The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expanding its People’s Garden Initiative to include eligible gardens nationwide. School gardens, community gardens, urban farms, and small-scale agriculture projects in rural, suburban and urban areas can be recognized as a “People’s Garden” if they register on the USDA website and meet criteria including benefitting the community, working collaboratively, incorporating conservation practices and educating the public. Affiliate People’s Garden locations will be indicated on a map on the USDA website, featured in USDA communications, and provided with a People’s Garden sign.
“We welcome gardens nationwide to join us in the People’s Garden effort and all it represents,” said Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, “Local gardens across the country share USDA’s goals of building more diversified and resilient local food systems, empowering communities to come together around expanding access to healthy food, addressing climate change and advancing equity.”
About the Gardens
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.
People’s Gardens 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.
Secretary Vilsack added: “We encourage existing gardens and new gardens to join the movement. Growing local food benefits local communities in so many ways, and we offer technical resources to help. Also, it’s a great way to connect with your local USDA team members.”
How to Register
To learn more about People’s Garden or to register one, visit the People’s Garden webpage at this link. The location and information on each garden will be displayed on a map. USDA will send a “People’s Garden” sign to each garden and invite continued engagement through photos and information sharing. Gardens on federal property, such as USDA offices, are required to donate produce. We invite these gardens to report how much is being donated.
To be eligible, gardens:
- Benefit the community by providing food, green space, wildlife habitat, and education space.
- Are a collaborative effort. This can include groups working together with USDA agencies, food banks, after-school programs, Girl Scouts, Master Gardeners, conservation districts, etc.
- Incorporate conservation management practices, such as using native plant species, rain barrels, integrated pest management, and xeriscaping. (The process of landscaping, or gardening, that reduces or eliminates the need for irrigation.)
- Educate the public about sustainable gardening practices and the importance of local, diverse, and resilient food systems providing healthy food for the community.
New gardens will join the People’s Garden at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and 17 other flagship gardens established earlier this year.
(Photo by Zoe Schaeffer on Unsplash)