Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack planted a tree to announce the reopening of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) People’s Garden Initiative. People’s Gardens across the country will grow fresh, healthy food and support resilient, local food systems; teach people how to garden using conservation practices; nurture habitat for pollinators and wildlife and create greenspace for neighbors. The garden at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. will be joined by 17 flagship gardens located in urban communities nationwide, including Cleveland, Ohio.
“The simple act of planting a garden can have big impacts — from building a more diversified and resilient local food system to empowering communities to come together around healthy food access, climate change, and equity,” said Secretary Vilsack, who unveiled the upgraded garden flanking the National Mall. “We’re committed to our priorities, and we are leading by example.”
School gardens, community gardens, urban farms, and small-scale agriculture projects in rural and urban areas can be recognized as a “People’s Garden” if they:
• Benefit the community by providing food, green space, wildlife habitat, education space.
• Are a collaborative effort. This can include groups working together with USDA agencies, food banks, Girl Scouts, Master Gardeners, conservation districts, etc.
• Incorporate conservation management practices, such as using native plant species, rain barrels, integrated pest management, xeriscaping.
• Educate the public about sustainable gardening practices and the importance of local, diverse, and resilient food systems providing healthy food for the community.
• USDA plans to expand the initiative to other communities later this year, including Cleveland. More information about the People’s Garden in Cleveland will be available in the coming months.
• To watch these gardens grow, visit our People’s Garden Webpage or follow the hashtag #PeoplesGarden on USDA’s social media channels.
USDA originally launched the People’s Garden Initiative in 2009. It’s named for the “People’s Department,” former President Abraham Lincoln’s nickname for USDA, which was established during his presidency in 1862.