Keep America Beautiful (KAB) affiliate organizations have responded to the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) call to action in sustaining 670 community gardens this past year as partners in the USDA’s People’s Garden Initiative.
“Keep America Beautiful affiliates have always been leaders in beautification and community greening at the grassroots level,” said Keep America Beautiful President and CEO Matthew McKenna. “The People’s Gardens initiative, and our partnership with the USDA, is a demonstration of how the work of our affiliates fosters civic pride and sustainable gardening throughout the country.”
The City of Moline, as a KAB affiliate, has received recognition for creating a People’s Garden along Ben Butterworth Parkway through its Garden Guardians Program. The certificate, as received earlier in the week from the Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsak, will be presented to the Keep Moline Beautiful Commission at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, December 14, at 6:30 pm. Accepting on behalf of the Keep Moline Beautiful Commission will be Mary Lind, Chairman of the Garden Guardians Committee.
The gardens along the Parkway are a result of efforts by the Garden Guardians, a citizen beautification initiative in which volunteer groups and individuals adopt flower beds. The volunteers do weeding, planting, and spreading of city-supplied mulch within their adopted gardens. Two volunteer groups have also painted benches within their gardens. Currently, there are 12 volunteer groups that have adopted gardens.
Mary Lind of Keep Moline Beautiful Commission and her committee have been instrumental in development the Garden Guardians program. “The Garden Guardians are pleased to be a part of a nation-wide initiative to improve our community, said Mary Lind. “Through this program, the Guardians have adopted 17 flood-damaged flower beds along the Parkway and worked to change them into beautiful gardens. The gardens are a source of pride for the entire community and are enjoyed by hundreds of walkers, joggers and bikers every day.”
The City of Moline was also recognized for their efforts with the Adopt-A-Park program, and other city entry points where flowers and plantings have been completed.
“Real and effective change starts small and it starts in our communities” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “With the help of Keep America Beautiful we can ensure that the ideas behind the People’s Garden are adopted and improved upon in communities across the country.”
About the People’s Garden Initiative
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and People’s Garden Director Livia Marques invited Keep America Beautiful to join this sustainable garden movement at KAB’s 2009 National Conference in Washington, D.C. Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s largest community improvement network, responded by engaging nearly 200 of its national network of affiliates in this effort to incorporate sustainable conservation practices.
The People’s Gardens program was launched by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Feb. 12, 2009, to commemorate the bicentennial of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. The initiative is an effort by the USDA to challenge its employees to establish People’s Gardens at USDA facilities or help communities create gardens through collaborative efforts. Each ‘People’s Garden’ can vary in size and type, but they must include the following three components:
- Benefit the Community: Gardens benefit communities in many different ways. They can create spaces for leisure or recreation that the public can use, provide a harvest to a local food bank, be a wildlife friendly landscape, or be a rain garden to absorb storm water run-off and protect the soil from erosion.
- Be Collaborative: The garden must be created and maintained by a partnership of local individuals, groups, or organizations.
- Incorporate Sustainable Practices: The garden must include gardening practices that nurture, maintain and protect the environment such as:
- Capturing rainwater in rain barrels
- Composting and mulching
- Planting native species
- Encouraging beneficial insects that feed on destructive pests