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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces 2010 'People's Garden' Summer Programs for the General Public

Submitted by Food Democracy Now on May 11, 2010 - 11:12am

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced "The People's Garden" healthy garden series summer program with a full range of programming for both kids and adults. The Healthy Garden Workshops will primarily be for adults, while the Growing Healthy Kids will be offered for young people.

"These workshops are open to everyone and demonstrate how easy it is to grow a sustainable garden no matter where you live," said Vilsack. "We are proud to have leading experts from within and outside of USDA lend their experience for creating and managing a garden from the ground up."

Beginning May 7, the Healthy Garden Workshops will occur rain or shine every Friday from noon to 1 p.m. in the garden or under a tent on the north lawn of USDA's Jamie L. Whitten building. Each month of the healthy garden series will focus on a different theme: May: gardening from the ground up; June: celebrating pollinators; July: plant diseases; and August: types of gardens. Pre-registration will be required for this series as seats will be limited to 50 participants. To reserve a seat, those interested in participating in the workshop must call (202) 690-3989 to register between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Growing Healthy Kids youth series will be hands-on learning programs based upon the Junior Master Gardener curriculum. There are three programs: Plant Pals, Tops or Bottoms and U-B the Judge. Plant Pals will help curious-minded children discover why certain plants are better neighbors in the garden the others. Tops or Bottoms will encourage young gardeners to use their knowledge of plant structures in identifying which part of the plant is eaten. And U-B the Judge will give youth a chance to evaluate fruits and vegetables based on color, texture, taste and smell. Each program is 60 minutes long and will be held outside every Wednesday at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. from May through October. Youth programs are cancelled if it rains. Space is limited to 30 youth and they must be at least 5 years old. Call (202) 708-0082 to register a group for one of the three programs.

Last year, 'The People's Garden' was unveiled and opened to the public as a living exhibit of what USDA does every day. It incorporates sustainable practices, it is a collaborative effort and it benefits the community.

'The People's Garden' initiative is an effort by USDA which challenges its employees to establish gardens at USDA facilities worldwide or help communities create gardens. A 'People's Garden' can vary in size and type, but all have a common purpose - to help the community they are within and the environment.

A 'People's Garden' must include the following three components:

1. Benefit your community: Gardens benefit communities in many different ways. They can create spaces for leisure or recreation that the public can use, provide a harvest to a local food bank or shelter, be a wildlife friendly landscape or be a rain garden to absorb storm water run-off and protect the soil from erosion.

2. Be collaborative: The garden must be a collaborative effort between other volunteers, neighbors or organizations within your community. Local partnerships could carry out the mission of a People's Garden.

3. Incorporate sustainable practices: the garden should include gardening practices that nurture, maintain and protect the environment such as:

  • Capturing rainwater in rain barrels
  • Composting and mulching
  • Planting native species
  • Encouraging beneficial insects that feed on destructive pests

To date, more than 300 gardens have been designated as 'The People's Garden' across the country.

More information about 'The People's Garden' initiative can be found at or follow the initiative for real-time updates at Information also is available on the USDA Facebook page at and photos are available at Information on the 2010 Peoples Garden Summer Program Guide.

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