The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Library (NAL) has launched a new digital exhibit named “Small Agriculture.” This exhibit showcases three small-scale farming and niche agricultural initiatives that USDA has supported since its establishment. The exhibit features—
1. The School Garden: focusing on scientific aspects of plants, food production, marketing food products, engaging with the natural world, being outdoors and taking responsibility for your school garden.
2. Subsistence Homesteads: a Federal housing program created in 1933 as a response to the Great Depression aimed at improving the living conditions of people coming from overcrowded urban centers, while simultaneously giving them a new opportunity to experience small-scale farming and home ownership.
3. Victory Gardens and Farms: initiatives carried out to increase the supply and quality of fresh food for the domestic U.S. population during World War II.
The School Garden section includes several digitized NAL historical publications, including a 1910 Tuskegee Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin written by George Washington Carver, “Nature Study and Gardening for Rural Schools.” Carver contended that school gardens should be managed as partnerships among students created and managed through written contracts, like this one appearing on page 6 of the Bulletin:
We agree to:
1. Raise vegetables on one of the plots set apart for us to garden.
2. Follow as best we can the direction of our teacher.
3. Share equally in the expense, labor and profits of the garden.
NAL is part of USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and serves as an extensive resource for agricultural information. For more information on this and other exhibits, please visit the NAL website at www.nal.usda.gov/exhibits.