Tuesday, May 15, 2012

USDA at 150

The USDA is 150 years old today.   On May 15, 1862 President Lincoln signed the order to create what he called The People's Department - the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  To honor Lincoln, the 'Abraham Lincoln Tomato' was introduced in the 1920s, and The People's Garden project was started in 2009, the 200th anniversary of his birth.

The USDA is hosting many activities at various sites, including the exhibit "What's Cooking Uncle Sam?" formerly at the National Archives in D.C. and sending out seed packets of the Abraham Lincoln heirloom tomato [image on right] to the 1,500 People's Gardens and others.   
The People's Garden initiative, started in 2009, the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth, was to encourage USDA employees to begin gardens at USDA facilities.  Currently, the USDA and 700 agencies "creating school gardens, community gardens and small-scale agriculture projects in urban and rural areas, collectively referred to as community-based agriculture." For more information on the initiative go HERE

The Abraham Lincoln Tomato, an heirloom variety was introduced in the 1920s by the H.W. Buckbee seed company in Rockford, Illinois. It "proved itself to be one of the great tomato classics that survived the shift to hybrids during the 1940’s... After the Buckbee firm closed, the tomato was continued by RH Shumway of Randolph, Wisconsin."

The NAL - National Agricultural Library, of the USDA has a marvelous collection.  The rare book room has stunning manuscripts, and many online resources such as the USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection with 3,807 images of apples [image on left].  Check out their website: NAL
©2012 Patricia Bixler Reber

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