Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Should "People's Garden Project" be about veggies?

When U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Tom Vilsack whipped out his trusty old jackhammer and started demolishing a slab of concrete in front of the USDA headquarters in honor of Lincoln’s Birthday recently, it’s not likely he envisioned the excitement, misunderstanding and coverage (on the blogosphere ini particular) that would follow.

Apparently, the ceremony and obligatory photo-op was meant to demonstrate the USDA’s commitment to sustainable landscaping. The press release issued by the USDA on Feb. 12 referred to the event as the establishment of “The People’s Garden Project,” which excited a whole lot of people who assumed somehow that the 1,250-sq.-ft. plot would be planted in an edible garden — vegetables and fruit trees, whose bounty would be donated to local food banks.

No, that wasn’t the intent at all, says the Feb. 12 the press release”

“The USDA People's Garden announced today will eliminate 1,250 square feet of unnecessary paved surface at the USDA headquarters and return the landscape to grass. The changes signal a removal of impervious surfaces and improvement in water management that is needed throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

The new garden will add 612 square feet of planted space to an existing garden traditionally planted with ornamentals. The garden will showcase conservation practices that all Americans can implement in their own backyards and green spaces. As a component of the garden, pollinator-friendly plantings will not only provide important habitat for bees and butterflies, but can serve as an educational opportunity to help people understand the vital role pollinators play in our food, forage and all agriculture. The garden plot is adjacent to the site of the USDA Farmer's Market.”

Will the garden be planted in grass and ornamentals, as originally planned, or in vegetables and fruit trees as a whole lot of people want?

That’s unclear, but there's a chance it will. Then again, maybe not. That's the take-home I got from reading the comments from the USDA on the blog Obama Foodorama (click on the headlne) that gave the ceremony and confusion resulting from the public’s perception of the concrete-bustin’ ceremony a pretty thorough going over recently.

Which would you like to see, traditional "sustainable" landscape of grass and ornamentals? Or vegetable and fruit garden on the USDA property? — Ron Hall

1 comment:

Alison Peck said...

Let's have our cake and eat it to...A beautiful edible landscape with ornamentals and edibles.