Thursday, February 19, 2009

First Lady Visits the USDA, "People's Garden"

In its blog posting, First Lady at Agriculture Department, the New York Times reports that the first lady, Michelle Obama visited the USDA to recognize 18 long-time employees for their service and to present a seedling from the Jackson magnolia, a tree planted by Andrew Jackson on the White House lawn 180 years ago.

During her visit, the first lady commented on a news story from last week, when newly appointed Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack jack-hammered a spot in the asphalt outside the Whitten building to break ground for "the inaugural USDA The People's Garden." Vilsack announced the goal of "creating a community garden at each USDA facility worldwide." Termed the "USDA community garden project" this effort "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."

Mrs. Obama voiced her approval of the project, stating, “I’m a big believer in community gardens,” she said, “both because of their beauty and for providing access to fresh fruits and vegetables to so many communities across the nation and the world.”

Acknowledging the work that goes on at USDA, she noted,

From supporting the farmers that produce the food that we eat, to managing the school meal programs that give students the energy and the nutrition they need to get through the day, to providing greater access to fresh fruits and vegetables, to giving struggling families the assistance they need to put food on their table, and to protecting our food supply, the work of this department touches the lives of all Americans on a daily basis in ways that sometimes we can't even imagine.