Earth Day celebrations began Sunday on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. with a large-scale event as hundreds of thousands of people witnessed the official launch of the Green Generation – an initiative that will culminate on the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2010. This initiative includes ordinary people who are engaged in individual and collective activities to improve their health, to improve their schools, to participate in building a solution to urgent national and global issues, such as climate change or the world's water crises.
On Tuesday Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that $144.3 million in loans and grants would be distributed to 56 communities in 34 states for infrastructure projects that would improve water quality and availability. A complete list of recipients is available at www.rurdev.usda.gov.
"Earth Day is the perfect time to highlight President Obama's efforts to reinvest in and rebuild America's rural communities," Vilsack said. "Strategic investments such as the ones announced today will help improve the economy and the quality life for rural residents."
Wednesday during the national observation of Earth Day, USDA will hold its first Farm to Fork Festival on the National Mall to celebrate the unveiling of The People's Garden. There will be interactive demonstrations and information for children and adults about compositing, organics, beekeeping, pollinators, soil, destructive bugs, and MyPyramid.
As part of Wednesday's festivities, Deputy Ag Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Joseph Brings Plenty and youth will plant the Three Sisters Garden at The Peoples Garden in honor of American Indians' contribution to agriculture.