From the USDA Newsroom: Yesterday Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced announced that USDA is now accepting applications for up to $1.7 billion to fund projects that help spur business activity and economic growth in rural communities. This infusion of money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into rural business is designed to create and save jobs and help rural communities grow and prosper.
The funding announced today will be made available through USDA Rural Development’s Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan program, which supports the development of private businesses…
By Andrew Gunther
| July 16, 2009
Despite the pouring rain at NYC’s Union Square Greenmarket, customer after customer stopped by to ask Dan Gibson from Grazin’ Angus Acres detailed questions about how he raises his animals. His new status as the first Animal Welfare Approved farmer in Greenmarket is something he’s very proud of and it shows in his conversations. Dan said he gets these questions all the time, but that’s why he loves having a farmstand at Greenmarket. He appreciates when people ask questions and come for tours on the farm. “Once they come for a tour of the farm,” he said, “they’re customers for life.”
Louisa and Bob Wooton of Kauai Kunana Dairy produce fresh Hawaiian farmstead goat cheese. They have been raising goats in Hawaii since 1979 and making goat cheese for the past decade. “We are the only dairy on the island of Kauai,” Louisa Wooton says proudly. “Kauai Kunana Dairy is a true family farm. We built everything on the farm ourselves, including the house. Our eldest son Ryan and his wife Sarah are our partners.”
Increased food security is one of the guiding principles behind Eden Earthworks, run by Dr. Neena Roumell. Roumell is originally from Detroit and worked with low-income mothers there, who were given vouchers through the WIC program to buy fresh produce. “In Detroit,” Roumell noted, “there were over 300 community gardens, but there were none on this side of the Big Island when I arrived here. Hawaii is just starting to build its network of food production and farmstands, and I didn’t want lower income people to be left out. I looked at food models that concentrated on boosting income and nutritional intake and Eden Earthworks was formed.”
By Andrew Gunther
| July 8, 2009
Ilyssa Berg and Javier Flores raise Animal Welfare Approved dairy goats on Painted Goat Farm in Garrattsville, NY. Ilyssa is originally from the NYC metropolitan area and holds a degree in ecological anthropology, while Javier hails from Cuellaje, Ecuador- a farming region high in the Andes Mountains. Their herd of roughly 80 goats- Nubians, Alpines, and LaManchas- graze on over 100 acres of rolling hills in upstate New York, and produce milk from which Ilyssa and Javier make high quality, natural, fresh and aged cheeses.
Hawaii Lowline Cattle Company is proud to be part of the resurgence in Hawaii of raising and finishing cattle locally, on pasture. The farm was started by Rick and Haleakala Sakata and Dwayne and Tammie Cypriano, both of Ahualoa, Hawaii. Dwayne Cypriano, an independent rancher who formerly worked in cow-calf operations (keeping a breeding herd of cows and weaning calves for the feedlot system), and Rick Sakata saw an opportunity to do their part to advance Hawaii’s food self-sufficiency by building a herd of Lowline Angus cattle on their ranches. “Lowlines are Angus beef cattle in a compact, smaller frame size. They originated in Australia, where the beef is known for its excellent taste, texture and tenderness characteristics,” Sakata explained. “We were looking for two things when establishing our herd: cattle that were docile and cattle that were well-suited to beef production on grass, and that more efficiently converted grass to meat than today’s larger breeds. Because of their moderate size, two Lowlines can use the pasture space of one of today’s larger breeds, providing more beef per acre of grass and making the land more productive. That’s very important on an island with limited pasture space.”
Bill and Margot Heard were looking for a ranch within driving distance of Houston, where they operate two private schools and an open enrollment charter school. Ideally, they were looking for an operating cattle ranch with a family-oriented home and acreage. They wanted to get back to the land in a natural setting and to incorporate a ranch into a plan that coordinated with the family and school operations.