If you visit USDA this summer and fall, or stop by the Farmers Market on Fridays, you’ll have a chance to learn a bit more about modern farming and ranching – both conventional and organic.

“The garden is going to highlight some of the innovation in agriculture from a precision perspective,” noted Greg Ibach, USDA's undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, during an interview with Agri-Pulse. “We are going to use the garden as an opportunity to highlight some of the things farmers and ranchers do every day -  all year long - to be able to produce food for consumers."

The effort is part of a two-year cooperative agreement with the Farm Journal Foundation (FJF) and USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to share the story of how food travels from seed to table through a new Modern Ag Garden.

Ibach says we “already have 8 different iPads set up to help educate consumers about how food is produced” but other displays will showcase soil moisture monitors to inform how farmers only irrigate when they really need to provide water to the crops and “how we are trying to get more crop per drop of water.” Another exhibit will focus on how farmers scout for pests before applying pesticides.

Ibach said the effort got off to “a bit of a late start,” but crops and displays will rotate throughout the year and there will be a lot of educational opportunities on Friday during the Farmers Market – which is co-located next to the garden on the east side of USDA's Whitten building – to “expand the garden’s reach.”

He says the gardens will occupy the same amount of space as in the past but will no longer be solely organic. “We’re going to be able to tell the stories about both production methods.”

“Each summer hundreds of thousands of Americans travel to Washington, D.C., to learn about our history as a nation,” said Tricia Beal, CEO of Farm Journal Foundation. She says a central component of the visitor experience in the Modern Ag Garden will be the video-based “Voice of the Farmer,” which shares the story of agriculture "through the authentic and relatable voices of working farmers and ranchers." A mobile phone-based walking tour of the Modern Ag Garden – narrated by farmers and ranchers — will be available 24/7.

 Farm Journal’s Trust in Food platform and The National Corn Growers Association are partners, directly supporting FJF in this program.

For more news, go to www.Agri-Pulse.com.