USDA opens People’s Garden Initiative to gardens nationwide

The US Department of Agriculture is expanding its People’s Garden Initiative to include more eligible gardens nationwide.

School gardens, community gardens, urban farms, and small farming projects in rural, suburban, and urban areas can be recognized as a community garden if they register on the USDA website and meet criteria, including community benefit, collaboration, and incorporation of conservation practices and education the public.

People’s Garden partner locations are shown on a map on the USDA website, are featured in USDA notices, and have a People’s Garden sign.

“We welcome gardens across the state to join us in the effort for the public garden and all that it represents,” said Jerry Raynor, state conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service in Indiana. “Local gardens across the state share the USDA’s goals of building more diverse and resilient local food systems, empowering communities to come together to expand access to healthy food, address climate change and promote equity.”

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The USDA originally launched the initiative in 2009. It is named for the People’s Department, former President Abraham Lincoln’s nickname for the USDA, which was established during his presidency in 1862.

People’s Gardens grow fresh, healthy food and support resilient local food systems, teach people how to garden using conservation practices, nurture habitats for pollinators and wildlife, and create green spaces for neighbors.

The simple act of planting a garden can have big impacts, from building a more diverse and resilient local food system to empowering communities to address issues like food access and climate change.

For example, many low-income urban areas lack grocery stores and access to nutritious foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables. Urban farming empowers people to fight hunger and poverty in their own communities by growing fresh, nutritious food and encouraging healthy dietary changes.

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Today, 15% of the world’s food is grown in urban areas. These gardens create jobs, create green spaces that unite neighborhoods, and reduce the distance food travels from farm to table, which is better for the plate and the planet.

“The simple act of planting a garden can have major impacts, from building a more diverse and resilient local food system to empowering communities to address issues like access to food in areas of the state where it’s an issue,” said Julia Wickard, Civil Servants Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Indiana.

“Gardens grow fresh, healthy food and teach people how to plant and harvest using sustainable practices, promoting habitat for pollinators and wildlife, and green spaces for neighbors to gather and enjoy,” she said.

To learn more about People’s Garden or to register one, visit Location and information about each garden is shown on a map. The USDA will send each garden a People’s Garden sign and encourage further engagement through photos and information sharing.

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Gardens are eligible:

– Benefit from the community by providing food, green space, wildlife habitat and educational space.

-Are a collaborative effort. This may include groups working with USDA agencies, food banks, after-school programs, Girl Scouts, master gardeners, conservation districts, etc.

-Incorporate conservation management practices, such as B. the use of native plant species, rain barrels, integrated pest management, xeriscaping.

– Educating the public about sustainable gardening practices and the importance of local, diverse and resilient food systems that provide healthy food to the community.

New gardens will complement the People’s Garden at USDA headquarters in Washington, DC and 17 other flagship gardens created earlier this year.

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