AGRICULTURE SECRETARY VILSACK ESTABLISHES FIRST USDA VOLUNTEER PROGRAM FOR THE PEOPLE'S GARDEN INITIATIVE
WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2009 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today established a department-wide U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) volunteer program to encourage individuals to volunteer with the People's Garden Initiative. The People's Garden, a USDA domestic and international initiative, helps illustrate the many ways that USDA works to provide a sustainable, safe and nutritious food supply while protecting and preserving the landscape where that food is produced.
"The People's Garden demonstrates the many benefits of local production and local consumption, and showcases some of the ways that USDA engages Americans across the country every day," said Vilsack. "I'd like to encourage everyone who works for USDA to look for opportunities to participate in the people's garden effort at their local USDA offices or other community gardens in their communities."
On Aug. 6, Vilsack encouraged Americans to connect with the land and their local communities by proclaiming August 23-29, National Community Gardening Week. Earlier this year, Vilsack broke ground on the 'People's Garden' – a vegetable garden on USDA property that recently was expanded to include sustainable landscaping for the entire grounds. Since May 21, USDA has harvested and donated more than 300 pounds of produce to the DC Central Kitchen. The DC Central Kitchen offers job training in culinary and food service skills to DC's homeless.
The People's Garden incorporates sustainable practices to educate the public about practical ways to enhance and conserve land and water resources in the United States. It is designed to provide a sampling of USDA's efforts throughout the world as well as teach others how to nurture, maintain and protect a healthy landscape. The garden concepts that USDA is practicing serves as a living example of how to provide healthy food, air and water for people and communities as well as food and shelter for wildlife, while improving soil health and water quality.
The Food and Agriculture Act of 1981 (7 U.S.C. 2272) authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to establish volunteer programs. Volunteer opportunities must be made available to all interested persons without regard to race, color, creed, age (except as provided herein), sex, disabling condition, sexual orientation or any nonmerit factor.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272(voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).