“WHAT IS THE PEOPLE’S GARDEN INITIATIVE? Secretary Vilsack began the People’s Garden Initiative – named in honor of President Lincoln’s description of USDA as the “People’s Department” – in 2009 as an effort to challenge employees to create gardens at USDA facilities. It has since grown into a collaborative effort of over 700 local and national organizations all working together to establish community and school gardens across the country. The simple act of planting a garden can help unite neighborhoods in a common effort and inspire locally-led solutions to challenges facing our country – from hunger to the environment.
HOW DID IT START? Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declared the grounds surrounding USDA Headquarters in Washington, DC the first People’s Garden on February 12, 2009 in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY BEHIND THE NAME? When President Lincoln founded USDA in 1862, he called it The People’s Department. USDA continues to honor his vision for a Department that serves the American people every day and in every way through The People’s Garden Initiative.
WHAT IS A PEOPLE’S GARDEN? People’s Gardens vary in size and type, but all are required to have three components in common. They must benefit the community, in some cases by creating recreational spaces and in others by providing a harvest for a local food bank or shelter. They must be collaborative – that is, the garden must be created and maintained by a partnership of local individuals, groups, or organizations. And third, they should incorporate sustainable practices. The gardens might use compost or mulch made by participants. They might contain native plants or encourage beneficial insects. They also might exemplify water conservation, for instance, capturing rain in a barrel to water the garden. Gardens located at private residences are not eligible to become People’s Gardens. You can declare an existing garden as a People’s Garden as long as it incorporates the three components.
WHERE ARE PEOPLE’S GARDENS LOCATED? People’s Gardens have expanded to all 50 states, three U.S. territories and eight foreign countries. They are located at faith-based centers, on federal leased or owned property, at schools and other places within the community. Search the People’s Gardens Interactive Map to find out where our gardens are located.”