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Mike Green Visits Powell Elementary School for People’s Garden Initiative

by Staff Writer / Washington Capitals
ARLINGTON, Va. – Washington Capitals defenseman Mike Green paid a visit to Powell Elementary School on Thursday, Feb. 10 and participated with the students in a garden design session. The Capitals and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have partnered to build a garden at Powell Elementary School this spring through the USDA’s People’s Garden initiative. The Capitals adopted Powell Elementary School, a primarily minority school for preschoolers through fourth graders, this season.

“Growing up on a farm in Calgary really helped me learn the benefits of healthy eating,” Green said. “My uncle is a gardener so I really wanted to participate in this project. I had a good time meeting the kids and I know this is going to be a great experience for all of us.”

The People’s Garden Initiative director Livia Marques, USDA Forest Service landscape architect Matt Arnn, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service landscape architect Robert Snieckus, Comcast SportsNet and Capitals alumnus Alan May and Green assisted the students in designing the garden and deciding what plants should be included in it. Parents, along with students and teachers from the first, second, third and fourth grades took part in the assembly with Green and May while the USDA provided volunteers to visit the younger students and get their input for the garden. The students worked in groups drawing their ideal gardens. Green, May, Arnn and Snieckus went table to table adding their touches to the garden designs. After they had finished their creations, May interviewed each group, allowing the students to share their designs with their classmates.

The next step is for the landscape architects, who collected the students’, teachers’ and parents’ drawings, to come up with a couple of options for the garden. The USDA, Green and May are scheduled to return to Powell in March to present the designs to the school. The garden groundbreaking is planned for April.

The People’s Garden 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, which started as an effort by USDA to challenge its employees to establish People’s Gardens at USDA facilities or help communities create gardens through collaborative efforts, has grown to challenge any one person, community or organization to establish these gardens. 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 and encouraging beneficial insects that feed on destructive pests.

About the United States Department of Agriculture’s People’s Garden

The People’s Garden initiative is an effort by the United States Department of Agriculture which challenges its employees to establish People's Gardens at USDA facilities worldwide or help communities create gardens. People's Gardens vary in size and type, but all have a common purpose - to help the community they're within and the environment. For more information, go to

To see the photo gallery from the event, please click here.
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