On the day that commemorated Abraham Lincoln’s 200th
birthday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "broke pavement" on the inaugural USDA The People's Garden
during a ceremony on the grounds of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA
Why on Lincoln’s birthday? In 1862, President Lincoln founded the Department of Agriculture and referred to it as “The People’s Department.”
The People’s Garden will be built on a spot that was formerly paved. About 1250 square feet of pavement on the grounds of the USDA headquarters will be turned back to green, and 612 feet of that will be planted space — the rest will be grass. The spot is adjacent to the USDA Farmer’s Market.
What will be planted in The People’s Garden?
The garden will showcase conservation practices that all Americans can implement in their own backyards and green spaces. As a component of the garden, pollinator-friendly plantings will not only provide important habitat for bees and butterflies, but can serve as an educational opportunity to help people understand the vital role pollinators play in our food, forage and all agriculture.
While this isn’t quite the organic vegetable garden on the White House Lawn that groups like Eat the View
and The WhoFarm
are petitioning President Obama to create, it’s a sign that the new administration is serious about green spaces. Vilsack made that clear during the dedication of The People’s Garden.
"It is essential for the federal government to lead the way in enhancing and conserving our land and water resources," said Vilsack. "President Obama has expressed his commitment to responsible stewardship of our land, water and other natural resources, and one way of restoring the land to its natural condition is what we are doing here today — "breaking pavement" for The People's Garden."
The USDA headquarters isn’t the only USDA property getting greener. The goal is to create some kind of community garden at each USDA facility around the world.
The gardens will be designed to promote "going green" concepts, including landscaping and building design to retain water and reduce runoff; roof gardens for energy efficiency; utilizing native plantings and using sound conservation practices.
No word if these gardens are organic or if there will be much food planted in them, but they certainly are a sign that Washington is focusing on the environment.