USDA Supports Community Gardens, Grows Vegetables

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Aug. 6 encouraged Americans to connect with the land, the food it grows and their local communities by proclaiming Aug. 23-29 National Community Gardening Week.

A community garden is an opportunity to educate everyone about where food comes from — whether that is a farmers market or a garden, and is important to increasing generations of healthy eaters. Community gardens can be anywhere and in any configuration — one community plot or many individual plots.

"Community gardens provide numerous benefits including opportunities for local food production, resource conservation, and neighborhood beautification," said Vilsack. "But they also promote family and community interaction and enhance opportunities to eat healthy, nutritious foods. Each of these benefits is something we can and should strive for."

Resources available to community gardens through the USDA include grants, site technical assistance and informational materials on gardening and food production methods.

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 170 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.

USDA plans to reduce stormwater runoff with rain gardens, green roofs and bioretention practices. USDA also is reducing its impervious surfaces and enhancing the USDA's Farmers Market. For more information about The People's Garden, visit www.usda.gov/peoplesgarden.

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