Skip to main content


Farmers Markets as Community Centerpieces

Farmers markets have become a critical ingredient to our nation’s economy, food systems, and communities. Connecting rural to urban, farmer to consumer, and fresh ingredients to our diets, farmers markets are becoming economic and community centerpieces in cities and towns across the U.S.

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to kick off National Farmers Market Week at a wonderfully diverse and thriving market—the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace in Washington, DC.  Columbia Heights represents what I envision many farmers markets are like– a market with a deep sense of community that provides local residents with access to fresh, locally produced fruit, vegetables, meats, baked goods, and much more.  It’s also a place where neighbor meets neighbor, and the many benefits of having a farmers market nearby are felt throughout the community.

FFA State Presidents ‘Suit Up’ for Agriculture

Editor’s Note: Yesterday, Secretary Vilsack had the opportunity to speak with some of our nation’s brightest young leaders at the National FFA Organization’s State Presidents’ Conference. He discussed USDA’s efforts to revitalize the rural economy and recognized the officers for their commitment to leadership, personal growth and career success. Below is a blog post submitted to USDA by Clay Sapp, 2012-13 National FFA President.

Using 21st Century Technology to Solve Age-Old Problems

For years, we believed that food was the most powerful commodity to combating food insecurity in the developing world. But with a more intricate challenge than ever before, particularly in the developing world, data and information about food insecurity and agricultural research are proving to be almost as valuable in this fight.

Later this month, here in Washington, the G-8 and World Bank will host agricultural leaders from around the world at the G-8 International Conference on Open Data for Agriculture. The two-day event will bring the G-8 together with private and public research entities, as well as with businesses and NGOs who share the same goal: shoring up global food security.

The G-8 committed to this conference and to strengthening the virtual community by sharing data relevant to agriculture because it believes that creating this data “ecosystem” can leverage public research investment from many countries, drive innovation and fuel economic growth.

Ten Best Cities for Urban Forests

America is home to more than 100 million acres of urban and community forests. These are the forests that line our streets, shade our buildings and burst with color every spring and fall. Trees also clean our air and help prevent pollution and flooding. That's one of the reasons we like to call our urban trees 'the hardest working trees in America.'

School Gardens on Wheels

USDA partnered with The Washington Capitals to bring a People’s Garden to Powell Elementary School in Washington, DC almost 2 years ago. The process began with a garden design session so parents, teachers and students from every grade could put their ideas on paper. Hundreds of ideas were collected – from dinosaurs to avocado trees – for USDA landscape architects to sort through. The People’s Garden team and the Caps returned about a month later to reveal a concept plan that included a habitat garden and food garden. With the help of hundreds of volunteers from USDA’s People’s Garden, The Washington Capitals and the local community, both of these gardens have been brought to life.

The Habitat Garden was built first in the only area of the playground not covered in asphalt. The ground was very compact making the project a challenge for anyone trying to do this, but more so, on a very hot summer day. We got it done and the students now have an outdoor classroom to stomp through and explore. (This video shows a time-lapse of the amazing transformation.)

FSIS Adds a Dash of Food Safety to Taste of DC

Washington, D.C.’s premier ‘foodie’ extravaganza, the 2nd annual Taste of DC, brought warm deliciousness to the heart of the capital during the Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 6-8. Thirty restaurants gathered along Pennsylvania Avenue with food samples, music and entertainment for people of the National Capital Region. Thanks to a partnership between USDA and Taste of DC organizers, the Food Safety and Inspection Service was able to stir food safety into the mix of culinary topics.

Conservation from the Ground Up

What do lawns, green roofs and electric bills have in common? If you ask Bob Snieckus, the answer is “energy.”

Even though Snieckus stays busy as National Landscape Architect for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), he is also committed to conserving energy and improving sustainability in the Washington, D.C., buildings and landscapes where he works.

Life is a Truck Farm

DC Truck Farm is a collaborative effort between D.C. Central Kitchen (DCCK) and USDA’s People’s Garden Initiative. Now in its second year, this garden on wheels travels around the Nation’s Capital teaching urban youth about agriculture, soil science and nutrition education. It got moving thanks to the support of many partners in the DC metropolitan area.

We recently caught up with the District’s very own truck farmers at DCCK to capture their first planting of the season, to ask about lessons learned last year and to talk plans for 2012.