Keep America Beautiful and the Department of Agriculture Team Up to Grow Nearly 700 People's Gardens
STAMFORD, Conn., Dec. 7, 2010 – Keep America Beautiful (KAB) affiliate organizations have responded to the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) call to action in sustaining nearly 700 community gardens this past year as partners in the USDA's People's Garden Initiative. These gardens are in addition to the nearly 600 People's Gardens created by USDA employees.
"Real and effective change starts small and it starts in our communities," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "With the help of Keep America Beautiful we can ensure that the ideas behind the People's Garden are adopted and improved upon in communities across the country."
"Keep America Beautiful affiliates have always been leaders in beautification and community greening at the grassroots level," said Keep America Beautiful President and CEO Matthew McKenna. "The People's Gardens initiative, and our partnership with the USDA, is a demonstration of how the work of our affiliates fosters civic pride and sustainable gardening throughout the country."
Secretary Vilsack and People's Garden Director Livia Marques invited Keep America Beautiful to join this sustainable garden movement at KAB's 2009 National Conference in Washington, D.C. Keep America Beautiful, the nation's largest community improvement network, responded by engaging nearly 200 of its national network of affiliates in this effort to incorporate sustainable conservation practices.
The People's Gardens program was launched by Secretary Vilsack on Feb. 12, 2009, to commemorate the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln's birthday. The initiative is an effort by the USDA to challenge its employees to establish People's Gardens at USDA facilities or help communities create gardens through collaborative efforts. Each 'People's Garden' can vary in size and type, but they must include the following three components:
1. Benefit the Community: Gardens benefit communities in many different ways. They can create spaces for leisure or recreation that the public can use, provide a harvest to a local food bank, be a wildlife friendly landscape, or be a rain garden to absorb storm water run-off and protect the soil from erosion.
2. Be Collaborative: The garden must be created and maintained by a partnership of local individuals, groups, or organizations.
3. Incorporate Sustainable Practices: The garden must include gardening practices that nurture, maintain and protect the environment such as:
- Capturing rainwater in rain barrels
- Composting and mulching
- Planting native species
- Encouraging beneficial insects that feed on destructive pests
About the United States Department of Agriculture's People's Garden
The People's Garden initiative is an effort by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which challenges its employees to establish People's Gardens at USDA facilities worldwide or help communities create gardens. People's Gardens vary in size and type, but all have a common purpose - to help the community they're within and the environment. For more information, go to www.usda.gov/peoplesgarden.
About Keep America Beautiful
Keep America Beautiful, Inc., established in 1953, is the nation's largest volunteer-based community action and education organization. This national nonprofit forms public-private partnerships and programs that engage individuals to take greater responsibility for improving their community environments. For additional information, visit www.kab.org.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).