Jim VanDerPol get his pigs ready for market on his Pastures A Plenty farm in Kerkhoven, Minn.
“We think that fresh air and sunshine are the best health guarantee.” That’s the quote you’ll see after opening a brochure from Pastures A Plenty Farm. Spend an hour with the VanDerPol family and you quickly understand that those words are much more than just a marketing slogan. It’s the family’s philosophy.
Pastures A Plenty’s pork products can be found in many co-ops, retail outlets, restaurants and local stores throughout Minnesota. The VanDerPols feed their hogs on grass and straw and use a wholistic veterinary approach featuring probiotics and spices instead of drugs. Read more »
Susan Curington of North Woods Figured Wood (left) shows State Director Vicki Walker (right) how the family business “upcycles” burls, stumps and small, odd-shaped, or difficult-to-use wood pieces to be sold at premium prices to carvers and other hobbyists. USDA photo.
At a recent expo held by the Oregon Woodland Cooperative (OWC), I had the opportunity to meet with a number of family forest landowners who are cultivating additional commercial ventures thanks, in part, to USDA’s Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program.
At the event, OWC President Neil Schroeder introduced me to cooperative members who have sprouted new businesses and created local jobs as a result. The terrific part of all this is that USDA’s VAPG program provided funds needed to conduct the in-field assessments, feasibility studies, business planning, and marketing activities needed to identify, process and sell new, non-lumber products harvested from Oregon’s family forests. Read more »
Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan meets with members of the at Fifth Generation Farms fresh market in Lake City, Florida on Friday, Jan. 27, 2012. USDA Photo by Ellen Boukari.
Last week, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited Fifth Generation Farms fresh market in Lake City, Fla., a farm family owned market selling local meats and produce. When Fifth Generation Farms market opened in August 2011, it was the realization of a dream not only for Delvey and Cindy Dicks, but for their entire family as well. For five generations, the Dicks family has been involved in farming and ranching in the North Central Florida area. The Dicks knew that if the family farm was to remain productive for future generations, they would have to offset rising production input costs and the loss of summer tobacco crops. Read more »
Members of the Confederated Tribe of Warm Springs celebrate the start of a USDA funded project that will provide residents of the Reservation with Phone and Internet service.
Last week, USDA Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager made a brief, but impactful visit to Oregon joining USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker to announce program support and celebrate milestones in rural economic development with local communities. Read more »
Last month we were proud to announce awards for the Value-Added Producer Grants program. Managed by USDA’s Rural Development, this program has had nearly a decade of success in helping producers capture more value for their agricultural products by producing, processing, or marketing their product in a way that enhances the value or expands the customer base for that product. Supporting this type of activity also creates new jobs, contributes to economic development, and enhances consumer food choice. Read more »