I could barely contain an excited squeal (yes—squeal) as I waited for the awards to be announced. I knew in my heart that one of my teams would be named Team of the Year. I say “my” teams without a valid sense of ownership. They and their teacher did the hard work. I had only met these kids twice, once before and today, but still…I was rooting for them.
It started about a year ago, when the Pasture Program was contacted by the VT Envirothon Current Issues coordinator. Envirothon is a national environmental competition where high school students compete in four standard categories (aquatics, soil, forestry, and wildlife) and one current issue which changes each year. We were contacted because the national program had chosen “Sustainable Rangeland Management” as the issue, which in Vermont is quickly translated to rotational grazing. Naturally, we jumped on the chance to teach high school students about the benefits of pasture! Continue reading
Lindsey Ruhl, graduate student at the University of Vermont (UVM) Department of Plant and Soil Science, originally didn’t set out to become a soil scientist. But she now knows the critical links among soil health and local food systems, water quality, and the livelihoods of farmers. And she’s passionate about soil science and its effect on food sovereignty.
Lindsey Ruhl (photo courtesy of UVM Dept of Plant & Soil Science).
Lindsey is a recent recipient of a Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE) graduate student grant. Her project, called “Mitigating and Preventing Flood-Related Soil Quality Degradation Using Cover Crop Blends,” is a response to questions she had about soil health following a natural disaster, in this case Tropical Storm Irene. Lindsey is looking at strategies farmers can use when their fields are faced with “post-flood syndrome,” a variety of soil fertility problems that arise after flooding. In particular, she is investigating different cover crops—winter rye, forage radish, hairy vetch, and lupine—and their abilities to “alleviate post-flood deficiencies in organic vegetable production systems” and rejuvenate soils after a flood event. Continue reading
Editor’s note: This week’s WAgN blog shares observations from outgoing USDA Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan on the status of women in agriculture. “There is serious momentum behind women in agriculture,” Merrigan says.
In the four years I’ve served as Deputy Secretary, I’ve talked with thousands of women in agriculture – from young women thinking about entering farming to older women who have been tilling the soil for decades. Each of their stories is powerful on its own. But taken together, they have been an inspiration to the entire country. And today, we know that there are nearly one million of these stories around the country – nearly one million women farming and ranching on America’s working lands. Continue reading