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August 2009

Rural Tour Visits California’s Central Valley

Secretary Vilsack meets with business owners and United Farm Workers

Today, Secretary Vilsack and Deputy Secretary Merrigan met with leaders and members of the United Farm Workers at Monterey Mushroom, a company located on the edge of California’s Silicon Valley. The roundtable discussion involving 27 workers and eight growers is part of USDA’s ongoing effort to communicate with disadvantaged and underserved communities. The meeting began with a moment of silence for farm worker champion, Senator Ted Kennedy.

U.S. Embassy Seoul #35 School Garden Project

When I visited Washington, I met the Secretary of Agriculture who comes from the great farming state of Iowa and he knew that we were going to begin this project. In fact, the idea for this project was inspired by the First Lady’s work with Washington, D.C. students who’ve always lived in the city and have never had a chance to grow vegetables or tend to a garden. As I have the rare privilege of having some land in the center of a very crowded city, I thought some of Seoul’s city students might enjoy a similar experience.

The Pool: The Great Equalizer

When I received an email from US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding the President and first Lady’s summer of service initiative, United We Serve, I thought, “Oh no, now what?” As I read about the goals of the program, I wasn’t sure if I would have either the time or the energy to do anything. But, as I thought about how lucky I am at this time to have a job, a roof over my head and a reliable vehicle, it seemed very little to ask me to give up one afternoon. Little did I know how much value I would find in giving up one afternoon of my time.

Hummingbirds and gazpacho in the People's Garden

Today in the People's Garden, USDA volunteers hosted another Healthy Garden Workshop -- and visitors were once again able to sample a dish created entirely from garden-grown foods in the Chef's Garden. The events will continue all summer here in Washington, but you can also check out some video from this afternoon:

A volunteer from the Natural Resources Conservation Service leads the Healthy Garden Workshop, on attracting wildlife to the garden -- in this segment of the presentation, he's outlining how to attract hummingbirds.

Rural Tour fostering a nationwide discussion on rural issues

Since the first event in June, we've been excited to see the Rural Tour generating really thoughtful conversation and debate on the issues facing rural America. At town hall forums across the nation, Secretary Vilsack and his counterparts across the government have met with large, sometimes overflow, crowds. They've been able to answer questions and engage in productive debate on the best ways to help rural America.

Secretaries Vilsack and Duncan participate in food packaging event to promote “United We Serve”

On Monday, August 17, Secretary Vilsack joined Secretary of Education Arne Duncan for a Rural Tour event in Hamlet, North Carolina. While they were there, the Secretaries had the opportunity to participate in a meal packaging service project at Richmond Community College to promote President Obama’s summer volunteerism initiative. The event was coordinated by , a Raleigh-based non-profit organization that has hosted similar events at area colleges, including North Carolina State, the University of North Carolina, NC Central and others.