The term “farm to preschool” encompasses efforts to serve local or regionally produced foods in early child care and education settings; provide hands-on learning activities such as gardening, farm visits, and culinary activities; and integrate food-related education into the curriculum. Here, USDA Undersecretary of Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services Kevin Concannon participates in a hands-on lesson about local foods at a YMCA preschool in West Seattle, WA.
“May I have more kale chips, please?” asked a four-year old preschooler during one of my first site visits as farm to school lead for the Food and Nutrition Service’s Western Region. The preschoolers I was visiting grew and harvested the kale themselves a few feet beyond their classroom door and were enjoying the crisp treat as a snack. At the time, the USDA Farm to School Program was just beginning to expand their support to K-12 schools. Since then, I have worked with school districts in bringing the farm to their cafeterias and classrooms.
Our reasons for supporting farm to preschool are numerous. While the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 authorized the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to establish the Farm to School Program, the legislation also expanded the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) to not only aid child care institutions in serving nutritious foods, but to contribute to their wellness, healthy growth and development. Farm to preschool meets that requirement, and is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a strategy to increase access to healthy environments. As evidenced by the eager kale chip request, farm to preschool efforts can set the stage for a lifetime of healthy eating. Read more »
Gayle Goschie, a third generation Oregon farmer at Goschie Farms, Inc., stands in a hop yard at her farm in Silverton, Oregon. Goschie Farms was the first hop farm to be certified as Salmon-Safe, recognized for adopting practices that protect water quality and native salmon.
As part of our ongoing #womeninag series, we are highlighting a different leading woman in agriculture each month. This month, we profile Gayle Goschie, a third-generation hop grower on a farm her family has owned in Silverton, Oregon, for 130 years. Goschie Farms grows 550 acres of hops and sells to some of the nation’s top breweries. The farm also grows 150 acres of wine grapes that are sold to regional wineries and 300+ acres of other crops including grass seed, corn and wheat.
Gayle was the first woman hop grower to be awarded the International Order of the Hop in 2009, the highest honor in the International hop community and an award which her father also received in 1984. We talked about her love for the outdoors, including the beautiful hikes she takes in the Willamette Valley. She strongly believes in our responsibility to conserve and improve our lands not only as good business sense but critical to building future farm leaders. Read more »
A watershed in the Stanislaus National Forest, located in the Sierra Nevada region of California. Photo credit: US Forest Service
The mission of the Forest Service is to “sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.” The provisioning of water resources – notably clean drinking water and flood control – is central to this. Growing demand for our water resources, spurred by population growth, and the effects of climate change further challenge the Forest Service to successfully meet the needs of present and future generations.
In the western United States – where water flowing from national forests makes up nearly two-thirds of public and commercial water supplies – water scarcity and wildfire threats have galvanized diverse stakeholders to invest in healthy headwaters. Local communities, public utility companies, businesses, non-governmental organizations and state and local agencies are investing in watershed restoration to avoid catastrophic economic losses. Read more »
The Oregon Chub. (Courtesy of the Natural Resources Conservation Service)
The Oregon Chub is making waves in history. This February, it became the first fish to be delisted from the Endangered Species List because of recovery (not extinction).
This success is directly attributable to more than 20 years of hard work by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), private landowners and other conservation partners.
While many people were involved in the recovery effort, the USFWS recognized 12 professionals who represent outstanding leadership in their respective agencies to recover the species. These individuals were honored during a “Recovery Champions” awards ceremony May 28 at the Finley National Wildlife Refuge in Corvallis, Oregon. Read more »
A recent survey commissioned by WAFWA shows lesser prairie-chicken numbers climbed 25 percent between 2014 and 2015. NRCS photo.
The population of the lesser prairie-chicken is on the rise, according to survey results released last week by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA). Based on aerial surveys, biologists estimate the lesser prairie-chicken numbers about 29,000, a 25 percent increase from 2014.
WAFWA commissioned the annual survey, which showed increases in three of the four ecoregions the bird inhabits. The sand sage prairie region of southeastern Colorado showed the biggest gain with about a 75 percent increase between 2014 and 2015. Read more »
In honor of National Homeownership Month, USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker (center with wheelbarrow), U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici (center with level), local nonprofit Community Action Team (CAT), and community leaders join first-time homeowners Jessica and Jason Smith (far right)
Jessica and Jason Smith used to watch home improvement shows in which old and deteriorating houses are completely renovated. They never thought they’d be the ones giving a neglected home new life—until now. While building their dream of homeownership, they are quite literally helping revitalize a neighborhood.
Last week in honor of National Homeownership Month, I joined U.S. Representative Suzanne Bonamici, local nonprofit Community Action Team (CAT), and community leaders to meet the Smiths at their work-in-progress in St. Helens, Oregon. Jessica and Jason participate in CAT’s Self-help Acquisition Rehabilitation Program (SHARP) funded with support from USDA Rural Development. The effort allows families to use their own sweat equity as down payment on a home and provides an affordable USDA mortgage for the balance. As the local partner, CAT receives USDA Mutual Self-help Housing grant funds to qualify families, identify home sites, and coordinate professional construction assistance. Read more »