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USDA Push for more Community Gardens in Omaha

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Deputy Undersecretary, Joani Walsh paid a visit to Omaha and was impressed by all the ideas to expand farming in urban areas.

By Chase Moffitt
Channel 6 News
Sept. 20, 2012

Excerpt:

Now, because of the drought, growing local has gained some attention again, this time it comes from the U.S.D.A. in Washington D.C.

Fresh, healthy produce planted in boxes, grown until ripe and then picked to be eaten, it’s an ordinary summertime activity.

U.S.D.A. Deputy Undersecretary Joani Walsh visited Omaha Thursday on a follow up trip from her office earlier in the year. She was joined by the mayor’s office, along with members of local government. The goal was to grow local community gardens to the next level and connect more people with more fresh, locally grown food.

“It’s is both creating more opportunities in urban area and as well as creating opportunities for folks who are growing outside (that market) to get that product to market,” Joani Walsh, U.S.D.A. Deputy Undersecretary said.

The idea is simple, to fund, support and grow local gardens, farmers markets and food pantries.

Read the complete article here.

Also:

Urban Farming Peaks Interest in USDA Representative

By Franque Thompson
Fox 42 news
Sept. 20, 2012

OMAHA (KPTM)- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Deputy Undersecretary, Joani Walsh paid a visit to Omaha and was impressed by all the ideas to expand farming in urban areas.

“Folks are already working together. There’s a lot of creative, innovative work going on in the ground here in Omaha. So I was really impressed with what was already happening,” said Walsh.

This was news community gardener’s were thrilled to hear.

“The more we can get out and doing something, the better,” said Kurt Goetzinger, owner of the Benson Community Garden.

The mission of USDA’s visit was to ensure support from drought relief and to encourage more access to fresh fruits and vegetables in all areas of the city.

“We know that the more that we can connect the producers in our community to the individuals and citizens in our community, the better off we are,” said Mary Balluff of the Douglas County Health Department.

“They have a lot of high quality food that a lot of parts of Omaha don’t have. So it’s great to know that there will be more community gardens and more urban ag in the town,” said Goetzinger.

Not everyone can afford fresh produce. So the Benson garden offers free vegetables to pick to area residents in their “neighbor garden.” It’s seen as another way to give back to the community.

“The neighborhood has really embraced it. And every time, they waive thank you to the gardeners and it’s been a good thing,” said Goetzinger.

Mayor Jim Suttle says one goal is to start community gardening in north Omaha. He says this will gives families a chance to grow their own produce and help fight hunger in the community.

Link here.