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.
“Real and effective change starts small and it starts in our communities,” says 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.”
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 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.
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.