Keep America Beautiful Partners with U.S. Department of Agriculture to Expand People's Garden Opportunities Nationwide
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and national nonprofit Keep America Beautiful announced a new collaborative effort to promote the creation of community gardens across America. The effort will focus on establishing gardens in communities where a lack of access to fresh and healthy foods creates increased risks of food insecurity and obesity risks. The partnership will support and sustain community produce gardens in both rural and urban area low-income neighborhoods, and neighborhoods in food deserts.
“This important partnership will help further the USDA People’s Garden Initiative and bring community gardens to neighborhoods that lack access to fresh and healthy produce," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "Community gardens provide our kids with the opportunity to engage in physical activity while learning about agriculture and nutrition, and they ultimately make our neighborhoods better places to live and grow."
USDA Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration Oscar
Gonzales Jr. joined Keep America Beautiful President and CEO Matthew McKenna and
other community leaders at the People’s Garden at U.S. Department of
Agriculture to celebrate the new partnership. The partnership is a highlight of
Keep America Beautiful’s “Get Growing” initiative – a multi-year, multi-million
dollar investment in the capacity of local organizations to support community
gardens, native species planting, and vacant lot restoration.
“With more than 1,200 affiliates and partnering organizations in communities nationwide, Keep America Beautiful looks forward to connecting the People’s Garden Initiative with the people and places that will benefit from the extensive knowledge and resources of the Department and our affiliate leaders,” said McKenna.
In addition to providing direct access to fresh and healthy foods, community produce gardens provide opportunities to educate participants about sustainable agriculture, integrated pest management, soil and water conservation, healthy eating, and agricultural marketing. Community produce gardens also provide an opportunity for the youth of the community to engage in physical activity while learning about agriculture and nutrition. As an added benefit, community produce gardens help green and beautify communities, often through re-use and restoration of vacant lots.
The People's Garden Initiative was launched by Secretary Vilsack on February 12, 2009, as an effort to challenge USDA employees to create gardens at USDA facilities. An idea that started with one garden to commemorate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth has grown into an international movement. The collaborative effort unites 700 local and national organizations all working together to establish school gardens, community gardens and small-scale agriculture projects in urban and rural areas, collectively referred to as community-based agriculture.
USDA encourages communities to start a People's Garden and invites people to share their harvest with those in need. Through the Initiative's 'Share Your Harvest' campaign, over 1 million pounds of fresh produce has been donated to neighborhood food pantries, kitchens and shelters – which help improve access to healthy, affordable food at a local level.
For more information on how to register your new or existing community garden as a People's Garden, go to the People's Garden website at www.usda.gov/peoplesgarden.