People’s Garden sign displayed in garden

About People's Garden

The People’s Garden works with agencies and offices across the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and with federal, state and local partners to start and sustain gardens with the mission of growing healthy food, people and communities. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, Transportation and Marketing Program oversees the Initiative for the Department.

Our Impact confirms that the simple act of planting a garden can unite neighbors in a common effort and inspire locally led solutions to challenges facing our country - from hunger to climate change. People’s Gardens enable healthy eating, connect people to agriculture, demonstrate sustainable landscaping practices, and serve as launch pads for communities to begin selling locally-produced agricultural products at farmers markets and CSAs across America.

 

…the most valuable of all arts will be the art of deriving a comfortable subsistence from the smallest area of soil. 

Abraham Lincoln

 

Our History

The People's Garden is named in honor of USDA’s founder President Abraham Lincoln who described USDA as “The People’s Department”. It’s a description that is as true today as it was then.

The first “People’s Garden” was established at USDA Headquarters in Washington, DC on February 12, 2009 – Lincoln’s 200th birthday. Soon after, USDA employees across the country and around the world began building similar gardens at USDA facilities or assisting nearby communities with creating gardens. Thanks to public interest all Americans can now join the People’s Garden effort.

 

 

What is a People’s Garden?

School gardens, community gardens, urban farms, and small-scale agriculture projects in rural and urban areas are recognized as a “People’s Garden” by meeting three criteria.

  1. The garden must be a collaborative effort.

    Examples: groups working together with USDA agencies, food banks, Girl Scouts, Master Gardeners, conservation districts, etc. 

  2. The garden must benefit the community.

    Examples: providing food, beautification, wildlife habitat, education site, etc.

  3. The garden must incorporate sustainable practices.

    Examples: using native plant species, rain barrels, integrated pest management, xeriscaping, etc.

 

Types of People's Gardens

People’s Gardens can be located on federally owned or leased property, at schools, faith-based centers and other places within the community. They cannot be located at private residences. The garden being registered can be new or existing. People’s Gardens are different sizes and types based on the needs of the community, such as improving access to fresh food or planting milkweed and nectar sources for Monarchs and other butterflies.

Food Gardens

Grow food indoors or outside to increase access and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in urban and rural areas. Consider selling what’s grown to generate income. Donate excess to a local food pantry and help eliminate food waste.

Provide food, water, cover and a place for wildlife to raise their young. Increase the number of pollinators in your area by making conscience choices to include plants that provide essential habitat for bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, hummingbirds, an

Wildlife Habitat 

Provide food, water, cover and a place for wildlife to raise their young. Increase the number of pollinators in your area by making conscience choices to include plants that provide essential habitat for bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, hummingbirds, and other pollinators.

Conservation Project

Demonstrate an understanding of the value of soil, water, air and other natural resources and the importance of conserving them by gardening in a way that prevents erosion, maintains and enhances soil quality, and improves water quality and quantity.

Beautification

Plant a clean, green, and beautiful place to revitalize your community. Rethink the traditional beautification project of planting seasonal annuals for curb appeal and instead design a space with native species of flowering plants to enhance the biodiversity of your community and build a healthier ecosystem.

RootDownLA Cultivar Temiloluwa Salako shows off a grain plant called amaranth that is growing in one of the programs community gardens. Salako was recently accepted to Pitzer College after writing an essay about his experiences with this community food pr

Education

Turn tarmac, dry earth, mud and empty fields into hands-on learning environments at daycare centers, elementary, middle and high schools, colleges and universities. Align garden activities to lessons and subjects being taught in the classroom. 

The La Montanita Co-op Veteran Farm Project (VFP) funded through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Specialty Crop Grant program provides veterans workshops on sustainable farming practices, hands-on gardening

Training

Offer valuable job training and apprenticeships in forestry, agriculture, landscaping, and culinary arts to those experiencing barriers to employment so they can find and keep a good job. Teach the next generation of gardeners, farmers, ranchers, teachers and leaders what’s needed to succeed in a career and in life.