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Fostering Sustainability and Innovation in Agriculture
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USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Support Small-Socially Disadvantaged Producers

June 12, 2013 | 1

USDA National Program for Genetic Improvement of Feed Efficiency in Beef CattleWASHINGTON, June 12, 2013 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is seeking applications from cooperatives to provide technical assistance to small, socially disadvantaged agricultural producers in rural areas. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

“These grants will jump start small business hiring and help producers in areas facing economic challenges get the tools they need to succeed,” Vilsack said. “Small businesses are the engines of job growth and innovation in America.” Read More

Seattle Neighborhood Transforms Patch of Grass into Community Orchard

May 7, 2013 |

community orchard of west seattle“Wouldn’t it be great if we had a community orchard?” That question posed by Aviva Furman to her neighbor, Narcissa Nelson, was the beginning of the Community Orchard of West Seattle (COWS). This 1/8 acre demonstration garden showcases what a bit of networking, volunteerism and community support can achieve.

For newcomers to the orchard, the grass alongside its edge is a reminder of what the area used to be – a strip of grass that had to be mowed every year. The challenge initially for the organization was finding a site as the grant money from the City of Seattle’s Department of Neighborhoods and support from key stakeholders was there, says Nelson. Without a site, “we were concerned with time and missing the planting opportunity of spring and the possibility of having to forfeit the grant money.” Read More

USDA Announces Grants to Help Farms and Ranches Build Resilience to Drought

April 4, 2013 |

USDA National Program for Genetic Improvement of Feed Efficiency in Beef CattleNews Release – WASHINGTON, April 4, 2013 – Today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the award of $5.3 million in Conservation Innovation Grants to develop approaches and technology that will help producers adapt to extreme climate changes that cause drought. These grants will fund projects benefiting several states that were significantly impacted by last year’s drought. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy. Read More

Small Scale Farm Op Only Miles from Las Vegas Strip Shows Promise of Desert Agriculture

March 4, 2013 |

Growing organic food in the desert is no easy task. But Marilyn Yamamoto, who cultivates several acres of land a short drive from the famed Los Vegas Strip, has transformed her acreage into a test garden to help gardeners in the area determine the most efficient plants to grow on their properties so as to provide quality healthy food for their families.

Yamamoto says the small-scale growing operation known as Cowboy Trail Farm, which she operates as nonprofit under the name ‘Organic Edibles LV, inc’, is a labor of love.

Yamamoto, a Master Gardener, says she first began to experiment with desert cultivation techniques a few years ago, when her organization received a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She used the funds to acquire two hoop houses. Read More

Kansas City Urban Ag Org. Supports City Farmers While Growing Healthy Communities

January 22, 2013 |

Since 2005, Cultivate Kansas City (Kansas City, Kan.), formally known as the Kansas City Center for Urban Agriculture, has helped farmers manage urban farms. The organization started small and has steadily grown over the past eight years. Cultivate KC now manages two farms, and helps support multiple urban farmers and gardeners.

I recently spoke with Ami Freeberg, community outreach coordinator at Cultivate Kansas City, about the organization. Freeberg discussed how Cultivate KC has evolved and how the organization continues to help urban farmers thrive. Read More