When were on the Mall last month for the Climate Rally, my husband and I passed a vegetable/herb garden on the grounds of the US Department of Agriculture. It looked like a large, very well-kept version of a garden you would find in someone’s yard. It was the first time I had noticed it.
Then, a couple of days ago, I was talking to a friend who works for the USDA who told me that the gardens are part of their People’s Garden Initiative. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, established the garden on February 12, 2009 in commemoration of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday. Vilsack challenged all USDA employees to create similar gardens at USDA facilities worldwide, or to help their communities create gardens in vacant lots, schools, or churches.
In addition to the sustainably managed gardens that I happened across, the USDA headquarters is also offering programming from May to August, including workshops and youth programs, all of which are free and open to the public. The workshops will cover topics such as composting, beekeeping, green roofs and natural pest control.
The USDA also has a farmers market, which is held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, every Friday from June 4 through October 29. It is located in USDA’s parking lot, corner of 12th Street and Independence Avenue, SW.
For those of you who are not located conveniently to Washington, DC, the People’s Garden Initiative website is a great resource where you will find links to gardening tips, recipes, healthy eating tips, and more.
You can download a PDF version of the People’s Garden Program Guide, which lists all the upcoming festivals, gardening workshops and youth programs being held from May through August. To register for one of the Healthy Garden Workshops call (202) 690-3898. And to schedule a guided tour of the People’s Garden or Program for Youth call (202) 708-0082.