Abraham Lincoln described the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as “The People’s Department” and it’s fitting that our garden is named the People’s Garden. The garden was created by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on February 12, 2009 – Lincoln’s 200th birthday. The initiative was renewed in May 2022.
Starting at USDA’s National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and expanding to our 17 urban hubs across the nation and beyond, USDA’s People’s Gardens engage communities to grow fresh, healthy food and support a resilient, local food system; teach people how to garden using sustainable practices; and nurture habitat for pollinators, wildlife, and greenspace for neighbors to gather and enjoy.
The renewed USDA Headquarters People’s Garden features new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible raised beds and a picnic table, as well as a new pollinator garden and food forest. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Earth Team volunteers from D.C., Maryland, and Virginia installed the new beds, new soil, and plants.
“Students need opportunities to connect through real-world experiences – like working here today at the People’s Garden”, said Broadneck High School service learning liaison Stacy Roth. “And seeing the conservation of natural resources first-hand, as a priority in our nation’s capital, shows them they’re part of something that goes far beyond the walls of Broadneck High School.”
As of June 22, more than 50 volunteers have spent over 400 hours growing the Garden. Volunteers continue to help with new planting, weeding, maintenance, and harvest.
“Community participation was critical to reviving the garden and we couldn’t have such a successful project without all of the support,” said Laura Eddy, NRCS Maryland Earth Team Volunteer Coordinator.
Despite the garden’s small size and educational focus, over 140 pounds of radishes, lettuce, choy, mustard greens, and kale were harvested from the garden this spring and donated to DC Central Kitchen. During the summer, we hope to harvest tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, followed by pumpkins, watermelon, and sweet potatoes in the fall. All of the produce grown will be donated to the community.
Learn more about The USDA People’s Garden.