|Vilsack's statement at the event was:
"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 didn't see pictures but I expect he was smoking a joint and had flowers in his hair. Oh wait - I guess I had missed the next paragraph of the news release. The garden was planted on Lincoln's 200th birthday, and Lincoln founded the USDA and named it "The People's Department." Damn, so it's just a historical reference, and not necessarily a nod to the hippies of this country that we might be seeing the change we need at USDA any time this century.
Here are the rest of the pertinent details... all good ones.
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.
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.
Even if Vilsack won't be present at the next anti-war protest wearing beads and John Lennon glasses, he's still making at least a symbolic effort to changing the department in all of the right ways. And from some poking around on the USDA site, it appears like Vilsack's new garden is more than just symbolic. The link in the last sentence goes to a press release announcing a program to address one of my pet issues. Currently, farmers are not allowed to plant so-called "specialty crops" (what normal people refer to as fruits and vegetables) on "base acreage" (i.e. land where commodities like corn, soy, wheat, and hay) are grown. The press release announces a pilot program allowing farmers in several midwestern states to plant fruits and veggies on a certain amount of "base acres." Hooray! About f*ing time! Let's hope this pilot program leads to something bigger later.