After a long workday, there is nothing Kathy Gunderman enjoys more than relaxing and tending to her garden, where brightly colored flowers and green, leafy lettuce is thriving under the hot summer sun.
While this might typically spur images of fenced-in backyards across America, Gunderman’s garden is actually located on the grounds of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
After hearing embassy employees reminisce about how much they missed gardening at their stateside homes, Gunderman, who is both a USDA agricultural advisor serving in Kabul and an enthusiastic gardener, set out to establish Afghanistan’s first People’s Garden earlier this year.
The resulting garden consists of 14 plots of various sizes. The embassy’s facilities and maintenance department helped construct the beds and provided water hoses and gardening equipment for the dozens of embassy employees who have signed up to tend the garden.
Growing in the beds is a mixture of flowers, vegetables and herbs. While some of the gardeners used their own seeds, some seeds were donated by the Saving Afghan Seeds Foundation, a non-profit organization that preserves native, heritage Afghan seeds.
The garden in Kabul is part of a greater USDA People’s Garden Initiative, which challenges USDA employees to establish People’s Gardens at USDA posts worldwide and help create gardens in local communities. People’s Gardens vary in size and content, but they all have a common purpose of helping better the community and environment.
While the People’s Garden in Kabul is still new, Gunderman already has big plans to use it as a teaching tool. In the near future, she will offer classes on gardening basics including soil, water management, pest control and more.