August 4, 2009. The People’s Garden project continues to grow. Earlier this year, the grounds surrounding the USDA Whitten Building in Washington, D.C. began the transformation from grassy and parking areas to a sustainable landscape dubbed The People’s Garden – see my previous post for more background information. The project’s progress is evident in photos taken on July 17.
I’m particularly partial to how The People’s Garden design incorporates food production into a visually pleasing design – veggie gardens can be beautiful. The photo here shows a cherry tomato (top), eggplant (right), and globe basil and other basil (center) grown amongst perennial iris and lavender and annual daisy and heliotrope plants.
As of July 30, The People’s Garden has donated 170 pounds of produce – lettuce, peas, kale, beets, radishes, turnips, spinach, collards, arugula, cilantro, Swiss chard, parsley, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, peppers, and squash – to the DC Central Kitchen, an organization that provided job training in culinary and food service skills to homeless people.
Besides building The People’s Garden as a sustainable landscape model, the USDA offers weekly Healthy Garden Workshops, from noon to 12:30 pm, for anyone attending the USDA Farmer’s Market on Fridays. The workshops, held rain or shine, continue through September (schedule at link above). Topics still to be covered include attracting pollinators, bat boxes, maximizing harvest, making and using compost, using fertilizers, and fall maintenance.
Now, the USDA has opened its first roof top garden at its Economic Research Service offices. This garden will feature native, flowering perennial plants, create habitat for pollinators, and increase green space in its urban environment.
Follow these and future People’s Garden Initiative projects on the USDA website. From a gardener’s point of view, it’s very refreshing to watch a federal agency lead by example.