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Posts tagged: GSA

People’s Gardens, Farmers Markets & CSAs at USDA and Across Government

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, GSA Regional Administrator Julia Hudson and AMS Administrator Elanor Starmer

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (center), GSA Regional Administrator Julia Hudson (left) and AMS Administrator Elanor Starmer (right) officially open the VegUcation tent at the USDA Farmers Market opening. This new feature at the market will help visitors learn how to pick, prepare and store seasonal fruits and vegetables they find at the Farmers Market. USDA photo by Ken Melton.

We celebrated a few “firsts” today when Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack opened the 21st season of the USDA Farmers Market located outside USDA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The Secretary announced the first-ever partnership between USDA, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the General Services Administration (GSA) to better support agencies and Federal employees who want to incorporate gardens, farmers markets and community supported agriculture programs (CSAs) into the Federal workplace.

OPM provides Government-wide guidance on health and wellness policies for Federal employees and GSA manages Federal property and offices.  By working together, we can more effectively exchange ideas about how to engage thousands of employees and improve employee health and wellness in the workplace. Read more »

Streamlined Design and New Features for

Over the past two years, USDA has undergone a major redesign of and most Agency and Office websites.  While we’ve taken major steps to improve the user experience and usability through a streamlined and modern look and feel, we continue to learn and expand on these improvements as we progress through our redesign processes.

As part of this redesign, we focused on further optimizing the homepage for ease of use and to maximize resource exposure for users based on Federal best practices and lessons learned from prior USDA Agency website redesigns. Web and social media analytics also provided key insights to popular content and user preferences, which we continuously evaluate to make adjustments to our digital content. Read more »

USDA, ERS Moving Down the Track to Open Data

Each day, the Charts of Note series from the Economic Research Service (ERS) delivers an innovative, visual display of research findings. Wouldn’t it be great if these charts could be easily grabbed for use on your own website or blog? Well, now they can.

The new Federal Open Data Policy asks agencies to use machine-readable formats when they build and disseminate information. At ERS, we are already traveling down that track…for Charts of Note and more. Our goal is to improve the reach, accessibility, and utility of important research findings. Read more »

Local USDA and GSA Offices Team Up on Creating a People’s Garden in Des Moines, Iowa

Written by Jill Clothier, Iowa Earth Team Coordinator, USDA-NRCS

In November of 2009, after reading an article on the USDA website about the People’s Garden Initiative, I approached our Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) State Conservationist, Rich Sims, with the idea of planting a People’s Garden here at the Neal Smith Federal Building in Des Moines, Iowa.  He was immediately receptive to the idea and we contacted General Services Administration (GSA) to start the ball rolling.

 As the Iowa NRCS Earth Team Volunteer Coordinator, I am especially enthused about People’s Gardens.  Not only is it a valuable learning experience about sustainable agriculture on a large or small scale, it is an exceptional volunteer opportunity.  The People’s Garden Initiative brings people together – it truly is a community garden.  The USDA-NRCS, Farm Services Agency, Rural Development, and GSA are working together to make our garden a reality.

 Our bi-level garden will contain a variety of native Iowa plants and grasses.  We are planning on designing signs that will give educational information about each native plant. 

 We are fortunate to have excellent input in our planning process from a variety of people including an Earth Team volunteer and Master Gardener, who drew up sketches of the garden, an NRCS Biologist, and our Federal Building Manager, as well as a host of others who are generously sharing their knowledge and experience and who are donating their time and talents.   

 Our People’s Garden will be an educational tool to inform our community of Iowa’s rich history of native plants.  We are located downtown and are surrounded by concrete office buildings but also by schools, daycare centers, retirement centers, and apartments – all within walking distance of our garden. 

 I have learned so much already just by reading about other People’s Gardens.  I am thankful to have the opportunity to be involved in our community garden!  It is my hope that after getting our native grasses People’s Garden up and running, we will be able to develop a produce garden on the roof of the Neal Smith Federal Building. 

 The enthusiasm for the People’s Garden Initiative is contagious!  I hope in addition to establishing People’s Gardens at USDA offices, that people will take this initiative into their own neighborhoods.  I’ve spoken with several people in my own community about establishing People’s Gardens in other areas such as homeless shelters, nursing homes, schools, to name just a few.  The possibilities are endless and the rewards are great! 

 The community aspect of the People’s Garden Initiative is inspiring.  Each person with whom I’ve visited is immediately enthused and ready to participate.  People who have heard about our project are already volunteering to help, bringing me seeds, suggesting ideas about rainwater collection, container gardening, compost sock gardening, to name just a few.  It is rewarding to see people from all walks of life getting excited about a project, which benefits us all.  The NRCS mission of “Helping People Help the Land” is a perfect match for the People’s Garden Initiative.

 Rich Sims speaks at the Des Moines People's Garden groundbreaking ceremony 
 Rich Sims, Iowa NRCS State Conservationist, speaks before a crowd of 100 for the groundbreaking ceremony of the People’s Garden at the Neal Smith Federal Building in Des Moines, Iowa.

 Future site of the Des Moines People's Garden
Future site of the Neal Smith Federal Building People’s Garden.