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USDA Announces _People_s Garden_ in Maryland - Supports Agriculture Secretary Vilsack_s _Challenge to

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Contact:
Alyn Kiel (301) 734-5222

Supports Agriculture Secretary Vilsack's Challenge to Build People's Gardens at every USDA Facility

“Last year, I decided to visibly remind folks that gardening is at the front and center of what we do here at USDA,” said Secretary Vilsack. “To have ‘People's Gardens' in every state is a tremendous achievement and just one example of the dedication and commitment of all USDA employees in collaboration with their communities. But the ideas behind the ‘People's Garden' were not born here in Washington - and we will continue to ensure that they are adopted and improved upon in communities across the country.”

To meet this goal, the Secretary challenged all employees to create a ‘People's Garden' at their USDA office or in their local communities. USDA is partnering with hundreds of organizations at the local level and most of these partners are recipients of the food grown in the gardens. Last year, with only 124 ‘People's Gardens,' USDA donated over 34,000 pounds of produce to local charities.

USDA agencies are involved in building these gardens, many of which are maintained through the collaboration of multiple agencies with their communities. The locations of these numerous ‘People's Gardens' can be viewed on-line at www.pubinfo.usda.gov/garden via a public map. Information about each garden also can be viewed by clicking on the map markers.

The APHIS' ‘People's Garden' consists of a 1,000 square foot vegetable garden that is maintained by employee volunteers. All produce harvested from the garden will be delivered to a local live-in alcohol and drug rehabilitation center run by the Salvation Army, which houses and feeds 150 program participants. To help encourage healthier eating habits among the program's participants, the APHIS garden is focused on growing vegetables for the center's salad bar, such as tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers.

USDA is also collaborating with First Lady Michelle Obama to emphasize the link between gardening and healthy lifestyles, and a key component is educating our youth through the use of gardens. The White House Kitchen Garden and the ‘People's Gardens' are important tools for teaching our children about healthy eating and active lifestyles. These gardens also emphasize community service and civic involvement by donating fresh, healthy and locally grown vegetables to local food pantries.

Last year, the ‘People's Garden' in Washington, D.C., was unveiled and opened to the public as a living exhibit of what USDA does every day. Today, ‘People's Gardens' around the country are demonstrating the connections between providing access to nutritious food and protecting the landscape where that food is grown, while serving our communities and helping those in need. These gardens provide educational opportunities for children and adults about nutrition and sustainability as well as introduce younger generations to agriculture and fresh foods.

More information about ‘The People's Garden' initiative can be found at www.usda.gov/peoplesgarden or follow the initiative for real-time updates at twitter.com/peoplesgarden. Information also is available on the USDA Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USDA and photos are available at www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov. Blogs from the gardeners involved in these “People's Gardens” are featured each Friday at www.usda.gov/blog/usda.

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272, or
(202) 720-6382 (TDD).



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