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Forest Service Funds Urban Tree Projects in California

Urban forests are a vital part of our nation’s cities – they clean the air we breathe, capture pollution and stormwater and beautify our neighborhoods. Urban trees save cities millions of dollars in energy costs every year just from shade alone. U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell has called urban trees “the hardest working trees in America.”

Tidwell underscored that statement during a recent visit Oakland, Calif. to view Urban Releaf’s greening and community-building efforts. He presented Kemba Shakur, executive director, a check for $181,000 to support education and demonstrations projects, as well as tree planting and maintenance throughout the Oakland area.

¡Si Por Favor! We’ll Take Another Serving of Spanish Chickpea Stew

Cross posted from the Let's Move! blog.

The bay area of California is home to some celebrity chefs but it is the lesser known student chefs at Skyline High School that are making the bulbs flash and the critics swoon.  Well before the official judging team arrived at Skyline High School in Oakland, California, the local entry, Spanish Chickpea Stew, had already passed the toughest test of all -- winning high marks from Skyline students in a cafeteria taste test.

California is home to some of the most fertile farmland in the world and so it produces some the best fruits and vegetables available. It is fitting that the student chefs would go local and include California grown specialties such as spinach, tomatoes and raisins to create this savory and healthy stew.

Regional Collaboration Uses Local Food Systems to Expand Rural-Urban Partnership

A regional initiative in Southwest Iowa originally intended to train farmers on local-food production has evolved into a rural-urban partnership that touches a poverty-stricken community.  I joined USDA Rural Development Acting Deputy Under Secretary Doug O’Brien in Oakland, Iowa, recently to meet with officials from the Golden Hills Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D) council.

Golden Hills was one of seven “Great Regions” designed by Rural Development earlier this year for its plan to, among other things, provide business and management skills training for up to 15 farm-based businesses.