USDA Rural Development RBS Administrator Sam Rikkers and USDA RD State Director Basil Gooden, Ph.D., visit the Shenandoah Organic Valley, a VAPG grant recipient, on April 18th, 2016.
Corwin Heatwole describes himself as quite the stubborn – though innovative – teenager. Leaving home at 17 years of age, this hardworking young man from Harrisonburg, Va. started several successful businesses in his early 20s before he discovered that there was a growing demand for organic chicken in the U.S. In 2013 he bought 300 chickens with not one buyer yet in sight. Now, with the help of USDA, he has more demand than he can handle.
Since that day, Corwin has grown the business from 35 employees to nearly 350 in just 25 months with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In October of 2014, Corwin received $200,000 in a working capital Value Added Producers Grant from USDA Rural Development and in January of this year, he also received a $600,000 Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan (B&I). He used the guaranteed loan to upgrade a very old plant with state-of-the-art packaging and processing machines. Without the packaging machines in particular, he noted, he would have never been able to fulfill his growing orders from Costco and Whole Foods. And through this growing business, he has been able to increase his farmers’ end-of-the-year net income by 75 percent. Read more »
USDA Farmers Market poster (Click to enlarge)
Get excited—we sure are! Friday, May 6, is the opening of the 21st season of the USDA Farmers Market in Washington, D.C. This means USDA employees and others who work nearby, residents of the city’s Ward 2, and tourists visiting the National Mall can once again shop at the USDA Farmers Market at 12th Street and Independence Avenue, S.W., starting next Friday, May 6, at 9 a.m.
We’re thrilled to have more farmers and growers participating than ever before. Farmers and growers participating for the first time include Chocolates and Tomatoes Farm and Spiral Path Farm, both of which are certified organic farms that offer community supported agriculture (CSA) pick up; EcoFriendly Foods, which has packaged and ready-to-eat meat and poultry products from animals raised without steroids, antibiotics, and hormones; King Mushrooms, which offers fresh varieties of oyster, button, and other mushrooms; and Stonyman Gourmet Farmer, which has small-batch, handmade cheeses and farmhouse foods. Read more »
NRCS Resource Soil Scientist Jeannine Freyman uses a soil profile to highlight differences in soil types and their suitability for agriculture and other uses at a workshop on the New River Hill Farm. Photo: Tracy Goodson.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is celebrating National Volunteer Week April 10-16, 2016, by thanking and honoring its Earth Team volunteers for their service to conservation.
When Otis Donald Philen, Jr. decided to combine his working farm operation with an outdoor classroom, he knew just the group to help―the New River Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).
Philen, director of the SWCD, and other conservation professionals partner with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to improve agricultural education and natural resource protection. In September 2014, New River became the first District in Virginia to own a working farm when Philen deeded a 143-acre tract to the district. Read more »
Chimney Rock National Monument in Colorado. Forest Service photo
Quietly waiting for you in our national forests and grasslands are what remains of long past civilizations and cultures. Some of these sites still have direct spiritual or cultural meaning to folks today while others are a complete mystery of what once was of a vanished people. Yet, in both cases, the adventurer is reminded of the centuries-old relationship between people and the land.
It’s this relationship between land and people that gives the U.S. Forest Service such pride in knowing that we protect these irreplaceable symbols that ancient peoples left to us. These near mystical treasures can be found from the Olympic National Forest in Washington State to the Dakota Prairie Grasslands of North Dakota to the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest of Virginia. Read more »
International School Meals Day raises awareness of the importance of food and nutrition in education and offers an opportunity for students to share school feeding experiences from across the globe.
March is National Nutrition Month. Throughout the month, USDA will be highlighting results of our efforts to improve access to safe, healthy food for all Americans and supporting the health of our next generation.
The upsurge in healthy eating and food security campaigns is really resonating with schoolchildren, so much so, that a day has been set aside for youth around the world to share their experiences. The celebration of this movement – International School Meals Day – draws our attention to the importance of good nutrition for all children.
March 3 marks the fourth consecutive year that USDA will partner with the United Kingdom to invite children from across the globe to promote nutrition and school meals, this year focusing on introducing fresh and healthy local fare into their diets. On that day children will connect through social media to share their food experiences and healthy eating habits. Read more »
Matt McCue and Lily Schneider of Shooting Star CSA, an organic farm in California. Their operation is chemical and pesticide free and they rely on practices that reduce impact on the environment.
Teamwork can improve virtually any endeavor, from partnering with a neighbor by exchanging butchered meat for hay to feed the rest of the herd or simply sharing a ride to save on gas. The result is usually savings and efficiency.
At USDA, that notion is taken to another level with public-private partnerships that improve economic stability for producers, the financial sector, and a nation that leans heavily on the shoulders of its farmers and ranchers. Read more »