My Day at the USDA

Maria goes to Washington…again.

7:20 am

This time it’s at the request of the Secretary of Agriculture himself! I will be attending a forum for expanding people’s gardens across America and the world! Not sure what that really means, but even though they got my job title and address wrong, I wouldn’t miss this for anything.

I’ll be blogging live throughout the day…

9:14 am


I’m at the People’s Garden Partnership Forum, a USDA initiative to dedicate a vegetable garden on the National Mall as a way of promoting healthful, nutritious food and natural resource conservation. And…

It’s going to be organic!!!!!

I heard it from the Secretary’s mouth.

The compost for the garden came from the Rodale Institute!

10:54 am


I’m in a meeting with about 20 people from all sorts of garden-related groups from all over. Our assignment is to figure out how to roll out the People’s Garden across America. It’s going to be an interesting day. Already, the young woman from the Yale Sustainable Food Project said maybe we shouldn’t be talking about “organic” since “people don’t understand what it means.” Boy will she hear from me by the end of the day.

And there are bagpipers in the building. Weird. Wonderful. Wild.

1:04 pm


OK, I think I got through to the Yale lady over lunch. This is an exciting project! Now this afternoon we have to figure it out how to make it all happen.

2:29 pm


Brainstorming makes my brain hurt. I’ve got to find some coffee, and fast!

10:25 pm


Drove home in the foggy rain and thought about what a strange and good day it was. Trying to understand how the government works is like trying to figure out a foreign language from a stone relic. It was only towards the end of the day that we realized they were not allowed to ask us for things. They put us together so we would realize that we should do things for them without being asked…still haven’t quite figured it all out. Met some wonderful people, got some great stories for my upcoming book, The Organic Manifesto, and got Secretary Vilsak to autograph my copy of the farm bill (which I’ve read from cover to cover, thank you very much).

And it was great to see my old friend George DeVault, who now heads up the seed savers exchange ( in Iowa. He’s the one who gave me all my guinea hens! If you need seeds, he’s the guy to go to.

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