Yesterday was not only Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday, but also the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln. So, it’s fitting that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack broke “pavement” on the first U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) “People’s Garden” on the grounds of the USDA next to the USDA Farmer’s Market.
According to Vilsack, the People’s Garden is the first step the USDA is taking in celebrating Lincoln’s life, and he announced the goal of creating a community garden at each USDA facility worldwide. These plans include different types of gardens and plantings including Embassy window boxes, field office garden plots and tree planting.
In ordering the 1,250 square feet of pavement to be permanently closed and returned back to its natural green state, Vilsack encouraged the public and other Administration officials to join in and protect the Chesakpeake Bay watershed. The Chesapeake’s watershed is 64,000 square miles and the Bay supports over 3,600 species of plants, fish and animals.
“It is essential for the federal government to lead the way in enhancing and conserving our land and water resources,” said Vilsack. “President Obama has expressed his commitment to responsible stewardship of our land, water and other natural resources, and one way of restoring the land to its natural condition is what we are doing here today– ‘breaking pavement’ for The People’s Garden.”
Not only will the garden help in water management for the Chesapeake watershed, but all USDA gardens will be designed using “green” concepts including landscaping and building design to reduce water waste and runoff, the use of native plants and the creation of roof gardens for energy efficiency. The garden will also serve as a demonstration garden showcasing conservation practices that everyone can use in their own yards and green spaces including the use of pollinator-friendly plants to provide a habitat for bees and butterflies.
Lincoln’s birthday was chosen because he founded the Department of Agriculture in 1862, and it he called it “The People’s Department” in his last annual message to Congress.
To me this indicates that there’s a really good chance that the Obama Administration will plant an organic garden at the White House, and will be supportive of the Eat The View campaign I wrote about a couple of weeks ago.