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NRCS 2015 StrikeForce Activity Highlights

USDA StrikeForce Helps Alturas de Peñuelas Community Gardens Grow / Comisión Especial de USDA Ayuda en Jardín Comunitario en Alturas de Peñuelas - July 24-28

USDA-NRCS & FNS staff join UPR Agricultural Extension Service (SEA), for a week-long, hands-on Huertos Caseros y Nutrición (Community Gardens & Nutrition) workshop at the Alturas de Peñuelas Multi-Family Housing Community the last week of July.

NRCS Agronomist, Mario Rodriguez (in hat) helps Alturas de Penuelas youth & adults plant tire garden

USDA StrikeForce Team Tours Puerto Rico June 2-5

The USDA StrikeForce Team of NRCS Assistant Chief, Kirk Hanlin; Jacqueline Davis-Slay, Director of Public & Private Partnerships; Natasha Brown, NRCS StrikeForce Lead; and Luther Jones, NRCS StrikeForce Coordinator, visited Puerto Rico the first week of June to assist USDA agencies with strategic planning. The Team visited various farms and housing developments around the island with local FNS, FSA, NRCS and RD staff.

NRCS-CB Director explains Farm Bill 2014 programs, responds to farmer questions in Camuy-060315
NRCS-CB Director, Edwin Almodóvar (far left), describes Farm Bill 2014 programs and responds to farmer questions at an outreach workshop in Camuy on June 3, 2015.

USDA Helps Hormigueros Multi-Family Housing Residents Build Community Garden / USDA Ayuda a Residentes en Hormigueros a Construir Jardín Comunitario

USDA-FNS, NRCS and RD officials joined Agro-Juvenil 2.0 for a hands-on “Huerto comunitario como herramienta para transformar la comunidad" (Community Garden as a tool for community transformation) workshop at the Hormigueros Apartments Multi-Family Housing Community the first week of June.

Hormigueros Housing Community with their new Peoples Garden

Energy Saving Workshop for Coffee Processors (Taller de Ahorro Energético para los Beneficiados de Café

There is a great need amongst Puerto Rican coffee processors to improve energy efficiency.  NRCS, FSA, RD and EnSave held a workshop on May 14, 2015 at Hacienda Tres Ángeles to encourage the 70 producers present to participate in USDA programs to save energy and money. At the workshop, NRCS staff introduced new payment schedule practices to help coffee producers install new energy-efficient equipment to dramatically reduce fossil fuel usage & cost. As a result of the workshop, NRCS received four (4) new EQIP Energy Initiative applications.

Guillermo Cardona, farm owner & designer of energy saving equipment leads tour of plant.
Guillermo Cardona, Hacienda Tres Ángeles farm owner & designer of energy saving coffee processing equipment leads tour of plant for over 70 workshop participants.

April 2014 Farm Bill Public Meetings - Juana Díaz

NRCS and FSA met with over 135 farmers and partners on April 28 to promote 2014 Farm Bill programs and encourage more underserved farmers to apply for conservation assistance.

DC Nicis Vega talks about Farm Bill conservation programs at April meeting in Juana Diaz.
Juana Díaz DC, Nicis Vega, discusses Farm Bill conservation programs with over 135 farmers and partners at an April 28 public meeting.

April 2014 Puerto Rico StrikeForce Kickoff Events

On April 21, 2015, USDA officials from the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Farm Service Agency (FSA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Rural Development (RD) joined Puerto Rico’s First Lady, Wilma Pastrana-Jiménez, and Agriculture Secretary Dr. Myrna Comas at Finca González in Guánica to announce the expansion of the USDA StrikeForce for Rural Growth and Opportunity to Puerto Rico. Through StrikeForce, USDA will work with community partners to combat chronic rural poverty in Puerto Rico by creating jobs, feeding children, assistong farmers, securing safe homes and conserving natural resources.

Caribbean Area USDA staff hosted Elvis Cordova, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for AMS and Representative to the White House Puerto Rico Task Force; Max Finberg, USDA StrikeForce National Coordinator; Patricia Dombroski, USDA-FNS Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator; and Sam Rikkers, RD Administrator for Business and Cooperative Service. On April 21st, USDA VIPs also visited NRCS' Guánica Bay /Río Loco Watershed Coral Reef Initiative project sites and Rural Development project sites in Coamo. To celebrate Earth Day on April 22nd, USDA and PR dignitaries visited with Puerto Rico’s First Lady, Mrs. Wilma Pastrana Jiménez, at the La Fortaleza People’s Garden.

USDA StrikeForce National Coordinator, Max Finberg, describes initiative to audience.
USDA StrikeForce National Coordinator, Max Finberg, describes initiative to audience.
ASTC Fernando Arroyo, describes Guanica partnership to StrikeForce Team.
ASTC Fernando Arroyo, describes Guanica partnership to StrikeForce Team.