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rural development

Solar: It’s a “Big Dill” for Real Pickles Cooperative

As USDA Rural Development (RD) highlights National Cooperative Month, one worker owned co-op in Massachusetts stands out as a model for sustainability, collaboration, and local food system resiliency. The saying goes “it’s not easy being green.” But for Real Pickles in Greenfield, Massachusetts, the co-op wouldn’t have it any other way; they went green in 2011 with the addition of solar panels on its roof.

More than just a co-op: How Cooperatives Strengthen Economic Power

On the brinks of Beaufort, South Carolina, lies the brimming, remote island of St. Helena where the Gullah farmers are hard at work. For years, the Gullah Geechee community, an African American ethnic group located in the low region of the U.S., have struggled to make a living off their biggest asset: their land.

Six Myths About Cooperatives Debunked

Co-ops are a business structure, and like any business, they require hard work to be successful. They are unique in that they bring individuals together to solve issues they wouldn’t be able to solve on their own. Cooperatives can help communities by creating jobs, meeting social or economic needs, and improving community services. Despite a myriad of benefits, there are many myths that prevent people from recognizing their value.

USDA Rural Development’s ReConnect Program Helps Rural Families Close Digital Divide

McClellanville County is a rural community in South Carolina, and like many communities across rural America, access to high-speed internet presents real barriers. Families like Lindsay’s struggled to stay connected in the digital age. “When the kids came home from school and I was working, no one could get on,” said Lindsay. “Everyone had to stop and wait until I was done, and the kids would have to wait to do their homework.”

Delivering Energy Efficient Solutions for Rural New York Agricultural Producers

This month, I had the opportunity to travel to New Paltz, New York and visit with Peter Ferrante of Wallkill View Farm. Mr. Ferrante received funding through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to install a solar array on the rooftop of his farmers market in the Hudson Valley. REAP provides financing for renewable energy systems and can help agricultural producers or rural small businesses improve energy efficiency with new equipment and systems.

Connecting Rural New York Communities through USDA’s ReConnect Program

Last year USDA Rural Development awarded more than $10 million in ReConnect Program funding to bring high-speed internet access to Madison County, New York. USDA’s ReConnect Program offers loans and grants to construct, improve, and build equipment to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas.

Rural Partners Network Promotes Prosperity for Rural Communities

USDA Rural Development’s Rural Partners Network (RPN) is transforming how the federal government partners with rural communities to foster economic growth. With an alliance of federal agencies and civic partners, RPN helps create jobs, build infrastructure, and improve communities throughout rural America.

An Agriculture Community Commemorates the Mule Train to DC

Last month, I had the honor to serve as keynote speaker for The Mule Train’s 54th anniversary. The Mule Train left Marks, Mississippi and traveled to Washington, D.C., on May 13, 1968, as part of Dr. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign to demand economic justice since Marks resided in the poorest U.S. county at the time. However, Dr. King did not witness the Mule Train because he was assassinated the month before the demonstration.