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Posts tagged: Washington State

New Farmers’ Legacy for the Land

Cameron Green standing among the tomatoes in the high tunnel

Cameron Green stands among the tomatoes in the high tunnel she operates with Eric Wittenbach.

Some people leave a legacy for their children. Cameron Green and Eric Wittenbach plan to leave theirs to Mother Nature. 

A philosophy of sustainability guides them on their eight-and-a-half-acre farm in Okanogan, Washington. Green and Wittenbach both come from a background of working the land; picking fruit in commercial cherry orchards, pruning and thinning threes, and growing vegetables in the Methow Valley for a local CSA. This has given them a close connection to nature, and when they bought their land eight years ago, their intentions were to make it as sustainable as possible. Read more »

USDA Makes First Visit to Cuba Since 1961

“Today I had the opportunity to meet with Cuban fruit and vegetable farmers in the Antero Regalado Agricultural Cooperative in Güira de Melena, and hog and sheep producers in the Niceto Pérez Livestock Cooperative. They talked openly about the membership structure of their cooperatives, and they share many of the same concerns that face American farmers, such as climate change and pests, in addition to their own unique challenges with irrigation and equipment. I look forward to seeing more Americans have the opportunity for conversations and exchanging of ideas with their Cuban counterparts like I have had over the past few days. Throughout history, agriculture has served as a bridge to foster cooperation, and I have no doubt that agriculture will continue to play that powerful role as we expand our relationship with the Cuban people in the coming years.” – Secretary Vilsack

Last week, I was part of the first USDA team to visit Cuba since U.S. Government offices were closed there in 1961, and I was the third U.S. Cabinet official to visit the island since President Obama announced his intent to resume relations with Cuba late last year. Food and agricultural goods are the dominant U.S. exports to Cuba, and it is my firm belief—and one that appears to be shared by the Cuban people and government officials—that agriculture can serve as a bridge to foster cooperation, understanding and the exchange of ideas. Read more »

Organic Sound and Sensible Resources: Why Go Organic and Where to Start

Matthew Raiford

Growers like Matthew Raiford discuss what organic means to them. The new online resources will help producers better understand the organic option and where to start.

Last week, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program (NOP) announced new resources resulting from our Sound and Sensible Initiative, which is aimed at making organic certification more accessible, affordable, and attainable. Today, we are introducing guides, videos, and other tools – all produced by our partners in the organic community – that will help producers better understand the organic option and where to start. Read more »

Preparing for a ‘Silver Tsunami’

Kate Nichols (right), a caregiver/member-owner of the Circle of Life Caregiver Cooperative, helping client Bess Christman get some exercise with golden retriever Amber

Kate Nichols (right), a caregiver/member-owner of the Circle of Life Caregiver Cooperative, helps client Bess Christman get some exercise, ably assisted by golden retriever Amber. Photo by Kathleen English, courtesy Circle of Life.

October is National Cooperative Month, and we’re highlighting several projects throughout the month that have been supported through USDA Rural Development’s Cooperative Services.  This Co-op Month blog courtesy of Deborah Craig, co-op development specialist with the Northwest Cooperative Development Center, discusses the need for senior health care options in rural America and how the co-op model is rising up to meet the challenge.

A new homecare cooperative is being formed to bring client-centered care to the elderly and handicapped in the coastal town of Port Townsend, Wash., population of just under 10,000. A sense of community runs strong here, and is especially felt for elders. When local caregivers, dissatisfied with current homecare options, met to discuss alternatives, a central concern was the ability to create locally owned, quality homecare services. Read more »

Mixed Crop-Livestock Systems: Changing the Landscape of Organic Farming in the Palouse Region

Dorper ewes grazing in selected areas in a mixed crop-livestock research project

Dorper ewes graze in selected areas in a mixed crop-livestock research project. (Image courtesy of Jonathan Wachter)

Grazing livestock may soon be a common sight in the Palouse region of southeastern Washington, usually known for its rolling hills and grain production. 

Jonathan Wachter, a soil science doctoral student at Washington State University, has been working with a local farm to improve the competitiveness of organic mixed crop-livestock systems and their potential adoption by growers in a conventional grain-producing region. Read more »

Back to School Checklist: Fruits and Veggies

A girl eating an apple on the Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs poster

USDA’s revised guide, Procuring Local Foods for Child Nutrition Programs can help schools find, buy and serve more regional offerings.

Fruits and vegetables are at the top of USDA’s back to school list, and just in time for the new school year, the Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables is making it easier for schools in eight states to purchase them. The 2014 Farm Bill authorizes the pilot in not more than eight states participating in the National School Lunch Program, and provides them with an opportunity to better access nutritious foods. The pilot also helps create and expand market opportunities for our nation’s fruit and vegetable producers, opening the door for a variety of vendors, small growers, food hubs and distributors to supply unprocessed fruits and vegetables to participating schools.   

So far, five states (California, Connecticut, Michigan, New York and Oregon) have spent over $600,000 through the pilot from February through June 2015. Several California districts contracted a produce distributor to connect local and regional producers with schools to receive peaches, cauliflower, apricots, and kale from their state. Students in Oregon are chomping on pears from the Pacific Northwest, while many Connecticut and New York schools are feasting on Macintosh apples from Massachusetts orchards and Empire apples from New York. Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin were also selected for the pilot and will begin receiving deliveries of fruits and vegetables in the coming months. Read more »