj. Matt McCoppin, USDA employee, taken at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Photo courtesy: Matt Branson. Photos used with permission.
As we mark the Independence Day holiday, it’s an important time to remember the honorable service of our nation’s active duty and reserve service members, and our veterans. More than 10,000 veterans are on our team at USDA – and still more are currently serving in National Guard and Reserve units around the country. The Ohio Rural Development office recently shared stories of two employees currently serving.
For many USDA employees, “moonlighting” means late nights on the tractor or in the barn. It’s hard work that offers great personal reward. Likewise, two Ohio Rural Development team members recently undertook a special kind of second job: one that, a little like farming, entails great discipline and family sacrifice. Read more »
West Virginia State Director Bobby Lewis and others visited Tucker County High School near Hambleton West Virginia as part of ARC’s tour through Appalachia. The group met with local educators and students to discuss the farm to school program; school, community and industry relationships; local farmers markets and greenhouse and high tunnel operation. While there, the group toured a high tunnel currently under construction. Photo Credit: Savanna Lyons of the WV Food & Farm Coalition
West Virginia and Appalachian Ohio have a lot in common beyond their shared state border. With a strong agricultural heritage, these vast rural areas are known for their forest and timber industries, and they are integrating food systems into local economic development.
Earlier this month, I joined Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Co-Chair Earl Gohl and Ohio’s State Rural Development Director Tony Logan to take a look at local food in the Buckeye state. My colleague, Deputy Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Joani Walsh, recently made a similar trip to West Virginia. Organized by ARC, the visits were an opportunity to discuss how local food is diversifying the economy, developing a more competitive workforce and generating opportunities within regions like Appalachia. “Through our work on the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative, we know that there are lots of ways that local foods are providing economic opportunities in rural communities,” said Walsh. “These visits with ARC gave us a clearer picture of how that is happening in Appalachia.” Read more »
LOACH 990’s crew reunites at the dedication of the exhibit at the Motts Military Museum, Groveport, OH.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and its Wildlife Services (WS) program were privileged to assist in placing a light observation helicopter (LOH-6A), but affectionately called a LOACH by service members, on long-term loan at the Mott’s Military Museum in Groveport, Ohio.
Talking with the excited aircrew of Vietnam veterans, it’s clear a special relationship develops between an aircraft, its pilot, and crew, especially during war. Read more »
“Thank you for the generous donations of produce that you have given to assist us with our outreach mission. With your help we are able to provide food for needy senior citizens,” said Denise Smartt Sears from St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in New Rochelle, NY.
It is a simple idea. If you have more than you need, share with those who don’t have enough. An estimated 50 million Americans do not have access to enough food. So what can be done? Amazing things can happen when you implement a simple idea by combining a love of agriculture and commitment to community with a government program.
For over 10 years, samplers working for the Pesticide Data Program, a part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, have been donating excess food from their samples to local organizations including food banks, homeless shelters, senior citizens centers, battered women shelters, and churches. The Program requires samples of fruits, vegetables and other agricultural products at markets and chain store distribution centers throughout the country for testing and analysis of pesticide residues on agricultural commodities in the U.S. food supply. Read more »