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Posts tagged: Sustainability

Finding Success with Next Generation Farmers

Under Secretary Ed Avalos (left) listens to Carlos and Greg Chavez explain the ongoing effects of drought on farms in Texas. Greg, a next generation farmer, has worked to increase the sustainability and success of his family farm by implementing new technology and irrigation methods that decrease water consumption.

Under Secretary Ed Avalos (left) listens to Carlos and Greg Chavez explain the ongoing effects of drought on farms in Texas. Greg, a next generation farmer, has worked to increase the sustainability and success of his family farm by implementing new technology and irrigation methods that decrease water consumption.

Not everyone goes to work every day knowing that they will be inspired by the people they meet—I’m very fortunate in that way.  From the federal agencies that I oversee to the farmers and ranchers I visit with, I am truly inspired by their dedication to serving the American people and their commitment to the success of rural America.  And many of the issues that they work on or face in their daily lives are the same issues that we are all concerned with—sustainability and conservation, short-term and long-term stability, and making sure our children and the next generation have paths to success.

During a recent visit to the Texas Panhandle, I stopped to have breakfast and visit with the father and son team who run the Chavez family farm.  Carlos and Greg Chavez farm 3,600 acres of corn, wheat and cotton, and run 1,200 head of cattle on winter wheat.  Greg, the son, has focused his attention on implementing new crop watering techniques, leveraging technology and conservation practices to combat the inherent dryness brought on by the strong Panhandle winds. Read more »

Beginning Farmer Seeks Greener Pastures, Sustainable Future

NRCS District Conservationist Kate Parsons discusses pasture management with Sean Stanton. NRCS photo.

NRCS District Conservationist Kate Parsons discusses pasture management with Sean Stanton. NRCS photo.

When Sean Stanton started improving the pastures surrounding his small farm in Great Barrington, Mass., his efforts not only benefited the natural resources of this scenic southwest corner of Berkshire County but also diners at a Manhattan restaurant.

That’s because he supplies the Blue Hill Restaurant in New York City’s Greenwich Village with pasture-raised beef, veal and pork, as well as eggs and farm-fresh tomatoes. At Blue Hills Farm in Massachusetts, a herd of 20 or so cattle feed in a field skirted by the Appalachian Trail and the rolling Berkshire hills.  Some of the farm’s products stay in the Berkshires and some make their way to bigger markets less than three hours away in the Big Apple. Read more »

USDA Updates Multi-year Strategic Sustainability Performance Plan

Many of the USDA programs touch almost every American, every day.  And as concerns grow about climate change, greenhouse gases and depleting natural resources, USDA continues creating opportunities for farmers, ranchers, forest landowners, public land managers and families in rural communities. These opportunities help these stakeholders generate prosperity in innovative, sustainable ways while conserving the Nation’s natural resources and preventing pollution.

USDA is committed to leading by example through fostering a clean energy economy, improving the environment by conducting operations in a sustainable and environmentally responsible manner and complying with environmental laws and regulations. To accomplish this, USDA focuses on the future. The Department recognizes the significance of global climate change and utilizes this knowledge to create and maintain conditions under which people and nature can exist in productive harmony. Read more »

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 »