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People's Garden Initiative Expanded across the Nation

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan visited a community garden in Baltimore Nov. 10 to announce 10 grants to support 155 People's Gardens in neighborhoods from Maryland to Hawaii, continuing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) efforts to combat malnutrition while supporting local and regional food systems. These sustainable community gardens will give residents direct access to fresh fruits and vegetables in underserved neighborhoods. A lack of access to fresh and nutritious food fuels obesity and domestic food insecurity—a condition where households experience limited or uncertain access to adequate food.

"The simple act of planting a garden can help unite neighborhoods around a common effort and inspire communities to find solutions to challenges facing our country—from hunger to the environment," said Merrigan. "The People's Garden Initiative has demonstrated that one direct and effective way of improving food access is to plant a garden. Since establishing our People's Garden Initiative, we're excited to see more and more people working together to create nurturing communities around these sources of nutritious food."

USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) manages the People's Garden Grant Program (PGGP), with funding from the Agriculture Marketing Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Food and Nutrition Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The grants announced Nov. 10, totaling $725,000, are the first awards given under the PGGP. USDA received more than 360 proposals requesting more than $4 million.

PGGP was designed to invest in urban and rural areas identified as food deserts or food insecure areas, particularly those with persistent poverty. In addition, PGGP seeks to address health issues closely related to malnutrition, including food insecurity, obesity, diabetes and heart disease, through onsite education programs.

Projects were funded in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan and Ohio. Grants were awarded to:

  • Homer Soil and Water Conservation District, Alaska, $110,500
  • Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona, Arizona, $5,000
  • Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, California, $29,000
  • Denver Urban Gardens, Colorado, $70,000
  • Knox Parks, Inc., Connecticut, $50,000
  • Heritage Ranch, Inc., Hawaii, $110,500
  • Alliance for Community Trees, Inc., Maryland, $150,000
  • Towson University, Maryland, $60,000
  • Calhoun Conservation District, Michigan, $70,000
  • Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation, Ohio, $70,000

The People's Garden Initiative is a grassroots effort to grow healthy food, people and communities. There are more than 1,400 People's Gardens across the nation, three U.S. territories and nine foreign countries. USDA is working with more than 600 local organizations to create school gardens, community gardens and small-scale agriculture projects in urban and rural areas, collectively referred to as community-based agriculture.

People's Gardens are located at faith-based centers, on federal leased or owned property, at schools and other places within communities. All produce grown at a People's Garden on USDA owned or leased property is donated to help those in need. To date, the People's Garden has donated more than 1 million pounds of produce to local food banks, food kitchens and other charitable organizations through their 'Share Your Harvest' campaign, whereby USDA invites partners to share their harvests with neighborhood food pantries, kitchens and shelters, which helps improve access to healthy, affordable food at a local level. Search the People's Gardens Interactive Map to find out where our gardens are located. To learn more or to register your community garden as a People's Garden, click here.

For more information, click here.

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"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.

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Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.

That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.

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"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."

To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.


"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."

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