The People's Garden
Former U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack began the People's Garden Initiative - named in honor of President Lincoln's description of USDA as the "People's Department" – on February 12, 2009 as an effort to challenge employees to create gardens at USDA facilities worldwide. It has since grown into a collaborative effort of over 700 local and national organizations all working together to establish community and school gardens across the country. Over 4 million pounds of produce have been donated via People’s Gardens.
Locally, scientists, technicians and administrative staff volunteering at the People’s Garden at the NCAUR have grown and donated over 12,000 pounds of produce. On average NCAUR donates about 1500lbs of produce a year to local organizations including South Side Mission, Sophia’s Angel Kitchen, Loaves and Fishes, OSF Home Healthcare patients, and Gifts of the Moment.
Tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, green pepper, turnips, watermelon, eggplants and butternut squash were all planted this year. A total of 557 pounds were harvested and it was all donated to Sophia's Kitchen in Peoria IL.