Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "broke pavement" at The People's Garden during a ceremony on the grounds of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) commemorating the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln, who established the USDA. The Secretary declared the stretch of pavement permanently closed and returned back to green.
"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."
At the ceremony, Secretary Vilsack announced the 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 landscape and building design to retain water and reduce runoff; roof gardens for energy efficiency; utilizing native plantings and using sound conservation practices.
First lady Michelle Obama also gave her plug for renewable energy projects and the community garden program during her visit to the USDA headquarters.
"I'm a big believer in community gardens, both because of their beauty and for their access to providing fresh fruits and vegetables to so many communities across this nation and the world," Obama said. "So to help kick this effort off, I brought a little gift to get this garden going." The First Lady’s gift in honor of the occasion was a magnolia tree seedling from the White House, which will be planted by USDA's main building facing the National Mall.