NEW YORK — In celebration of the one-year anniversary of the renewal of the USDA People’s Garden Initiative, NRCS New York employees and other partners collaborated in a spring clean-up in the Bronx on May 5th at Taqwa Community Farm and the Garden of Happiness. Together, garden members and partners from The New York Botanical Garden, Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center, and Xerces Society, cleaned out 30 cubic yards of waste, weeded raised beds to prepare them for planting, and planted native plants for pollinators provided by Xerces Society.
The following day, a dedication ceremony celebrated the Garden of Happiness’ designation as a People’s Garden partner during an hour-long event. The Garden of Happiness is one of the two USDA People’s Gardens in The Bronx—along with Taqwa Community Farm. These gardens are part of a larger network of over 550 gardens supported by NYC Parks GreenThumb, the nation’s largest urban gardening program. The Urban Soils Institute on Governors Island is the 3rd USDA People’s Garden in New York City, one of the 17 Urban Hubs around the country.
Speakers at the dedication included Karen Washington of the Garden of Happiness, Abu Talib of Taqwa Community Farm, Congressman Richie Torres, NYC Parks First Deputy Commissioner Iris Rodriquez-Rosa, Qiana Mickie, Executive Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture, and Blake Glover, New York State Conservationist for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Remarks were followed by a tour of the garden.
“Community gardens are the product of people power,” said Congressman Torres. “The Bronx has a long history of harnessing people power to turn blight into beauty.”
The Garden of Happiness and Taqwa Community Farm were selected for funding to educate the community on growing food, help provide a source of fresh and nutritious food, connect people to nature and green spaces, and provide a place of refuge. Funding also helps with various needed conservation improvements such as raised beds and rainwater harvesting. The Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Foundation is the managing partner for the partnership agreement while the New York Botanical Garden’s Bronx Green Up Program provided much needed conservation technical assistance to the gardens.
“USDA selected these gardens for funding based on their commitment to serve and empower this community,” said Glover. ”These funds will allow them to grow food for consumption and to provide to those in need.”
“We are thankful to USDA and the federal government for their support for our community gardens, and were so happy to join them at this event highlighting their great work,” said NYC Parks First Deputy Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa. “This partnership is a great example of government partnering with communities, and we will continue to champion our city’s community gardens and support them into the future.”
“Community gardens and urban farms are the lungs of New York City,” said NYC Mayor’s Office of Urban Agriculture Executive Director Qiana Mickie. “The People’s Garden Initiative provides critical funding and support to land stewards to make gardens inspiring hubs of growing healthy food, soils, and community power. I look forward to more vibrant NYC gardens becoming designated People’s Gardens.”
On May 3, 2022, USDA renewed the People’s Garden initiative. Today there are more than 1,250 registered gardens in the U.S. and internationally, with New York leading the way in the total number of gardens registered. People’s Gardens empower communities to participate in local food production and provide diversity and resiliency to the food supply chain. They also teach about the benefits of sustainable, local agriculture and how gardening can foster community collaboration, provide green gathering spaces, and benefit the environment. Community gardens, urban farms, school gardens, and small-scale agriculture projects in rural, suburban and urban areas are all invited to join the People’s Garden community.
“This is what these gardens are all about,” said Washington. “Planting the seed, bringing community together, and nurturing the next generation.”
HOW TO GET INVOLVED
Are you a member of a community garden, or do you want to find a People’s Garden near you?
The People’s Garden community is growing! Last May, USDA renewed the People’s Garden initiative. On the anniversary of this reopening, we invite you to join approximately 1,200 other People’s Gardens nationwide by registering on the USDA People’s Garden website. Community gardens, urban farms, school gardens, and small-scale agriculture projects in rural, suburban, and urban areas can join the “People’s Garden” community.
We invite you to:
- Join the People’s Garden community.
- Grow using sustainable practices that benefit people and wildlife.
- Teach about local, resilient food systems.
People’s Garden locations are marked on a map on the USDA website and may be featured in USDA communications. You’ll receive a People’s Garden sign to display, learn about People’s Garden community, and gain access to resources such as webinars.
The People’s Garden community is open to eligible gardens nationwide, including school gardens, community gardens, urban farms, and small-scale agriculture projects in rural and urban areas.
To register a public garden as a People’s Garden on the USDA website, visit www.usda.gov/peoples-garden, and fill out a registration form.