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USDA and the District of Columbia Daughters of the American Revolution Team Up to Help the Columbia Heights Educational Campus Build a People's Garden

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the District of Columbia Daughters of the American Revolution (D.C.DAR) today announced a new People's Garden at the Columbia Heights Educational Campus (CHEC) in Washington, D.C. In this joint People's Garden venture, D.C. DAR will provide funding, USDA is providing technical expertise and students on the Green Team at CHEC will build, plant and sustain it.

Together the school, the D.C.DAR and USDA hosted a symbolic "first dig" in the garden this afternoon. School students planted several berry bushes along the fences and serpentine path adjacent to Irving Street. Students are working with a USDA landscape architect to finalize their designs, which include a gathering space, pollinator garden and food production area.

"In addition to the nutrition and education value, school gardens are a great way for young people to gain a better understanding of how food is produced," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "It will help them understand that agriculture is really unique, exciting, challenging and it will get more young people engaged in the sciences that support agriculture as viable career paths."

The garden will provide many uses for students of different grade levels and ages including a place to sit and relax, the experience of making something grow, a garden of their own, and experiments for science projects. Faculty members in the Science Department are excited to use the garden for teaching biology, environmental science and chemistry.

After one year of planning between the Green Team and People's Garden volunteers the dream of having a garden is finally coming to fruition thanks to D.C. DAR support. D.C.DAR State Regent Shari-Thorne-Sulima said, "The D.C.DAR is honored to partner with the USDA to start a People's Garden in Columbia Heights. As with anything grown in a People's Garden, all produce grown on the property is donated to help our friends and neighbors in need. It is our hope the school, its students, and our community benefit from this garden."

CHEC is a D.C. Public School and Early College High School that serves over 1,300 middle and high school students. Its Green Team is a high school initiative made up of 20 core student members that are dedicated to raising environmental awareness. They inform other students about environmental issues and are involved actively in projects that focus on saving energy, recycling and campus greening.

The People's Garden Initiative was launched by Secretary Vilsack on February 12, 2009, as an effort to challenge USDA employees to create gardens at USDA facilities. An idea that started with one garden to commemorate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth has grown into an international movement. It is a collaborative effort of over 700 local and national organizations all working together to establish school gardens, community gardens and small-scale agriculture projects in urban and rural areas, collectively referred to as community-based agriculture.

USDA encourages communities to start a People's Garden and invites people to share their harvest with those in need. Through the Initiative's 'Share Your Harvest' campaign, over 1 million pounds of fresh produce has been donated to neighborhood food pantries, kitchens and shelters -- which help improve access to healthy, affordable food at a local level.

The D.C.DAR, organized in 1901, is part of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Under the leadership of State Regent Mrs. Shari Thorne-Sulima, D.C.DAR's 1,000+ members are focused on promoting DC's unique boundary stones, spreading literacy throughout our Nation's Capitol, and serving our soldiers. For more information about D.C. DAR, contact D.C.DAR Public Relations and Media Chairman Sarah Milligan via e-mail at or call (202) 277-1280.

For more information on how to register your new or existing community garden as a People's Garden, go to the People's Garden website at

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