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People's Garden (USA)

As of June 2010, 'People's Gardens' exist in all 50 states, two U.S. territories, and three foreign countries. There are more than 400 'People's Gardens' across the country. This is a significant milestone in 'The People's Garden' initiative since USDA Secretary Vilsack broke ground one year ago at USDA headquarters in Washington, DC. The Secretary challenged all employees to create a 'People's Garden' at their USDA office or in their local communities. USDA is partnering with hundreds of organizations at the local level and most of these partners are recipients of the food grown in the gardens. Last year, with only 124 'People's Gardens', USDA donated over 34,000 pounds of produce to local charities.

Last year, the 'People's Garden' in Washington, D.C. was unveiled and opened to the public as a living exhibit of what USDA does every day. Today, 'People's Gardens' around the country are demonstrating the connections we can make between providing access to nutritious food, while protecting the landscape where that food is grown, serving our communities, and helping those in need. These gardens provide educational opportunities for children and adults about nutrition and sustainability as well as introduce younger generations to agriculture and fresh foods.

Each '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. More information about The People's Garden