If we have brought you a bounty of nature-related grants lately, there is good reason for it. As it turns out, what is good for the environment is good for us as well. In addition to improved physical and mental health for individuals, green space is critical to urban areas. The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and the Scotts Miracle-Gro Company agree. They have partnered with each other to grow one thousand community gardens and green spaces by 2018 with their GRO1000 Gardens and Green Spaces Grant Program.Read More
Every day, 73 percent of us go online. The White House’s Broadband Opportunity Council now calls internet access a core utility, infrastructure as necessary as water, sewers, and electricity. Yet the digital divide between rural and urban areas still exists: 53 percent of rural Americans, some 22 million people, lack access to broadband. On Tribal lands, the statistics are 63 percent, or 2.5 million people.Read More
Who would not prefer to bite into a strawberry right off the vine instead of a frozen one, or take in the scent of a real flower rather than artificial fragrance? That same authentic experience occurs when we shop at farmers markets. There is something about the fresh air and connection to those who grow our food that makes us feel like a part of it all. Of course there are more tangible benefits too. Estimates hold that farmers markets put three times more of their sales back into the local economy than the major chains do. Farmers markets preserve the time-honored vocation of farming. They promote healthy eating with food so delicious we don’t notice it’s good for us. Want to make new friends? Market patrons have an average of 15-20 social interactions per visit. When was the last time that happened at the grocery store?Read More
Though Congress is on recess and the farm bill is in limbo, there is some drought relief in sight. According to a White House official, President Obama will announce today that the Department of Agriculture intends to buy up to $170 million of pork, lamb, chicken and catfish to help support farmers suffering from the worst drought in decades. The food purchases will go toward food nutrition assistance programs such as food banks. Read more.
Congressional recess is scheduled to begin August 6, and the House has yet to vote on the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012, more commonly referred to as the 2012 farm bill. On June 21, the bill passed the Senate with bipartisan support; on July 19, Nancy Pelosi delivered a letter urging timely movement by the House so that President Obama could sign a final bill prior to September 30, when the 2008 farm bill is set to expire.