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News Release

First NRCS People's Garden Inaugurated in the Caribbean Area

Mr. Jaime Valentín, 787-766-5206 x. 121

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

March 19, 2013 – San Juan, PR – Last month, NRCS in the Caribbean Area (CB) by NRCS Acting Associate Chief, Leonard Jordan.

On February 28, 2013, Associate Chief Jordan joined NRCS-CB Director, Edwin Almodóvar, and Oeste Soil & Water Conservation District President, Jenny Santiago, in officially inaugurating the first NRCS Caribbean Area People’s Garden 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 Mayaguezanos Pro Salud y Ambiente.

Project partners donated all the materials and supplies (plants, compost, etc.) to build this beautiful garden. Said Director Almodóvar, “We congratulate our NRCS Mayagüez Field Office, Ecological Sciences and Soil Sciences Division employees for putting together an extraordinary event with our partners and co-workers.”

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.

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.