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People's Garden Initiative

Northern Rhode Island Conservation District (NRICD) Partners With NRCS to Create Portable Vegetable Garden Planters as Part of 'The People's Garden ' Initiative


Portable Vegetable Planter

WARWICK, RI (June 2, 2011) - The Northern Rhode Island Conservation District (NRICD) recently partnered with NRCS to design portable vegetable garden planters which are located at the district office in Johnston, Rhode Island. The garden is the result of USDA's The People's Garden initiative where well over 1,200 gardens have been planted across the Nation since 2009.

The People's Garden initiative is a collaborative, volunteer effort between USDA and outside organizations within the community such as the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District where there are several community benefits including harvesting fruits and vegetables for local food banks and providing aesthetically pleasing space for the public. In addition, the gardens incorporate sustainable practices such as composting, mulching and planting native species. NRCS Staf:Kanseese Xiong, Nicole Bernier, and R Phou Vongkhamdy

NRCS unveiled the garden planters to the public as part of the NRICD 2011 Seedling Sale where Kanseese Xiong, NRCS Landscape Architect, conducted an educational Edible Landscaping workshop on Friday, April 22, 2011. Showcasing an edible landscape design, the portable garden planters consist of a combination of bok choy, mixed lettuce, scallions, mint, beets, and cabbage in organic soil where the planters are constructed of recycled wood pallets with plastic liners which act as a protective barrier. Remnants of sheep's wool are planted in the soil to allow the retention of water in the soil. In addition, the planters have built-in composting bins for organic food waste. The planters were built by NRCS staff and Youthbuild Providence which offers a alternative educational program for urban youth that provides the students with academic and workplace skills needed to make a successful transition into the working world.  The goal of the program is to provide a framework for young people and routes of achievement through projects that lead to positive and productive life experiences. 

Remnants of Sheep's Wool in Organic SoilEdible landscaping is the use of food-producing plants such as fruit and nut trees, berry bushes, vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers in aesthetically pleasing designs in the residential landscape. Xiong provided information on how to create an edible landscaping in your own yard where you can reap the benefits of locally and organically grown food, encourage the growth of native species, and provide nourishment for wildlife. Edible landscapes provide several other environmental benefits including the reduction of oil use, greenhouse gases, and pollution associated with purchasing food produced several miles from the consumer and sold at grocery stores. Edible landscapes also benefit the environment if they are organic which reduces the amount of chemicals in food on the land and in storm drains headed to the ocean. Other benefits include composting where waste is diverted from landfills and reducing oil use, pollution and greenhouse gas resulting from hauling away green trash to landfills.

During the Summer 2011, additional garden planters were placed outside the USDA Service Center in Warwick, Rhode Island.  These planters, built by Youthbuild, consists of a combination of plantings that encourage pollinator habitat.