Roundup: (Not Just) Farmers Only

A plumb of a deal • Farmers markets blooming • Wedding barn concerns • Department of Education fills rural outreach post

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Farmersonly.com is, ironically, not just for farmers. The online dating site, which started in 2005, caters not only to farmers, ranchers, and folks in rural areas, but also to those who respect the agrarian lifestyle, its founder says. Jerry Miller started the site as a way to connect people living in small towns and isolated areas. "When I started, it was a passion because I knew there was a need. When you talk to hundreds of people that are lonely in rural areas, it moves you," Miller said.

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A family in rural Maine is offering a scholarship to help a local person learn the plumbing trade, as the worker opens their business in town. Jackman, a town of 700-ish people, lost its only plumber to retirement. The closest plumbers now are 50 miles away. The family providing the scholarship isn’t expecting instant gratification, though:

“We know it takes several years to become a certified plumber, so we consider this an investment not only in the individual, but in the Jackman region itself,” said Sheryl Hughey Harth. “We have an electrician who is very busy, and we believe the community will support a plumber as well.”

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The number of farmers markets has more than doubled in the last 10 years, according to data from the Economic Research Service of USDA.

In 2014 there were 8,284 markets operating, up from 3,706 in 2004 and 1,755 in 1994. The markets are concentrated in the densely populated Northeast, Midwest and West Coast.

“The growing number of farmers markets could reflect increased demand for local and regional food products based on consumer perceptions of their freshness and quality, support for the local economy, environmental benefits, or other perceived attributes relative to food from traditional marketing channels,” according to the ERS.

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The list of problems ailing rural areas, which includes industrial pollution, insufficient public transportation, and poverty, has been amended. The newest item: wedding barns. The New York Times reports about the complaining neighbors of these celebratory structures. Mostly they fear noise, but some try to make a case for public safety.

“All these people want to have this rustic outdoor wedding in the country so they can get closer to nature, but that barn was built for storing hay,” said Jeff Hettmann, whose next-door neighbor operates a wedding barn in Glenmore, Wis., outside Green Bay. “It’s not designed to have 200 people jumping up and down and dancing in it.”

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Daily Yonder correspondent Carol Miller is featured in a nice write up in the Rio Grand, New Mexico, Sun. The piece covers her long and busy career promoting the health, development, and education of rural communities, especially ones in frontier areas.

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The U.S. Department of Education has a new head of rural outreach.

Texan Lucy Johnson joined the department as a deputy assistant secretary last week, according to an Department of Education announcement. The rural outreach post has been vacant since the departure of John White.

Kyle previously served two terms of as mayor of her hometown of Kyle, Texas, a fast-growing community of about 28,000 residents located 20 miles south of Austin.

 

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