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USDA Breaks Precedent by Breaking Concrete and Creating Green Space

The USDA celebrates Lincoln's creation of the USDA by breaking through impervious concrete to create productive garden and habitat resources.

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On Lincoln's 200th birthday, Feb. 12, 2009, the new Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "broke pavement" on The People's Garden during a ceremony on the grounds of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) commemorating Lincoln's birthday.

Green for Watershed Protection

Secretary Vilsack declared the stretch of pavement permanently closed and returned back to green, and encouraged other Administration officials and the general public to join in to protect the Chesapeake watershed.

"It is essential for the federal government to lead the way in enhancing and conserving our land and water resources," said Vilsack. "President Obama has expressed his commitment to responsible stewardship of our land, water and other natural resources, and one way of restoring the land to its natural condition is what we are doing here today - "breaking pavement" for The People's Garden."

The dedication comes on the 200th anniversary of the birth of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln founded the Department of Agriculture in 1862 and referred to it as "The People's Department" in his last annual message to Congress.

Green for Beneficial Gardening Promotion

Secretary Vilsack announced a goal of creating a community garden at each USDA facility worldwide. The USDA community garden project will include a wide variety of garden activities including Embassy window boxes, tree planting, and field office plots.

The gardens will be designed to promote "going green" concepts, including landscaping and building design to retain water and reduce runoff; roof gardens for energy efficiency; utilizing native plantings and using sound conservation practices.

Green Space for Runoff Reduction

The USDA People's Garden will eliminate 1,250 square feet of unnecessary paved surface at the USDA headquarters and return the landscape to grass. The changes signal a removal of impervious surfaces and improvement in water management that is needed throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Demonstration Habitat for Backyard and Green Space Applications

The new garden will add 612 square feet of planted space to showcase conservation practices that all Americans can implement in their own backyards and green spaces.

As a component of the garden, pollinator-friendly plantings will not only provide important habitat for bees and butterflies, but can serve as an educational opportunity to help people understand the vital role pollinators play in our food, forage and all agriculture. The garden plot is adjacent to the site of the USDA Farmer's Market.

Watershed Protection of the Chesapeake Watershed

About 100,000 streams and rivers thread through the Chesapeake's 64,000-square-mile watershed, which is home to almost 17 million people in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, New York and the District of Columbia. The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in North America, with a length of 200 miles and 11,684 miles of tidal shoreline, more than the entire U.S. West Coast.

The Chesapeake Bay supports more than 3,600 species of plants, fish and animals.

Reduce Pollution on Wildlife Habitat, Forests and Water Resources...and Improve Community Natural Resources

USDA leads efforts on public and private lands to help reduce the impact of nutrient and sediment pollution on wildlife habitat, forest lands and water quality, as well as supporting community involvement in managing natural resources, urban green space and land stewardship. For more information about USDA, the People's Garden, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and other conservation and agriculture related programs available in local communities, visit a USDA Service Center or go to the USDA Web page at www.usda.gov.

Complementary education materials such as the distance-learning project MonarchLIVE and partnerships with schools and the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign which will extend the impact and reach of the USDA garden initiative are available at na.fs.fed.us. Backyard conservation and other materials also can be obtained by dialing 1-888-LANDCARE.

Edited by Carolyn Allen
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