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News Release

USDA in Delaware Helps Big Brothers Big Sisters Unlock the Secrets in the Soil for Earth Day

DOVER, Del., April 23, 2013– For three growing seasons, beginning in 2010, the USDA People’s Garden in Dover, DE has produced more than 1,800 pounds of fruits and vegetables that have been shared with needy families. On Earth Day 2013, USDA employees used their quarter-acre Peoples Garden as a platform to teach the children and volunteers from Big Brothers Big Sisters how to grow their own nutritious plants successfully and sustainably.

USDA employees and volunteers planted a total of 36 broccoli, 18 strawberry, 15 yellow onions, 12 lettuce and 6 cabbage plants. One component of growing sustainably is with healthy soil, which is part of the national USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) campaign, “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil.” With the world’s population projected at 9 billion in 2050, food production will need to rise by 70 percent and improving soil health is key to long-term, sustainable agricultural production.

USDA employees discussed proper soil-building techniques such as cover crops, and no-till that can protect against drought and increase production. They also engaged everyone in backyard conservation activities such as composting, mulching, and weeding.

Prior to the planting, a Registered Dietician from Delaware State University heated up a gas grill and quickly cooked up a tasty and healthy frittata made with fresh, local ingredients. The USDA People’s Garden provides those within the local community access to more healthy fruits and vegetables—increasing nutrition.

The USDA People’s Garden in Dover is organically grown using sustainable practices for soil health management practices to ensure its viability. The national effort, The People’s Garden Initiative,is a USDA effort that challenges its employees to establish People's Gardens at USDA facilities worldwide or help communities create gardens.

If you are interested in volunteering in the garden or creating your own community garden, please contact Eileen Campbell, 302-678-4161. For more information on NRCS’ “Unlock the Secrets in the Soil” campaign, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/main/national/soils/health/.