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organic initiative

Report: Cultivated Fruit, Nut and Flower Acres on the Rise

Known to her neighbors in Clarke County, Miss. as the blueberry lady, Barbara Robinson has a vibrant 20-acre farm packed with blueberries, muscadines and other produce. Robinson is one of the nation’s many fruit growers, and a recent USDA report shows the land dedicated to growing cultivated fruits, nuts and flowers is rapidly growing.

The National Resources Inventory released recently by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service shows a boom in land dedicated to growing fruits, nuts and flowers, increasing from 124,800 acres in 2007 to 273,800 in 2010. Cultivated refers to farms that plant a second crop amid the fruit, nut and flower crop. This finding is one of many in the newest NRI report.

While the report only provides the numbers and doesn’t make inferences, experts at NRCS say one reason for the growth is more available assistance to fruit, nut and flower growers.

Conservation Programs Help Bring Farming Back to Suburbia

When Dina Brewster’s grandparents bought their place in Ridgefield, Connecticut, in 1936, the town was dominated by small farms. Many of those farms eventually disappeared to development, or were leased or abandoned. But now some are being revitalized—sometimes, as in Brewster’s case, by the grandchildren of the original owners.

Brewster is the first family member to farm the homestead since her grandmother ran it as a sheep farm. After her grandparents stopped farming, the land lay fallow for years and then was leased to another farmer. Brewster took over the farm in 2006 and set about converting it to a certified organic operation.