Pennsylvania is among the country’s top ten states represented in the USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory. I recently completed a trip through the Fruit Belt to the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia to see how USDA’s support of farmers market development is impacting communities and helping farmers across the Keystone State.
My first stop was Camp Hill, a small town outside Harrisburg, to visit a new farmers market developed with the assistance of community organizations including Capital Resource and Conservation & Development Area Council (Capital RC&D). Capital RC&D received a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant to help farmers markets improve their consumer outreach and receive EBT and debit payments to expand micro-business opportunities for the area’s local farmers. The market, which just opened in May, is off to a great start with over a dozen vendors selling local bread, meat, dairy and produce from Pennsylvania’s fruit belt. Read more »
Pennsylvania USDA officials and retirees recently partnered with a local producer to donate huge boxes of cantaloupes and fresh-picked sweet corn as part of the 4th Annual 2012 Feds Feed Families Summer Food Drive. The food drive is a voluntary effort undertaken by federal employees around the country to collect and donate perishable and non-perishable goods to food pantries and banks in their communities.
Locally, USDA agencies are partnering with Henry and Brett Stehr, brothers who own and operate Kenny Stehr & Sons Fresh Fruits and Vegetables of Pitman, Schuylkill County. The brothers can be found every Tuesday and Friday with fresh, local produce at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex Farmer’s Market in Harrisburg. The Stehr brothers donated a box of fresh cantaloupe to the USDA food drive’s donation to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, and current USDA directors purchased an additional box from Stehr & Sons to add to the donation. On hand for the occasion were Terry Stehr (former Schuylkill County Farm Service Agency (FSA) County Director); Bill Foose (former Program Director for FSA); Thomas Williams, USDA Rural Development State Director; Tim Kinney, representing USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS); Kevin Pautler, National Agricultural Statistics Service; Brett Stehr of Kenny Stehr &Sons Fresh Fruits & Vegetables and Bill Wehry, USDA Farm Service Agency State Executive Director. Read more »
Shenandoah Patrolman Kirk Kirkland stands in front of his police cruiser in front of Borough Hall. An $18,240 Rural Development Community Facilities Economic Impact Initiative grant will help the Borough purchase a new four-wheel drive police cruiser to better serve the rural residents of Shenandoah.
With a new four-wheel drive police vehicle on the way to Pennsylvania’s rural Shenandoah Borough, local residents can rest assured that they will have a reliable emergency response vehicle as cold weather approaches. Congressman Tim Holden and USDA Rural Development State Director Thomas Williams visited the borough hall recently to make the official announcement. Read more »
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with constituents after his Investments in Rural Pennsylvania speech about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Proposed Energy Efficiency Rule at the Alleghany Electric Cooperative, Inc. Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association in Harrisburg, PA on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.
As Harrisburg, Penn., temperatures reached 93 degrees on Tuesday and continued to climb throughout the afternoon, it seemed an appropriate time for Secretary Tom Vilsack to announce a new proposed Federal Rule that could help rural homeowners and entrepreneurs save on their utility bills and create jobs in rural areas. The new energy efficiency effort will make federal loans available for rural electric cooperatives to re-lend to electric cooperative customers throughout America who want to make their homes and businesses more energy efficient. The partnership demonstrates a new “pathway to prosperity” according to Secretary Vilsack, and is “a reminder of President Obama’s commitment to stronger rural communities, a stronger rural economy, and strengthening rural values.” Read more »
Secretary Vilsack visited the Stoltzfus’ Pennwood Dairy Farms on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 to announce the United States Department of Agriculture’s energy efficiency programs and announced a new effort to help rural consumers make affordable, energy-efficient improvements to their homes and businesses. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.
On a muggy day in July, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited a Pennsylvania dairy farm that is using an anaerobic digester to convert manure into electricity and high quality bedding, cutting energy costs and providing a resting area for more contented cows. The digester, which went on-line a year ago, was funded in part with the support of USDA Rural Development. Read more »
Pennsylvania Rural Development State Director Tom Williams (far left) and Acting Administrator for Rural Business Services John Padalino (far right), celebrated National Homeownership Month with Rural Development Housing Loan Recipient Willie Hall and his family at their new home in Chambersburg.
Willie Hall and his family are enjoying the American Dream and USDA Rural Development has been with him along the way. Willie was a tenant at Roxbury Ridge Apartments, a Rural Development Multi-Family Housing complex in Shippensburg for many years. He recently accepted a full time position and took the step forward from rental housing to homeownership with the help of a Rural Development Direct low interest home loan. Willie and his family of five are now settled into a 3-bedroom home in a quiet Chambersburg suburb. Read more »