by Margaret Campbell, Senior Advisor, Natural Resources Conservation Service
Gardens bring communities together, whether they are urban, suburban, or rural. USDA’s People’s Garden movement is growing, and we’d like your garden to be a part of it. So far, more than 500 gardens have signed up to be designated as People’s Gardens, from nearly every state in the U.S. and some communities abroad.
People’s Gardens are of different sizes and types, including school gardens, community gardens, urban farms, and small-scale agriculture projects in rural and urban areas. What they have in common is their mission to build diverse and resilient local food systems and empower communities to address issues like nutrition access and climate change.
Abraham Lincoln called USDA “The People’s Department”, and the People’s Garden initiative aims to connect people across the country and internationally who are collaborating on gardening projects in their own communities. People’s Gardens can take many different forms, including food-producing gardens, wildlife habitats, conservation projects, beautification projects for community spaces, and education and training spaces.
People’s Gardens can be located at schools, faith-based centers, federally owned or leased property, and other places within the community. They cannot be located at private residences. Gardens can be recognized as a “People’s Garden” if they:
- Benefit the community by providing food, beautification, arts, wildlife habitat, education, green space, tree canopy, recreation, and/or volunteer opportunities.
- Are a collaborative effort involving neighbors, co-workers, food pantries, master gardeners, conservation districts, USDA agencies, veterans, youth organizations, seniors, faith-based groups, or others.
- Incorporate sustainable practices such as rain barrels or micro-irrigation, composting, cover crops, pest management, bat houses or insect hotels, and/or native plants.
- Educate the public about sustainable practices and the benefit of local food systems through signage, classes, events, outreach materials, websites, and youth field trips.
Registering as a People’s Garden helps community gardens to connect with one another and with members of the community who are interested. Gardens that choose to register are listed on an interactive map on the USDA website and will receive a “People’s Garden” sign to display.
Are you interested in having a People’s Garden in your community? Learn more at usda.gov/peoples-garden.