Imagine sitting at your desk one day and answering the ringing phone, only to hear the US State Department’s Office of Protocol on the other end. That is precisely what happened to Michael Perry, Export Specialist for the USDA’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) when he was told President Obama was traveling to Israel in late March and wished to give a special gift to the Israeli people. Read more »
One of the many celebrations and traditions that people still practice is the burning of the yule log and singing yuletide carols. Photo courtesy of Penny Stritch.
Many holiday traditions are celebrated during the season surrounding the winter solstice, or the time when the sun is at its lowest point above the horizon.
For communities and families, plants play a central role in these traditions. Yet, most people are unaware of the origins of how plants like holly and yule logs became part of holidays and traditions. Read more »
By Angie Harless, USDA Executive Master Gardener
On May 7, The People’s Garden launched the first workshop in its healthy garden series summer program in DC. This year the summer series was expanded and offers a full range of programming for both kids and adults. “The People’s Garden” Healthy Garden Workshops are open to everyone and demonstrate how easy it is to grow a sustainable garden no matter where you live. Leading experts from within and outside of USDA will lend their experience throughout this growing season to help you create and manage your garden from the ground up.
The Healthy Garden Workshops will primarily be for adults, while the newest edition to the series, Growing Healthy Kids, will be offered for young people. Beginning May 7, the Healthy Garden Workshops will occur rain or shine every Friday from noon to 1 p.m. in the garden or under a tent on the north lawn of USDA’s Jamie L. Whitten building. Each month of the healthy garden series will focus on a different theme: May: gardening from the ground up; June: celebrating pollinators; July: plant diseases; and August: types of gardens. Pre-registration will be required for this series as seats will be limited to 50 participants. To reserve a seat, those interested in participating in the workshop must call (202) 690-3989 to register between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The Growing Healthy Kids youth series will be hands-on learning programs based upon the Junior Master Gardener curriculum. There are three programs: Plant Pals, Tops or Bottoms and U-B the Judge. Plant Pals will help curious-minded children discover why certain plants are better neighbors in the garden the others. Tops or Bottoms will encourage young gardeners to use their knowledge of plant structures in identifying which part of the plant is eaten. And U-B the Judge will give youth a chance to evaluate fruits and vegetables based on color, texture, taste and smell. Each program is 60 minutes long and will be held outside every Wednesday at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. from May through October. Youth programs are cancelled if it rains. Space is limited to 30 youth and they must be at least 5 years old. Call (202) 708-0082 to register a group for one of the three programs.
The summer program guide is available online. Follow us on Twitter for real-time updates, check out photos and join our Facebook page!
This afternoon in the Peoples’ Garden at USDA, the weekly Healthy Garden Workshop was supplemented by a special new activity for kids: the Garden Sprouts program.
As the adults learned about weeding techniques and removal of invasive plants at the third weekly Healthy Garden event, kids were given a map to follow through six educational stations. They learned about the role of worms in a garden as they dug through soil, helped put ladybugs into the Peoples’ Garden, and learned about seeds and how they work.
The kids talked about how food goes from the farm to their plates, and had the opportunity to meet with volunteers from D.C. kitchen, a local food bank and culinary training facility.
Throughout the entire mini-workshop, attendees gained a wealth of knowledge about the food they eat, and how it’s grown. The Peoples’ Garden exists to further this educational outreach — you can always learn more about what we’re doing in the Garden by checking out the Twitter feed, or visiting the Peoples’ Garden web site.
The weather is holding through this afternoon, and the lunchtime crowd in the Peoples’ Garden is excited and really interested to see what’s happening.
Early in the afternoon, the DC Central Kitchen, a student-operated non-profit in the District of Columbia which works to develop and serve organic, nutritious food to people in need, demonstrated the making of their bruschetta — and they’re still serving it outside to great reviews!
Meanwhile, staff from the National Arboretum joined a group of curious folks to teach gardening in containers and pots — a perfect concept for Americans living in urban apartments or other places lacking green space to garden. Practical tips abounded — for example, terra cotta pots are great, but not if you need to move your garden around often (they’ll break). Instead, the staff outlined the benefits of new gardening pots that are more weather-and-damage resistant.
It’s always a lot of fun to walk in the garden on an afternoon like this one, and to see how many Americans are excited at the possibility of getting a garden of their own going. The workshops continue throughout the summer, and you can always learn more at the Peoples’ Garden page.