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People's Gardens in the Caribbean Area


Dignitaries Inaugurate La Fortaleza Peoples Garden in December 2013.
USDA-NRCS Caribbean Area Director, Edwin Almodóvar (left), presents the award to First Lady Wilma Pastrana Jiménez (2nd from right), along with Puerto Rico Secretary of Agriculture, Dr. Myrna Comas (right), and Dr. Gladys González, Dean of Campus at the Mayagüez College of Agricultural Sciences (2nd from left).

Caribbean Area People's Gardens Recognized Nationally!

Puerto Rico's First Lady Promotes Community Gardens, Starting with Her Backyard - August 22, 2014

On December 16, 2013, NRCS recognized First Lady Wilma Pastrana Jiménez and her home garden at La Fortaleza officially as a People’s Garden – joining the list of People’s Gardens across the United States and the Caribbean.  This prestigious recognition is the first to be granted to a Puerto Rico state government facility, and is the third established on the island (the first two People’s Gardens are located at the Mayagüez Field Office on the USDA Tropical Agriculture Research Station grounds, and at the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport).

NRCS Caribbean Area Director, Edwin Almodóvar, presented the award to the First Lady, along with Puerto Rico Secretary of Agriculture, Dr. Myrna Comas, and Dr. Gladys González, Dean of Campus at the Mayagüez College of Agricultural Sciences.

NRCS Caribbean Area Director, Edwin Almodóvar; OESTE SWCD President, Jenny Santiago; and NRCS Acting Associate Chief, Leonard Jordan, inaugurate the first NRCS Caribbean Area People's Garden.

NRCS Caribbean Area Director, Edwin Almodóvar; Oeste SWCD President, Jenny Santiago; and NRCS Acting Associate Chief, Leonard Jordan, inaugurate the first NRCS Caribbean Area People's Garden in Mayagüez.

On February 28, 2013, the first NRCS People’s Garden in the Caribbean Area was officially inaugurated at the Tropical Agriculture Research Station (TARS) in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. The Mayagüez People's Garden is a collaborative effort between NRCS, UPR Mayagüez, TARS, the UPR Agricultural Experiment Station, UPR Cooperative Extension Service, UPR Sea Grant, the Oeste Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD), Casa Belén, and Mayagüezanos Pro Salud y Ambiente.

USDA Secretary, Tom Vilsack, began the People's Garden Initiative in 2009 as an effort to challenge employees to create gardens at USDA facilities. The Initiative is named in honor of President Lincoln's description of USDA as the "People's Department," and has grown into a collaborative effort of over 700 local and national organizations all working together to establish community and school gardens across the country. The simple act of planting a garden can help unite neighborhoods in a common effort and inspire locally-led solutions to challenges facing our communities and country - from hunger to the environment.

People's Gardens have expanded to all 50 states, three U.S. territories - including the Caribbean Area - and eight foreign countries. They are located at faith-based centers, on federal leased or owned property, at schools and other places within the community. Search the People's Gardens Interactive Map to find out where our gardens are located.

Lush herbs and vegetables grow in La Fortaleza Peoples Garden. The First Lady, Director Almodóvar, Dr. González and Dr. Comás plant seeds in La Fortaleza Garden
Lush herbs and vegetables grow in La Fortaleza Peoples Garden.
The First Lady, Director Almodóvar, Dr. González and Dr. Comás plant seeds in La Fortaleza People's Garden.
NRCS dignitaries and project partners pose by the newly-inaugurated NRCS People's Garden at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayag���ƒÂ¼ez Campus.

NRCS dignitaries and project partners pose by the newly-inaugurated NRCS Mayagüez People's Garden at the Tropical Agriculture Research Station (TARS) in Mayagüez, PR (February 28, 2013).

Volunteers put finishing touches on rain garden during November 27, 2007 installation at V.I. Waste Management Authority (VIWMA) Green House Program in St. Croix, USVI, through joint NRCS-VIRC&D-local government partnership.

Volunteers plant rain garden at Hope & Carton Hill residence in St. Croix, USVI, funded by an NRCS Conservation Technical Assistance Program cooperative agreement with the St. Croix Environmental Association (SEA) (October 2012).

Rain garden at work at St. Croix Seventh Day Adventist School; installed through joint NRCS-VIRC&D-Rutgers University-local government partnership (May 2010).

People's Gardens vary in size and type, but all are required to have three components in common. They must:

  • Benefit the community, in some cases by creating recreational spaces and in others by providing a harvest for a local food bank or shelter.
  • Be collaborative - that is, the garden must be created and maintained by a partnership of local individuals, groups, or organizations.
  • Be sustainable - The gardens might use compost or mulch made by participants. They might contain native plants or encourage beneficial insects. They also might exemplify water conservation, for instance, capturing rain in a barrel to water the garden. Gardens located at private residences are not eligible to become People's Gardens. You can declare an existing garden as a People's Garden as long as it incorporates the three components.
NRCS-CB Engineer, Rolando Collazo (right), explains the drip irrigation system to Oeste SWCD President, Jenny Santiago (left).
NRCS-CB Engineer, Rolando Collazo (right), explains the drip irrigation system to Oeste SWCD President, Jenny Santiago (left).

All produce grown at a People's Garden on USDA owned or leased property is donated to help those in need. We invite our partners to join us in sharing your harvest with neighborhood food pantries, kitchens and shelters - which helps improve access to healthy, affordable food at a local level.

Donations of food and grocery items to non-profits to feed needy individuals are covered by the Good Samaritan Food Donation Act (Public Law 104-210). Unless there is gross negligence or misconduct on behalf of the donor, individuals and groups are not liable.

For More Information

Point of Contact

Jaime Valentín, State Resource Conservationist, 787-766-5206 x. 121 or jaime.valentin@pr.usda.gov