In a dramatic move to break with traditional agriculture (a little, let’s not get too hasty), the USDA on February 12 began breaking up pavement at their facility in Washington, D.C. to establish a community garden. From their press release :
“Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today “broke pavement” on the inaugural USDA The People’s Garden during a ceremony on the grounds of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) commemorating the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln. The Secretary declared the stretch of pavement permanently closed and returned back to green, and encouraged other Administration officials and the general public to join in to protect the Chesapeake watershed.
“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.”
I’m delighted by this, and tickled by the notion that Sec’ty Vilsack took a sledge hammer to break the pavement – it means he’s on his way to understanding the pain of gardening in Colorado. We have pavement too – only we call it soil. A further excerpt from the release:
“During today’s ceremony, Secretary Vilsack announced the goal of creating a community garden at each USDA facility worldwide. The USDA community garden project will include a wide variety of garden activities including Embassy window boxes, tree planting, and field office plots. The gardens will be designed to promote “going green” concepts, including landscaping and building design to retain water and reduce runoff; roof gardens for energy efficiency; utilizing native plantings and using sound conservation practices. ”
I’ve recently been to Washington, and they already have lovely planter boxes dotting the sidewalks. Actually, they’re anti-tank buffers in case anyone tries to drive their hummer through the door of the IRS or EPA, but because they didn’t want those ugly concrete blocks to look like fortification against the people, they festooned them with plants to soften their image.
How nice that they’ll be planted with food for visitors to eat, a kind of strolling salad bar for the masses. Still, the first step to bringing people back to growing food is a step in the right direction. So three cheers for Sec’ty Vilsack!