Dr. Ellen Harris, Director of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center taking a look at the red leaf lettuce being grown at the 144 Acre Muirkirk Agricultural Experimentation.
This year I have had the pleasure of visiting a number of urban agriculture operations. From California to Cleveland, the ability of individuals to realize the multidimensional benefits of agricultural production and leverage them in an urban context has been nothing short of amazing.
This past week I visited a University that is heavily involved in both the research and extension aspect of urban agriculture — right in the backyard of the Department’s Washington, D.C. headquarters. The University of the District of Columbia’s (UDC) Muirkirk Agricultural Experimentation is located about 20 minutes north of the school’s D.C. campus. Upon arrival I found everything from activists passionate about learning how to best provide their neighbors with fresh produce, to researchers developing improved hydroponics systems; and even students working with community organizations on rice varieties suitable to be grown in urban areas. Read more »
Earlier this month, volunteers from USDA Rural Development (RD) and the Farm Service Agency (FSA) joined hands with representatives from the Six Nation Agricultural Society’s Indian Village to assist in preparations for the grounds use during the 2013 New York State Fair in Syracuse. The afternoon’s activities included painting, planting, raking and a tour of the grounds.
Cultural Transformation is a USDA initiative that strives to improve community relations, outreach opportunities, and encourage employees to achieve high standards. The initiative highlights how USDA is the People’s Department — and continues its commitment to improving customer service while creating a diverse, collaborative and highly effective workforce throughout the USDA’s many mission areas. Read more »
In the U.S., Hispanic households experience hunger at rates that are higher than the national average. According to USDA research, one out of every four Hispanic households in the U.S. is food insecure, compared with a national average of 15 percent. Hispanics also participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly the Food Stamp Program) at rates that are lower than the national average.
To call attention to this need to better reach the Latino population with access to nutrition assistance programs, USDA leadership participated in the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) annual conference in Washington DC from July 23-25. President Obama also gave a keynote speech at the conference, which had about 2,000 attendees. Read more »
Today marks the end of February, and National African American History Month, which has given us an opportunity to reflect on the value of the contributions made to our great nation by African Americans, and in particular, African American farmers and ranchers. To celebrate here in Washington, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) hosted an event on February 22 celebrating the life and work of African Americans who have made great contributions to the farming community, including the famous scientist, botanist, educator and inventor, George Washington Carver. Today, to round out National African American History Month, the Reverend Al Sharpton spoke to employees about “Civil Rights in the Age of Obama.” Read more »