Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visits Blue Ridge Produce in Elkwood, VA on Thursday, May 30, 2013. Blue Ridge Produce is a local food hub aggregating Virginia-grown fruits and vegetables for sale to wholesale customers in the Capitol region. (L to R Blue Ridge Produce Jim Epstein, Blue Ridge Produce Mark Seale, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack). USDA Photo by Bob Nichols.
Mark Seale got out of agriculture early. A Virginia native raised on the family farm, he didn’t see a future in the business once he finished high school – and his family didn’t argue with him.
But over the years, Mark found himself drawn back to agriculture in Virginia. Working with produce was something he’d grown up around, and a desire to do something in the industry was tugging at him. He returned to Virginia and opened Simply Fresh Produce, a retail outlet in Charlottesville. That’s where he met Jim Epstein, a real estate developer concerned about the disappearance of Virginia farmland. Jim knew that economically viable farms were the best buffer against development pressure and that smart development could in turn strengthen the local food system. So in 2010, Jim and Mark joined forces to build Blue Ridge Produce, a food hub in the rural community of Elkwood. Read more »
Secretary Vilsack renewed an historic agreement to accelerate the adoption of innovative waste-to-energy projects & energy efficiency improvements on U.S. dairy farms
Cross posted from The Huffington Post:
U.S. dairy producers are leading the way in productivity and innovation when it comes to sustainable practices. Earlier this afternoon, I joined Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy CEO Tom Gallagher to renew an historic agreement with the dairy industry to lower greenhouse gas emissions and to accelerate the adoption of innovative waste-to-energy projects on U.S. dairy farms which help producers diversify revenues and reduce utility expenses on their operations. Today’s extension of the Memorandum of Understanding is an acknowledgement of the dairy industry’s legacy of stewardship and its ongoing commitment to improve our farms. Read more »
As the USDA Rural Development State Director for Oregon, I’m aware of the significant economic benefits our programs have produced in partnership with rural communities, residents and businesses in every corner of my state. As I drove across the country during my recent vacation, I was curious to also see how visible the Agency’s support for place-appropriate, locally led efforts would be on my route from Oregon to Virginia. Knowing what to look for, I could easily identify the signs of rural economic and community development—even from my limited dashboard viewpoint—as I drove a transect path across the USDA Rural Development nationwide service area. Rural America accounts for 75 percent of the Nation’s land area, and that is where we work. Across the rural landscape, it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a community that hasn’t benefitted in some way from our support for affordable housing, business development, essential infrastructure, community facilities and clean, efficient energy. Read more »
At the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, state energy and extension staff are teaching farmers to use modern sensors to improve irrigation management. In this picture, Darrel Siekman and Gary Zoubek install Watermark Sensors and a data logger. | Photo courtesy of the University of Nebraska.
Cross posted from the Department of Energy blog:
Each year, urban households in the U.S. combined use more than three times the total energy that America’s rural households do. Yet, the Energy Information Administration estimates that rural families spend about $400 more per year in energy bills compared to the typical urban household. Unlocking new opportunities to save energy will help rural Americans save money, while improving our energy security, creating jobs and protecting our air and water. Read more »
Even in the most remote corners of America's countryside, USDA leaves a gentle, but lasting footprint as a champion of locally led, place-based rural economic and community development. You just have to know what you're looking for. USDA photo.
Have you ever been on vacation, but just couldn’t get away from your work? Me too. It seems everywhere I look I see the footprint of USDA Rural Development and its ties to rural revitalization. Because I love my job and the good work USDA is doing, I am thrilled each and every time I see the results of this collaborative work to stimulate economies, modernize infrastructure, and enhance the quality of life in rural America. Read more »
Using a first-of-its-kind steam boiler fueled by spent grain, the Alaskan Brewing Company in Juneau will reduce its use of fuel oil by over 65 percent. The boiler was funded in part through the USDA Rural Energy for America (REAP) Program. Photo credit: Alaska Brewing Company photo.
In Alaska, it’s all about great beer and the Alaska Brewing Company, LLC (ABC) in Juneau is the 12th largest craft brewery by sales volume in the U.S. According to their website, the Alaskan Brewing Company became the 67th operating brewery in the United States and the only brewery in Alaska in 1986. Read more »