Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The People's Garden

"The People's Garden Initiative is an effort by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) which challenges its employees to establish People's Gardens at USDA facilities worldwide or help communities create gardens. People's Gardens vary in size and type, but all have a common purpose - to benefit the community and incorporate sustainable practices."
One of the bosses at our local USDA station was chatting with his co-workers about this initiative. The latter suggested setting up a demonstration garden, but the former had a greater ambition: production.

With a small army and a little cash to cover field fees, we can knock out planting and harvesting in a day or two each and give thousands of pounds of food to our local food bank. The USDA allows its employees to volunteer their time for projects like this so we can even do it during the week.

We donated a ton of sweet corn, tomatoes and peppers last year but it didn't really seem like the best use of our efforts - a ton of fruit rotted in the field even with multiple harvest dates. This year we'll probably stick to less perishable staples like potatoes and winter squash - especially since we won't have money to spend on pesticide sprays or fences this year. We're hoping to set a precedent. Supposedly it's so well established in the Pacific division that all the stations compete to see who can give away the most food.

The boss is gonna ask for some advice on crops to grow from his contacts with the Detroit new farming movement.

Got any suggestions yourself?

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