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Posts tagged: Sustainability

Hooked on Aquaponics

This fish tank is located in Honolulu, HI at the President William McKinley High School, and illustrates the cleanliness of water in an aquaponics/aquaculture system.  For aquaponics, when the system is properly balanced, the water can be maintained at maximum clarity. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

This fish tank is located in Honolulu, HI at the President William McKinley High School, and illustrates the cleanliness of water in an aquaponics/aquaculture system. For aquaponics, when the system is properly balanced, the water can be maintained at maximum clarity. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii Department of Agriculture.

If you’re wondering what aquaponics is, you’re not alone.  Tracing its roots back to the Aztecs and rice cultivation in South China, aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics – growing fish and plants together in a symbiotic system.  Basically, the plants keep the water clean for the fish to grow, and the fish fertilize the plants. Both help the other to survive and thrive.

A wide variety of foods—lettuce, beans, broccoli, cucumbers, peas, herbs, strawberries, melons, and tomatoes, for example—all flourish through aquaponics farming. Read more »

Former California Governor Schwarzenegger Cited for Work on Climate Change, Named Honorary US Forest Service Ranger

(left to right) Chief Tom Tidwell, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Smokey Bear at today’s ceremony. (Photo by Bob Nichols, USDA)

(left to right) Chief Tom Tidwell, former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Smokey Bear at today’s ceremony. (Photo by Bob Nichols, USDA)

Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger received a U.S. Forest Service badge and jacket during a special ceremony in Washington, D.C., naming him an Honorary Forest Ranger for his work on climate change issues.

“I know you understand what we need to do as a nation to reduce the level of carbon in the atmosphere — after all, you have helped lead the way,” U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said to Schwarzenegger during the ceremony at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “We look forward to having your help in educating communities on the devastating impacts of climate change on our forests and grasslands.”

Schwarzenegger said the honor “truly touches my heart” and expressed high praise for the agency and highlighted his respect for the thousands of Forest Service firefighters, especially as climate change effects have contributed to hotter, longer fire seasons. Read more »

Cultural Sustainability through Farmers Markets

In agriculture, we talk a lot about sustainability.  As a method of growing crops, caring for ecosystems like forests or wetlands, or even the economic sustainability of businesses—we look at this word from all angles.  But there’s another component to consider: cultural sustainability.

As a nation of immigrants, we have many rich and complex influences woven into the history of our country.  Foods we eat, holidays we celebrate, how we create goods or perform services—these are all things that are shaped by the cultural identities of our families and the communities around us.

For many communities, farmers markets are playing a pivotal role in maintaining and enabling these cultural ties. Read more »

Spreading Sustainable Seafood Practices Overseas

Last month, the Foreign Agricultural Service office in The Hague, Netherlands, partnered with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to highlight the institute’s commitment to sustainable fishing and introduce its new sustainability certification.

There is a growing interest among European consumers in sustainable seafood. Many European retailers require their suppliers to demonstrate that their products don’t deplete ocean fisheries. Read more »

Giving Thanks to our Nation’s Dairy Industry

June is National Dairy Month; a time to thank our nation’s dairy farmers and businesses for all that they do. USDA Photo.

June is National Dairy Month; a time to thank our nation’s dairy farmers and businesses for all that they do. USDA Photo.

Cross posted from DairyGood.org:

Whether it’s cheese, milk, or yogurt, dairy products are a staple in the diets of Americans and people all over the world. June is National Dairy Month, a time when we honor our nation’s dairy producers and processors for making sure that we can enjoy quality dairy products.

Always true stewards of the land, the industry has made tremendous strides when it comes to sustainability. In the past 63 years, the industry reduced its carbon footprint by 63 percent. This amazing statistic is a testament to the integrity of the nation’s dairies, most of which are family-owned and well-connected to the communities around them. Read more »

USDA’s 2012 Sustainability Scorecard

USDA’s 2012 Sustainability Scorecard showcases the Department’s ongoing commitment to meeting goals that reduce indirect greenhouse gas emissions, decrease energy use per square foot, increase renewable energy use, decrease potable water use per square foot, and incorporate sustainable building practices in new and existing buildings.

In 2012, USDA made significant progress in reducing indirect GHG emissions, largely associated with employee travel and commuting, resulting in an 18 percent reduction in indirect GHG emissions. In 2012, USDA consumed nearly 39,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy, which translates to enough green energy to meet more than seven percent of the Department’s electricity use. Read more »