The garden lines the sidewalk leading to the USDA Service Center.
The garden consists of vegetables, flowers and herbs.
Each year something that hasn’t been tried before, is planted.
Produce from the USDA Service Center’s garden.
The concept of a People’s Garden wasn’t
new to District Conservationist Stacey Mathis. “Our office has had a
garden since 2005; glad to see it’s catching on!” joked Mathis.
The People's Garden was initiated February 12, 2009, during a ceremony
on the grounds of the USDA Building, commemorating the 200th birthday of
Abraham Lincoln. It is the goal of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to
create a community garden at each USDA facility worldwide. The gardens
are designed to provide a sampling of USDA's efforts throughout the
world as well as teach others how to nurture, maintain and protect a
The community garden project can include a wide variety of garden
activities including window boxes, tree planting, and field office
plots. The gardens will promote "going green" concepts, including
landscaping and building design to retain water and reduce runoff;
utilizing native plantings and using sound conservation practices.
At the Atoka NRCS Field Service Center, District Conservationist Stacey
Mathis touts about the garden that wraps around their building, and how
it was established in 2005.
“Right now we have squash, rosemary, flowers, tomatoes, bell pepper,
watermelons, chives, mini pumpkin, alfalfa, and elephant ears. I dug the
garlic at the end of May,” stated Mathis. Atoka County Conservation
District Secretary Glenna Bradford and Mathis demonstrate what a great
partnership can accomplish! “I do the planting and Glenna does the
watering. We sometimes call our garden ‘the little red hen garden’, if
you remember the story”, Mathis said.
Both claim that this garden project has been a very educational
experience. They chuckle when ‘old timers’ see their garden and proceed
to tell them what they need to do different. Or, visitors to the garden
reminisce about when their grandparents planted this or that. Some can
even tell you how many different things have been planted in the county.
Watering is done with a soaker hose to conserve water. Will all the
plants make it to harvest? “Probably not” claims Mathis, “there is some
kind of vicious wilt in the soil that is hard to control…but we just
Mathis says, “Each year, we try to plant things we have never tried
before, like sugar beets and soybeans. The alfalfa was planted for a
soil builder, and its’ flowers are pretty. We had lots of interest in
the tobacco so we will probably try it again. It came back from the
crown one year.”
To lean more about the USDA 'People's Garden' initiative, visit