By Amy Maxwell, State Public Affairs Specialist, South Carolina
Three People’s Gardens at USDA Service Centers within South Carolina’s Edisto Watershed are encouraging community involvement and are providing fresh produce to those in need.
Made possible by the hard work and efforts of USDA agencies, local community members and volunteers, the gardens were planted this spring with tomatoes, peppers, okra, corn, cucumbers, squash, watermelon, cantaloupe and sunflowers, all donated to local food banks.
The gardens, located in Orangeburg, Barnwell and Bamberg Counties, illustrate conservation principles by using best management practices that emphasize soil and water conservation. They also emphasize the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables and the true spirit of partnership and community. USDA employees volunteer to maintain the gardens, but local 4-Hers also pitch in.
The People’s Garden Initiative was launched in February 2009 by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who established the first such garden at USDA headquarters in Washington, D.C. There are now more than 400 People’s Gardens nationwide.
These gardens show what can happen when public spaces are used to benefit the community and a dedicated group of USDA employees, volunteers, young adults and local groups unite to make a difference in their communities.