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September 2009

Gering Ever Green House - Building and Renewing a Rural Community

In Gering, Nebraska (pop.8000 ) over the Oregon Trail Park, right next to the high school football field lies the Ever Green House. A project of Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska, the Ever Green House is a family and community development center featuring a community garden, a greenhouse, and a farmer’s market. With a mission of building community through gardening, horticultural education, community beautification and environmental stewardship, the mission encompasses many of the goals that the USDA is promoting.

USDA hosts its first ever Iftar dinner to recognize Muslim employees

In his speech at the University of Cairo on June 4, 2009, President Obama called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims at home and around the world. As a way to answer the President’s call, Secretary Vilsack hosted USDA’s first-ever Iftar dinner to celebrate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Thursday, September 10th, in the Whitten Building patio. More than 200 USDA employees and members of the local community, both Muslim and non-Muslim, were present for this historical event.

Secretary Vilsack meets with Jewish leaders to talk about fighting hunger

On Monday, September 14, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack had the opportunity to meet with 25 leaders of the Jewish community in America including representatives from the Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Reform traditions, as well as national service organizations. The meeting was a wonderful occasion for the Secretary to further President Obama’s efforts to promote interfaith dialogue and cooperation.

FARMFRESH Market has Something for Everyone

On an early fall day when the rain refused to pass farmers and producers from the DC-metropolitan region gathered for the opening of the FRESHFARM Market by the White House on Vermont Ave. Federal employees, area workers and out-of-town visitors gathered for the festivities despite the weather and were excited for the new program.

Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food News Coverage

Big plans for small farmers
Warriors in the battle for more local, sustainable food have long been suspicious of the Department of Agriculture and its relationship to large agricultural interests. But even the most dedicated political agrarian has to admit that the USDA is getting local food fever. This week, the top people at the USDA announced they would be handing out almost $65 million to help connect small farmers — especially those using sustainable practices — with people who want to eat local food. The money is part of their new “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” campaign which includes a series of programs to help farmers better market their food and the people who run large institutions buy it. (N.Y. Times Diner’s Journal blog, 9/15)

White House Chef Sam Kass helps USDA Dish Out Nutritious, Local Food

Remember when your favorite dish unexpectedly appeared on the menu at your school cafeteria? It was the same feeling of excitement today at the USDA Cafeteria. White House Chef Sam Kass mixed up Honey Crisp Apple Salad (with or without chicken) for USDA employees and visitors as Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan continues the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food roll-out week.