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Urbana People’s Garden leverages improved nutritional choices among low-income families

Employees of USDA-Agriculture Research Service in Urbana, Illinois teamed up with the University of Illinois to establish a unique Peoples Garden this year.  The garden was named ‘Three Sisters’ because we grew variations of the three main agricultural crops of some Native Americans: maize, beans and squash.  The garden produced sweet corn, which has been improved in multiple, significant ways by the University of Illinois.  We also grew 14 cultivars of edamame developed in Urbana by retired USDA-ARS plant breeder Richard Bernard.  In addition to green beans, we also cultivated several types of pumpkins, recognizing Illinois grows 95% of the nation’s pumpkins used in processing.

California Culinary Academy Members and San Francisco Middle School Partner in Chefs Move to Schools Program

For more than a year now, the Slow Food on Campus members at the California Culinary Academy have proudly partnered with students from San Francisco’s James Lick Middle School.  The staff teamed with the school, which participates in the Chefs Move to Schools program, because of their diverse student body and receptive school administration.

USDA Rural Development State Director Tours Southwestern North Dakota to Connect with Community Leaders

USDA Rural Development State Director Jasper Schneider, and staff, recently toured seven rural communities in southwestern North Dakota as part of USDA’s ongoing commitment to rural communities.  Schneider participated in conversations with community leaders to identify ways Rural Development programs can most effectively work to improve the quality of life and increase economic opportunity in the region.

Talking Nutrition with Stephen Colbert

Last night, I stopped by the Colbert Report to talk about the critical role the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plays in promoting healthy eating.  I am familiar with Stephen’s unfortunate bear phobia, so Smokey Bear  was asked to stay back at headquarters. The topics of hunger and nutrition, however, are no laughing matter, so I was excited to have the opportunity to discuss these important issues with Stephen and his viewers.  

Dam Removal Enhances Massachusetts Wildlife Habitat

Fifteen hardy New Englanders stood in the cold November rain recently to watch the demolition of one of the largest dams ever to be removed in Massachusetts. The crowd was made up of representatives from a diverse group of public and private partners that have been working together toward this day. The removal of the Briggsville Dam in Clarksburg, a small town near the Vermont border, will restore the North Branch of the Hoosic River.

Dairy Barn Transformation is a Symbol of Its New Role

Construction has begun on Laraway’s new home.  Looking at this hundred-year-old dairy barn jacked up in the air on the occasion of last month’s ground-breaking, it occurred to me that this labor of renovation and rejuvenation foreshadows what happens to the at-risk kids who come to Laraway Youth and Family Services in Johnson, Vermont.

Se Aproxima la Fecha Límite para Inscripción en el Programa 2009 de Desastre para los Cultivos de Arroz, Algodón, Semillas de Soya y Camote

La Agencia de Servicio Agrícola (“Farm Service Agency” o FSA, por sus siglas en inglés) del USDA le recuerda a los productores que tienen hasta el cierre de negocio del jueves, 9 de diciembre, para solicitar asistencia por pérdidas del año 2009 bajo el Programa de Asistencia para Cultivos (“Crop Assistance Program” o CAP). Hasta un máximo de $550 millones en asistencia por desastre serán emitidos a productores de arroz, algodón, semillas de soya y camote (batata), por pérdidas elegibles debido a un exceso de humedad o condiciones relacionadas en 2009.