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A Greenhouse Garden Inspires an Urban New Orleans School

Tucked in the middle of a mixed commercial and residential area of New Orleans still struggling to recover from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, is Carter G. Woodson Middle School − a state of the art public charter school known as Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) Central City Academy.

As I wandered through the garden taking pictures and preparing for guests to arrive for the Greenhouse Garden Club ribbon cutting ceremony, I was intrigued by the markers made by students identifying the plants in the beds and statements about working hard and respecting the garden. 

“Hello miss! Our teacher sent us out here to keep you company,” said seventh-grader Keyira Powell.  She was accompanied by another student, Clifton Desilva who mostly stood in silence while Keyira − clearly a school ambassador – eagerly began telling me about the gardening club.

Beginning Farmer Kick Starts Operation to Provide Local Produce Year-Round

It’s been two years since Regina Villari, of Sewell, N.J., stepped into unchartered territory. Her idea was so different that no one else in her New Jersey town was doing it.

“I was intrigued by the operation,” said Villari. “I always wanted to have my own business and I wanted to do something in the local community that could provide fresh, local produce all year round.”

That something turned out to be a hydroponic greenhouse. Hydroponics uses nutrient-rich water instead of soil to grow lettuce, herbs, tomatoes and other vegetables.  The greenhouse allows Villari to grow the crops year round, feeding thousands of people throughout the state.

Agriculture on the Rise in New Hampshire

The Census of Agriculture is the most complete account of U.S. farms and ranches and the people who operate them. Every Thursday USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service will highlight new Census data and the power of the information to shape the future of American agriculture.

Agriculture is probably not the first thing that pops into your head when you think of New Hampshire. As the 2012 Census of Agriculture results show, however, farming is a major component of our state’s economy. In 2012, our farmers sold nearly $200 million worth of agricultural products.

Milk production has been one of New Hampshire’s leading agricultural products for decades. In 2012, our milk cows produced more than 3 million gallons of milk, which was worth nearly $55 million. Recently, egg production has been increasing. There were also more than 320,000 chickens in New Hampshire in 2012. As a result, New Hampshire had nearly $13.5 million of poultry and egg sales in 2012.

LED Lighting Improves Sustainability for Specialty-Crop Producers

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.

For about 2,000 years – since Roman emperor Tiberius demanded fresh cucumbers for lunch year ‘round – farmers have been looking for better ways to extend the growing season.  Now, a team of researchers led by Purdue University has found a way to grow more produce and save money doing it.

Greenhouses and other structures protect crops from harsh environmental conditions.  Over the last 50 years or so, some growers have added artificial lighting to compensate for shorter winter days or when conditions are cloudy.  However, the problem with most lighting systems is that they are relatively costly to install and do not provide the light spectrum that is most efficient for photosynthesis in plants.

A Small Business Dream Built on a Farmers Market

My mom raised five kids, taught high school chemistry for 15 years and then retired back to the family farm in 1986. Her new life on the farm depended on the Salisbury, MD farmers market where she sold daylilies.  The farmers market, just one of 8,000 or more markets listed in USDA’s National Farmers Market Directory, gave her the opportunity she needed to start her own business.

Each Saturday she loaded up her station wagon with plants and drove into town, displaying the lilies by color.  When she wanted to expand her plant offerings, my brother built her a small greenhouse.  She became known as the farmers market’s Flower Lady.

Great Lakes Greenhouse Gives Native Plants a Second Chance

Biologists have long recognized the important role native plants play in maintaining a healthy forest. When native plants are crowded out by invasive plants, those native species can suffer to the point of extinction.

Since the early 1990s, the Hiawatha National Forest has operated a greenhouse in Marquette, Mich. The idea is to provide both native seeds and seedlings for successful restoration of sites impacted by logging or disturbed by other land management activities. For instance, when aging culverts are replaced, native plants can be introduced to re-vegetate disturbed soil. Seeds and seedlings are also used to enhance existing wildlife habitats.

Adding Up the Little Things in Paktika, Afghanistan

Forward Operating Base Sharana, Paktika, Afghanistan – Since the U.S. Department of Agriculture began building up its corps of civilian agricultural experts from 11 in 2009 to 60 in 2010, USDA’s focus in Afghanistan has shifted from small-scale development to large-scale capacity building. Greater resources has allowed USDA and our U.S. government partners to help build and train a team of Afghan agricultural extension workers that bring better tools and technologies to farmers in rural areas – much like our extension service in the United States. In southeast Afghanistan, in a volatile province called Paktika, six teams of Afghan agricultural trainers and extension workers are leading a variety of low-cost projects that are uniting communities and growing agricultural production and diversity.