Young people are sacrificing paid jobs and internships to leave urban settings and volunteer with one of 1,500 organic farms that are part of Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF). The go-organic and farm-to-table movement has sparked a large interest among college students and 20-somethings, who found it a cheap way to travel while receiving room and board. The WWOOFing movement began in England in the 1970 as a way for city folk to enjoy the countryside and offer weekend help to farmers. Eventually, its popularity grew and the organization moved into different countries. Read more (Mail Tribune).
Edward Avegalio transformed his farm into a hydroponic haven that expanded his acreage and made the land accessible to his needs.
by Josephine Lealasola, agricultural specialist, American Samoa FSA
Edward Avegalio fought for his country in Operation Desert Shield in the early 1990s. Today, he serves his country by providing locally grown, fresh produce to area schools, local restaurants and stores through the first hydroponic farm in American Samoa that was redesigned to allow him to actively work the land.
“I am a strong advocate of food security,” said Avegalio. “I believe in investing in agricultural practices that work, and I believe that as members of the global community we can all make small efforts to invest in ourselves by growing small gardens to help increase awareness and build back some of our self sufficiency.”
Continue reading "FSA Loan Helps Veteran Succeed in Farming" »
Don Henry, county executive director in Delaware County, Ohio, gives out stickers to kids of the Karamajong tribe during a visit to Africa.
by Don Henry, county executive director, Delaware County, Ohio
Early last summer I was surfing the Web and came across an article about orphans that caught my eye. The article was written by a former orphan who had a heart for the 147 million orphans worldwide and had started a ministry to increase awareness of this tragic reality. They offered the opportunity to go and visit orphans with the scriptural theme of James 1:27 which admonishes us to go and visit orphans and widows. I thought to myself, I could do that, in fact, I should do that. So I filled out the application online at Visiting Orphans (www.visitingorphans.org) and hit the send button.
Continue reading " Ohio CED Trip to Africa: 'I Will Never Be The Same'" »
USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan kicked off the start of the USDA Farmers Market
USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan rang the copper cow bell this morning at the USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C., signaling the start of the department’s annual farmers market. “From 2010 to 2011 there has been a 17 percent growth in farmers markets. That is in part due to the work of USDA,” said Merrigan during a speech at the opening ceremony.” Redskins safety Reed Doughty joined
the festivities and signed autographs and tossed the football to promote the Fuel Up Play 60 initiative that encourages kids to eat healthy and exercise at least 60 minutes a day. Others included the group Hip Hop Public Health, who performed at the event, and several vendors from areas in and around the District.
USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and Smokey Bear were on tap to celebrate USDA's 150th anniversary in California.
“The People’s Department” has been fortunate to have so many good people in top positions over the years. As we continue to celebrate our 150th anniversary, we remember and honor some of the key people who have contributed to the tremendous work that USDA has accomplished. On May 16, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited Davis, Calif. to help USDA honor Yolo County farmer Richard Rominger, a former deputy secretary of USDA during the Clinton administration and the first Californian to attain that position.
USDA employees and leadership from at least eight different agencies gathered at the Lyng Building in Davis for the 150th anniversary celebration and joined the deputy secretary at the dedication of the first-floor conference room, now named the “Richard Rominger Conference Room.” An exhibit of historic photos of early California agriculture and a display of period farm equipment provided a historical setting. The University of California - Davis Agricultural Engineering Department also set up a working replica of the 1830s era McCormick reaper, the first mechanical grain harvester manufactured in the U.S.
Continue reading "California Celebrates 150 Years of the People's Department" »
Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed a proclamation celebrating the 150 year anniversary of USDA. Pictured (l to r): James Wilson, general field representative, Rural Utilities Service; Tom Fern, state director, Rural Development; Leland Brown, director, National Agricultural Statistics Service; Frank R. Beum, forest supervisor; Daniel Boone, National Forest; Karen Woodrich, state conservationist, Natural Resources Conservation Service; John W. McCauley, state executive director, Farm Service Agency and; Roger Thomas, executive director, Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy.
Governor Steve Beshear was joined by federal and state officials in the governor’s office for the ceremonial signing of a proclamation celebrating the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“Agriculture plays an important role in Kentucky’s economy and rural communities and the USDA is a key partner to its sustainability into the future,” said Beshear. “I am pleased to be a part of celebrating 150 years of the ‘People’s Department’ and look forward to a continued partnership.”
Continue reading "Kentucky Governor Commemorates USDA 150th Anniversary" »
Left picture: Robert Backus (center) was honored for assisting tornado victims. Right picture: Steve Jones (center) was recognized for saving the government thousands of dollars in fuel by minimizing the agency's fleet of vehicles.
Two FSA employees were recognized last week as unsung heroes by the Organization of Professional Employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (OPEDA).
Robert Backus, county executive director in Charlestown and Scottsburg, Ind., and Steve Jones, fleet manager with the FSA Fleet Management Program in Washington D.C., were honored during the 2012 OPEDA Unsung Hero Award Program — a part of Public Service Recognition Week — for providing exceptional service to the American public.
Continue reading "FSA Employees Honored as Unsung Heroes" »
After years of working in corporate America, Relinda Walker volunteered to be laid off to come home to Georgia and take over the family farm.
Being first can have its advantages and disadvantages. Relinda Walker knows that all too well.
Walker’s Organic Farm was one of the first organic operations in South Georgia. It took root in 2005 during a time when eating organic was for foodies and white table cloth chefs.
“No one was doing it in South Georgia,” said Walker. But when she presented the idea to the locals, “people were eager and chefs loved it,” she said.
Walker volunteered to be laid off from her job as vice president of operations at a technology company in New York in 2001 to come back home to Sylvania, Ga. She returned to care for her ailing parents and take over the land as a third generation farmer.
Continue reading "City Girl Goes Organic in South Georgia with Help from USDA" »
Indiana celebrated 150 years of agriculture this week as the lieutenant governor, FSA state executive director and USDA employees paid tribute to one of the state’s strongest economic engines — agriculture. According to Lieutenant Governor Becky Skillman, agriculture contributes $26 billion annually to the Indiana economy and is 17 percent of the state’s workforce. FSA State Executive Director Julia Wickard, said USDA has evolved but at the end of the day it’s about providing customer service to the farmer and getting them the tools they need to make their operations profitable. Read more (Hoosier Ag Today).
The Gurr family moved from a nursery at their home to a retail space near the capital of American Samoa.
by Josephine Lealasola, agricultural specialist, American Samoa FSA
Island Flowers by Liana opened their doors to American Samoa on May 7, 2008 — the week of Mother’s day — and business has been blooming every since. From humble beginnings selling cut flowers directly out of nurseries from their home in Maloata, this family run operation has become one of the leading florist shops on the island and a growing contributor to the local economy.
Prior to receiving FSA loan assistance, Donna and Pete Gurr sold cut flowers and potted plants from a nursery at their home for more than 20 years. Florists throughout the community would contact them to buy orchids, anthuriums, and other tropical plants.
“The support we received from the community has been overwhelming. Although we import some flowers, the majority of our products are locally grown and this is what our customers prefer for their floral arrangements,” said Donna.
Continue reading "Island Flowers Bloom with Assistance from FSA" »