People's Gardens in the Caribbean Area
NRCS Caribbean Area Director, Edwin
Almodóvar; Oeste SWCD President, Jenny Santiago; and NRCS
Acting Associate Chief, Leonard Jordan, inaugurate the
first NRCS Caribbean Area People's Garden.
April 01, 2013
On February 28, 2013, the first NRCS People’s
Garden in the Caribbean Area was officially inaugurated at the Tropical Agriculture Research
Station (TARS) in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. The Mayagüez People's Garden is a collaborative effort
between NRCS, UPR Mayagüez, TARS, the UPR Agricultural Experiment
Station, UPR Cooperative Extension Service, UPR Sea Grant, the Oeste
Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD), Casa Belén, and Mayagüezanos
Pro Salud y Ambiente. Project partners donated all the materials and
supplies (plants, compost, etc.) to build this beautiful garden. We congratulate our NRCS
Mayagüez Field Office, Ecological
Sciences and Soil Sciences Division employees for putting together an
extraordinary event with our partners and co-workers.
USDA Secretary, Tom Vilsack, began the People's Garden Initiative in
2009 as an effort to challenge employees to create gardens at USDA
facilities. The Initiative is named in honor of President Lincoln's
description of USDA as the "People's Department," and has grown into a
collaborative effort of over 700 local and national organizations all
working together to establish community and school gardens across the
country. The simple act of planting a garden can help unite
neighborhoods in a common effort and inspire locally-led solutions to
challenges facing our communities and country - from hunger to the
People's Gardens have expanded to all 50 states, three U.S.
territories - including the Caribbean Area - and eight foreign
countries. They are located at faith-based centers, on federal leased or
owned property, at schools and other places within the community. Search
People's Gardens Interactive Map to find out where our gardens are
NRCS dignitaries and project partners pose by the
newly-inaugurated NRCS People's Garden at the Tropical
Agriculture Research Station (TARS) in Mayagüez, PR (February 28, 2013).
Volunteers put finishing touches on rain garden during November
27, 2007 installation at V.I. Waste Management Authority (VIWMA)
Green House Program in St. Croix, USVI, through joint NRCS-VIRC&D-local
Volunteers plant rain garden at Hope & Carton Hill residence in
St. Croix, USVI, funded by an NRCS Conservation Technical
Assistance Program cooperative agreement with the St. Croix
Environmental Association (SEA) (October 2012).
Rain garden at work at St. Croix Seventh Day Adventist School;
installed through joint NRCS-VIRC&D-Rutgers University-local
government partnership (May 2010).
People's Gardens vary in size and type, but all are required to have
three components in common. They must:
- Benefit the community,
in some cases by creating recreational spaces and in others by
providing a harvest for a local food bank or shelter.
- Be collaborative -
that is, the garden must be created and maintained by a partnership
of local individuals, groups, or organizations.
- Be sustainable -
The gardens might use compost or mulch made by participants. They
might contain native plants or encourage beneficial insects. They
also might exemplify water conservation, for instance, capturing
rain in a barrel to water the garden. Gardens located at private
residences are not eligible to become People's Gardens. You can
declare an existing garden as a People's Garden as long as it
incorporates the three components.
NRCS-CB Engineer, Rolando Collazo (right),
explains the drip irrigation system to Oeste SWCD President,
Jenny Santiago (left).
All produce grown at a People's Garden on USDA owned or leased
property is donated to help those in need. We invite our partners to
join us in sharing your harvest with neighborhood food pantries,
kitchens and shelters - which helps improve access to healthy,
affordable food at a local level.
Donations of food and grocery items to non-profits to feed needy
individuals are covered by the
Food Donation Act (Public Law 104-210). Unless there is gross
negligence or misconduct on behalf of the donor, individuals and groups
are not liable.
For More Information
Point of Contact
Jaime Valentín, State Resource Conservationist, 787-766-5206 x. 121
< Back to NRCS Caribbean Area Outreach Page