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November 2011

Get the Inside Scoop on our Specialty Crop Block Grant Program

As part of our continuing education efforts, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is pleased to announce the next installment of our webinar series. This episode is designed for people interested in applying for grants offered through local state departments of agriculture for our Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.

Secretary Vilsack to Moderate a Panel of Former Secretaries of Agriculture at USDA’s 2012 Outlook Forum

A historic gathering of former Secretaries of Agriculture will occur at the 2012 Agricultural Outlook Forum. Secretary Tom Vilsack will moderate a plenary panel of former Secretaries of Agriculture invited to speak on “Agriculture: Visions of the Future.”  At least six of the last eight Secretaries will participate on the panel. The Forum will be held February 23-24, 2012, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.

Secretary Vilsack will deliver the Forum keynote address at USDA’s annual meeting titled “Moving Agriculture Forward.”  Twenty-five breakout sessions with more than 80 speakers will focus on a broad range of topical issues related to agriculture and global food security; foreign trade, financial markets, and economic development; conservation; energy; climate change; food safety; food hubs; extension programs; and next generation farmers.  The Forum continues to feature USDA’s agricultural economic outlook and the commodity supply and demand and food price outlooks.

Second USDA Executive Master Gardener Class Blooms

A budding new crop of People’s Garden volunteers recently blossomed. Nearly 60 USDA employees received certificates at a ceremony, marking their completion of the department’s 2011 Executive Master Gardener (EMG) training program. Class of 2011 graduates were welcomed as “new-bees” during a sweet serenade sung by EMG alumni at the beginning of the certificate ceremony.

Stainless Steel’s Appeal Stretches from the Kitchen to the Dairy Farm

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

Stainless steel’s all the rage in gourmet kitchen design, but its appeal could soon extend well beyond the kitchen to the nation’s dairy farms, thanks to intriguing discoveries by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the agency’s Animal Waste Management Research Unit in Bowling Green, Ky.

A Unique Urban Garden in the Heart of Atlanta

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Wheat Street Gardens, a unique urban garden, located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, Ga., not far from the famous civil rights historical Ebenezer and Wheat Street churches.  The garden was once a housing project that was demolished and many of the former residences’ families still come to the garden telling stories of where their parents used to live and reliving the memories as they purchase fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the garden.  The old housing project land, owned by the Wheat Street Church, was donated for the garden.

Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (TLW), which is a 501(C)(3) Non-Profit, runs the garden, which produces organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs, grown without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. The garden is also a farmers market selling as a direct farmer to the community and welcomes customers who spend Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Regional Planning – Key to Rural Economic Strength

Both of us grew up in small towns, Kathleen in Greenfield, MA and Bob in Ancram, NY.  From our own experiences, we understand the challenges and the importance of a strong rural economy.

We recently visited Brevard, a town of about 6,000 people in North Carolina’s Transylvania County.  While there we held a White House Rural Council meeting at the Transylvania County Library with leadership from the Land-of-Sky Regional Council, the regional economic development commission AdvantageWest, business leaders from Asheville and Brevard, and several local elected officials.  We released a report from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities, at Brevard College, which focuses on how the federal government can help rural areas to be economically vibrant and environmentally sustainable.