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Posts tagged: Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Thanksgiving – Brought to You by the American Farmer

An infographic exploring the traditional Thanksgiving meal, brought to you by the American Farmer. Click to see a larger version.

An infographic exploring the traditional Thanksgiving meal, brought to you by the American Farmer. Click to see a larger version.

Thanksgiving is a time when Americans come together to celebrate a holiday that connects each and every one of us. During this truly American holiday, we all give thanks for the previous year’s blessings and look ahead to the future. While we may bring our own traditions and flavors to the table, Thanksgiving is a time for all of us to celebrate our country’s rich history.

It has always been a special holiday to me, but this past year I developed an even greater appreciation for all that goes in to producing the Thanksgiving meal. As Administrator of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), I spent the last six months visiting with American farmers and learning about their businesses. In my conversations with American farmers and ranchers, I am always impressed by their work ethic, ingenuity, and dedication to making sure their customers get the best products. It’s no wonder that our nation’s farmers were responsible for producing nearly 7.5 trillion pounds of turkey in 2012—nearly half the world’s supply!—and are leaders when it comes to many other foods regularly featured in Thanksgiving meals.  In 2012, American farmers also produced 3.1 billion pounds of sweet corn and nearly 2.7 billion pounds of sweet potatoes.

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Farmers Markets: Teaching Kids Where Food Comes From

Farmers markets are a perfect venue for teaching children about the food they eat.  Initiatives across the country, like this People’s Garden event at the USDA Farmers Market, encourage the development of healthy eating habits at an early age.

Farmers markets are a perfect venue for teaching children about the food they eat. Initiatives across the country, like this People’s Garden event at the USDA Farmers Market, encourage the development of healthy eating habits at an early age.

“We become what we repeatedly do.” In his Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens Sean Covey used these words to help young students preparing to attend college and join the workforce, but they also apply to how children learn to eat healthy.

Through innovative programs like the Power of Produce (POP) Club, farmers markets across the country are teaching children how to make healthy eating choices. This program, started at the Oregon City Farmers Market, invites children to learn more about some of their favorite foods. Participating in events like planting sunflower seeds or making jam gives the youngsters a chance to better understand where their food comes from. By receiving $2 to spend on fresh produce every time they visit the market to keeping a log of what they buy, the children become immersed in a world of healthy eating.  Last year, 1,781 children aged 5 to 12 years old joined, resulting in 5,180 shopping trips. Read more »

The Woman Who Cultivated a Billion-Dollar Industry

AMS, Women’s History Month, Elizabeth Coleman White, Blueberries, Research and Promotion Program, Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Elizabeth Coleman White. A pioneer, she was the first to cultivate the wild blueberry. For her contributions to the agriculture industry, White was the first female to receive a citation from the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. Photo courtesy of New Jersey Women’s History, Rutgers University

A Whitesbog, NJ, native born in 1871, Elizabeth Coleman White spent her childhood summers helping out on her parents’ cranberry farm in the Pine Barrens.  While harvesting cranberries, she often wondered if the wild blueberries sprinkled on her parents’ farm could be cultivated like the cranberries. Conventional wisdom at the time held that wild blueberries varied too much in size and sweetness and could not be cultivated.  A true pioneer, she embarked on a new mission – cultivate the wild blueberry. Read more »

Planting Seeds to Help the Specialty Crop Industry Grow

Blueberries blossom at Spiller Farm in Wells, Maine.  The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program will support blueberry and other specialty crop growers in California and the rest of the U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Photo by henskechristine.

Blueberries blossom at Spiller Farm in Wells, Maine. The Specialty Crop Block Grant Program will support blueberry and other specialty crop growers in California and the rest of the U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Photo by henskechristine.

When it comes to supporting the American agricultural economy and its communities, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is all in. Here at AMS, we have several grant programs that producers and other organizations can utilize to help increase the competitiveness of their businesses. Read more »

Winter …The Perfect Time to Visit a Farmers Market

A winter market in Rochester, NY.  There are more than 1,200 operating winter farmers markets across the nation. You can find a market near you by using the USDA National Farmers Market Directory.

A winter market in Rochester, NY. There are more than 1,200 operating winter farmers markets across the nation. You can find a market near you by using the USDA National Farmers Market Directory.

Traditionally, the onset of winter meant the end of farmers market season. However, in recent years, winter farmers markets have become increasingly popular. According to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), there are over 1,200 of these farmers markets operating across the country. This is almost a 38 percent increase from last year. Read more »

Get the Inside Scoop on our Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

Onions and other crops being grown on Zenger Farm. The non-profit that runs the farm, Friends of Zenger Farm, was awarded a grant through the state of Oregon this fall for an initiative that aims to increase the number of community farms accepting SNAP.  Photo by Theo Elliot.

Onions and other crops being grown on Zenger Farm. The non-profit that runs the farm, Friends of Zenger Farm, was awarded a grant through the state of Oregon this fall for an initiative that aims to increase the number of community farms accepting SNAP. Photo by Theo Elliot.

As part of our continuing education efforts, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is pleased to announce the next installment of our webinar series. This episode is designed for people interested in applying for grants offered through local state departments of agriculture for our Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Read more »