You may remember when USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last June that People’s Garden’s existed in all 50 states, two U.S. territories, and three foreign countries. Since then, People’s Gardens are cropping up at Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) posts throughout the world.
In March 2010, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service office in the Embassy of Korea was the first international office to embrace the People’s Garden Initiative by establishing a garden at the Ambassador’s residence, followed by this new minted garden at the Gwacheon National Science Museum.
On April 23, 2011, U.S. Ambassador to Korea Kathleen Stephens opened a permanent People’s Garden in vibrant Seoul, Korea, one of the largest cities in the world. The 700-square-meter site was provided by the museum. Dr. Shang-Hi Rhee, president of the Gwacheon National Science Museum, hosted the inaugural event. Dr. Rhee and Ambassador Stephens arrived together by bicycle and were joined by 70 volunteers including Boy Scouts and Junior Master Gardeners – Korea (JMG-Korea). The Boy Scouts eagerly worked the nearly 600 service hours necessary to prepare and design the garden site, build the garden arbor and raised the beds for growing vegetables and flowers. In her remarks, Ambassador Stephens emphasized the importance of volunteerism to the success of the People’s Garden initiative.
The People’s Garden at Gwacheon Museum not only connects the U.S. and Korean communities through a spirit of volunteerism but also enables urban children to learn gardening skills and gain understanding about growing food and healthy eating. Elementary school children affiliated with the JMG-Korea planted vegetable seedlings including red lettuce, green lettuce, oak lettuce, romaine lettuce, eggplant, Korean red pepper, cucumber and cherry tomato. The produce that will eventually be harvested by the children will be donated to charity.
People’s Gardens are sprouting up in countries around the world as well as in communities throughout the United States. Learn more about the People’s Garden Initiative and locate a garden near you on the People’s Garden Interactive Map.