Posts Tagged ‘community gardens’

The People’s Garden

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack celebrated Lincoln’s birthday by establishing the inaugural USDA People’s Garden at the agency’s headquarters. In the words of the USDA, “The Secretary declared the stretch of pavement permanently closed and returned back to green.” 

At the ceremony, the Secretary announced the goal of creating a community garden at each USDA facility worldwide. These will include ”a wide variety of garden activities,” including embassy window boxes, tree planting, and field office plots. They will be designed to promote “going green concepts,” including landscaping and building design to retain water and reduce runoff; roof gardens for energy efficiency; native plantings; and sound conservation practices.

So, here’s what we know about the inaugural “People’s Garden” so far: It will add 612 square feet of planted space to an existing garden traditionally planted with ornamentals. It will also eliminate 1,250 square feet of unnecessary paved surface at the USDA headquarters and return the landscape to grass. Grass? You’d think the agency that represents farmers could do better than that.

Some interesting facts: Abraham Lincoln founded the Department of Agriculture in 1862 and referred to it as “The People’s Department” in his last annual message to Congress. In 1860, farmers comprised 58 percent of the American labor force, compared to less than 1 percent today. The USDA’s 2009 budget is about $95 billion and includes a mishmash of mandatory and discretionary programs. You can find out how the agency is spending the money here.