To celebrate Earth Day, I attended the dedication of the USDA’s People’s Garden, just outside the agency’s office in Washington, D.C. (To learn more about the genesis of the People’s Garden, read Gene Baur’s recent blog posting, Power to the People.) The plot is really shaping up, with several raised beds for vegetables as well as a container garden to show that personal food production comes in all shapes and sizes. Rain and hail prevented me from getting photos to share with you, but I can’t complain about Mother Nature, as she’s on our side.
The People’s Garden started as a seed of an idea. The positive feedback from the public served as the compost, enriching the soil to make the seed grow. Although still a seedling, the garden has expanded in size and the Agency’s commitment has grown to plan similar gardens across the country. The Washington Post ran a great article on this and how the garden illustrates the USDA’s mission to ensure good food for the people of our nation.
Visiting the garden was inspiring since I spent much of last weekend digging out a vegetable patch outside my own DC-based home office (with at least another weekend of digging to go). I encourage you all to do the same. If you don’t have a green thumb, don’t worry, there are lots of resources out there: your local agriculture extension office, master gardeners programs, local plant nurseries, and of course the internet. By planting your own victory garden or establishing a community garden to share with your neighbors, you are empowering yourself and taking control of where your food comes from and how it is produced. Now that’s activism!
Help keep the USDA on this positive path. Right now, the agency is developing a Roadmap for Agriculture Research, Education and Extension. Instead of seeing the same old study of how to make animals grow faster, quicker and for less money, wouldn’t it be great to see our tax dollars focused on animal welfare education and research that focuses on the interests and needs of the animals themselves rather than their usefulness to humans? I think so.Let the USDA know what you think.
Speaking of being on the right road, California’s Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture gave a passing vote to a bill banning “tail docking” in dairy cows. (The cows’ tails are cut off so they don’t swish dirt on udders and milking machines.) The 4 to 0 vote takes the state one step closer to compassion. A similar bill is pending in Illinois.