USDA People's Garden showcases local food production
On June 21st, 2022, members of the Ag team at the Netherlands Embassy in Washington D.C. visited the USDA’s National Headquarters on the National Mall to work as volunteers in the USDA’s People’s Garden. The Ag team volunteered alongside members of the USDA as well as Mrs. Christie Vilsack, the wife of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Focus on local healthy food production
The People’s Garden was started in February of 2009 by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, during his first tenure as Secretary of the USDA. Since than it has expanded to 17 urban hubs across the United States. It aims to empower communities to participate in local food production, provide diversity/resiliency to local food systems, educate the public on the benefits of sustainable agriculture, and provide a habitat/greenspace for wildlife (pollinators) and neighbors to enjoy. The type and size of a garden is dependent on/tailored to the needs of a given community and is only recognized as a “People’s Garden” if they benefit the community, are a collaborative effort, incorporate sustainable practices, and lastly, spread awareness of the importance surrounding local and resilient sources of healthy food.
“I encourage you to participate and be involved. Real and effective action starts small and it starts with our communities”- Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary
Harvest is donated to local food banks
The People’s Garden in DC grows a tremendous variety of products, including tomatoes, peppers, apples, pears, zucchinis, corn, carrots, blueberries, watermelons and so much more. It is also home to a variety of flowers, including pollinator plantings to both attract bees for pollination and conserve natural resources. All produce, with the goal of a minimum of 1000 lbs. per growing season, is donated to local non-profit community kitchens, such as the DC Central Kitchen. With this initiative, the USDA hopes to inspire others, including US Embassies abroad and foreign embassies in Washington D.C., to start their own People’s Gardens.
To learn more
Additional information regarding the USDA’s People’s Garden, as well as an example of a local community kitchen where the produce is donated, may be found on the following websites: