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People's Garden Partnership Grows to New Heights in Delaware





People's Garden Partnership Grows to New Heights in Delaware

Vegetables aren’t the only thing you’ll see growing at the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) People’s Garden in Delaware. Partnerships are growing too.  To commemorate Earth Day, students from Minorities in Agriculture and Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS) at Delaware State University (DSU), and a representative from Partnership for Delaware Estuary joined NRCS employees in a clean-up and planting day aimed at restoring the local People’s Garden for the upcoming 2011 growing season.

Less than a year ago, the People’s Garden site at the USDA State Office in Delaware was a barren plot suitable for only grass and weeds until NRCS employees decided to turn it into the first People’s Garden in the State.  Together with USDA employees from the Farm Service Agency, Rural Development, Partnership for Delaware Estuary, and Ms. Plucenik’s second grade class from North Dover Elementary School, the area was transformed into a dynamic People’s Garden that produced 900 pounds of food last summer. The donated food, consisting of green beans, squash, corn, beets, tomatoes, and more, was donated to the local People’s Place and Shepherd’s Place shelters.

As with most successes, it requires much effort—and similarly, the People’s Garden must be maintained in order to flourish continuously. This year, NRCS welcomed the eight MANRRS students who rolled up their sleeves on April 20 to revitalize the sleeping garden.  USDA employees started off the day roto-tilling, pulling weeds, mulching and cleaning up trash. On break from class, MANRRS students joined in to plant strawberries, potatoes, sweet corn, onions, Brussels’ sprouts, and tomatoes in the hoop house, which is used to extend the growing season. The day ended with everyone weeding and cleaning out the adjacent rain garden.

Before the planting had begun, one section of the garden was already abundant with produce. Last September, NRCS employees planted a plot of turnips that has produced 10 lbs of turnip greens and turnips this year for the neighboring shelters.

Future plans include working with DSU’s nutritionist in the College of Agriculture and Related Sciences to teach the kitchen staff of shelters and others in the community how to prepare vegetables and incorporate healthy foods into everyday meals.

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. For more information on the People's Garden, visit

Top photo caption: USDA NRCS employee Clarissa Blackiston works with MANRRS student, Ian Silva, to plant Brussels sprouts in one of the raised beds of the People’s Garden.

Right photo caption: Entire group of participants weed and remove leaves from the adjacent rain garden.

Bottom photo caption: Group photo with NRCS employees, MANRRS students and a representative from Partnership for the Delaware Estuary showing off their “muscles” after a busy day of clean-up and planting.  



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