There is no question that Italy is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world and is celebrated for its fantastic food and beautiful scenery. Fresh produce and beautiful landscapes are often enveloped in beautiful gardens in the cities and along the countryside, delighting residents and tourists alike. The U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Rome recently unveiled the latest international “People’s Garden,” as part of the USDA’s initiative to teach people worldwide how to nurture, maintain and protect a healthy landscape.
In April, the U.S. Ambassador to Italy David H. Thorne and his wife Rose inaugurated “The Villa Taverna Orto” located in the gardens of the official Ambassador’s residence at Villa Taverna. ‘Orto’ is Italian for vegetable garden. This project was made possible thanks to the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office at the American Embassy in Rome. That office also organized a design competition with an Italian Agronomist high school, under the mentorship of the Rome Order of Doctors of Agronomy and Forestry. The students completed their designs February 2011, which were then reviewed by the Ambassador and Mrs. Thorne. The resulting Villa Taverna Orto highlights the best features of each project, while also including Italian indigenous species in accordance with the biodiversity program.
The garden provided the Ambassador and Mrs. Thorne the opportunity to highlight the importance of healthy eating habits at a time when obesity and diabetes have become an important health concern in both the United States and Italy. Like Agriculture Secretary Vilsack’s “People’s Garden” and First Lady Michele Obama’s White House garden in Washington, D.C., The Villa Taverna Orto is a perfect example of how vegetable gardening can be an environmentally-friendly and healthy activity that promotes good eating habits. It will be used year-round as a kitchen garden to provide seasonal produce for the Ambassador’s residence.
“Quality of life is closely linked to the food we eat,” said Ambassador Thorne. “Growing a natural garden and eating its products increases the awareness and importance of food to pass down to our children.”
People’s Gardens are sprouting up in countries around the world as well as counties 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.