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Start A School Garden - Here's How...

Numerous excellent school garden programs have sprouted up across the country. School gardens often provide food that improves a child’s diet and nutrition, areas for learning, places for pleasure and recreation, as well as a continuing lesson in environmental stewardship and civic pride. But how do they take root?

School gardens are sown with similar considerations but vary based upon its geographic location, funding, grade level involvement, size, type and purpose. For anyone looking to begin a gardening program at a school, here are some tips to consider before you get growing:

Acting Deputy Secretary Discusses the Need for a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill to Boost the Rural Economy

Anyone that is familiar with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) knows of the important role that our local delivery system plays throughout the country. Farmers and residents can visit the USDA Service Center in their area to receive localized assistance. The Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Rural Development (RD) staff in these offices often come together to highlight programs that each can offer and support projects in the area. This concept of One USDA was evidenced recently as representatives of these agencies welcomed the Acting Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Michael Scuse, to Illinois.

While in Illinois, Mr. Scuse joined the Illinois Directors of FSA, NRCS and RD to visit LaSalle County. The Acting Deputy Secretary moderated a roundtable discussion with administrators and students at Illinois Valley Community College (IVCC). Topics included the President’s Climate Change Action Plan, USDA’s role in renewable energy investments, and a discussion of the need for a five-year Food, Farm and Jobs Bill. Scuse said the bill is designed to continue the expansion of America’s rural economy, and that’s a primary reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill passed as soon as possible.

USDA Offers Assistance to Tornado Victims

Following the devastating effects of tornadoes this week, USDA is offering assistance to those in need.  USDA offers many programs that can provide assistance to landowners, farmers, ranchers and producers during disasters.  No Presidential or Secretarial declarations are required for the provision of much of this assistance.

Agricultural producers are reminded that Federal crop insurance covers tornado damage, as well as other natural causes of loss.  Please remember to report your loss to your insurance agent or company within 72 hours and in writing within 15 days. Your insurance company will send out a loss adjuster as soon as they are safely able to do so and will document your insurance claim. Please remember that you cannot destroy your crop or plant a new crop until the loss adjuster or your insurance company has informed you that you can do so.

Food Donation Drive Finishes Strong

The USDA Scottsbluff Service Center, local Agri-businesses and local producers delivered on September 2nd,  more than 6,150 pounds of food to the Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska (CAPWN) in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.  The food was collected through the “Feds Feed Families”.  CAPWN’s local programs provide a natural partnership for the “Feds Feed Families” campaign because they have an established avenue to distribute to people who are in need.

While Nebraska is known as the “Cornhusker State”, agricultural production in western Nebraska also includes dry edible beans and sugar beets.  Kelley Bean, New Alliance Bean and Grain, Stateline Bean Producers Cooperative, Trinidad Benham Corporation and individual producer Leo Hoehn combined to donate 5,700 pounds of navy, pinto and mixed dry edible beans.  Western Sugar, a grower owned cooperative, donated 160 pounds of granulated sugar.

When Phillip Mitchell heard about the effort, he brought in 15 dozen ears of locally grown, organic sweet corn from his one and one-half acre plot.  Phillip also participates in the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) available through the Natural Resources Conservation Service.