By Vicki Walker, USDA Rural Development Oregon State Director
Victor Vasquez, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, delivered a strong, upbeat message to grant recipients at the Community Services Consortium Youth House Gardens in Corvallis, Oregon on July 12. The Deputy Under Secretary was in Oregon to highlight the USDA “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, and to emphasize the importance of Rural Development programs in delivering on economic recovery efforts.
Vicki Walker, Oregon Rural Development State Director, and Katy Coba, Director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture, joined Under Secretary Vasquez at the gardens that provide youth with “workforce training, education, and the skills to foster community engagement.” The garden space is donated by a local business, and the food is grown and harvested for distribution at the Corvallis Farmers’ Markets and donations to the local food bank, Linn Benton Food Share. Director Coba noted that these same kinds of partnerships are valued between the state and federal departments of agriculture.
USDA has a tradition of supporting Know Your Farmer-styled projects in support of rural agricultural producers and food business. Examples include a well-established network of over 90 farmers markets, Ecotrust’s Food Hub, cooperative associations of cattle producers, and enthusiasm for local foods in grocery stores and food co-ops.
State Director Walker also took the opportunity to share information about USDA’s participation in “Feds, Farmers, and Friends Feed Families,” the second annual food drive spearheaded by the Office of Personnel Management. Food barrels from the Oregon Food Bank will be placed in the office building that Rural Development shares with other federal agencies with a goal of raising 50,000 pounds of food for Oregonians, part of a national effort to raise over one million pounds of food for struggling families.
Under Secretary Vasquez then awarded certificates to several Oregon recipients of the Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG), a program that provides funding to nonprofits, public bodies and Tribal governments to support small business development. Vasquez also announced on behalf of Secretary Vilsack that Torii Mor Winery, LLC in Dundee, Oregon, would be the recipient of a $6 million guaranteed loan under the Business & Industry Guaranteed Loan Program.
Victor Vasquez, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development presented a partnership award to the young men and women involved in the Youth Garden at the Community Services Consortium in Corvallis, Oregon.