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Friday, May 1, 2009

Organic Gardens Thrive in DC: USDA People's Garden

The White House Kitchen Garden has started a fresh veggie trend in Washington, DC.  The US Department of Agriculture announced expanded plans for the People's Garden surrounding their headquarters on the Mall last month to celebrate Earth Day.
The current landscape around the Whitten Building includes grass lawns, flower borders, and concrete.  The new plans for the sprawling 6-acre space include a 1,300 square foot vegetable garden - slightly bigger than the White House Garden, flower gardens, and bioswales that help reduce pollution.
The organic garden will feature 3 different types of planting - in-ground, raised beds, and containers - to demonstrate the versatility of organic farming.  The garden is designed to be an educational tool for both farmers and the general public, but will also supply fresh, organic vegetables to local food banks.  
The People's Garden will produce a variety of seasonal foods.  Squash and tomatoes are part of the summer harvest line-up, while kale, spinach, and lettuce are a few plants planned for cooler months.  The garden will also include a traditional American Indian planting called a 'three sisters garden', featuring pole beans, corn, and squash in a sustainable arrangement.  
Organic farming is the first step to a healthier nation and a sustainable planet.  The USDA People's Garden shows us just how easy it is to grow our own fresh fruits and vegetables at home - if you're not sure what's in your soil (chemicals, contaminants, etc.), consider a raised planting area; when space is a concern, plant a container garden.  
The garden's visionary, secretary Tom Vilsack, said to the Washington Post, "... nothing tastes better than a tomato you grow."  A small, organic container garden is a great place to start wherever you are!

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