By Jana Mikulasova, FAS Agricultural Specialist, .S. Embassy Prague
The Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office in Prague, Czech Republic, joined the People’s Garden initiative in the summer of 2009, when employees started planning their project, researching potential garden sites, and identifying input suppliers and partners. Their effort bore fruit in summer 2010 with the first Czech People’s Garden planted at the U.S. Embassy compound in Prague.
Promotional efforts by the U.S. Embassy generated high visibility for the project. The ensuing public attention convinced FAS Prague to seek a partner site that would be more accessible to the public. In 2011, the People’s Garden relocated to Pruhonice Dendrological Park, a 73-hectare botanic garden that is open to the public and is part of the Silva Tarouca Research Institute for Landscape and Ornamental Gardening.
The relocation resulted in even broader publicity for the People’s Garden, generating increased interest among local organizations and schools. The Pruhonice Dendrological Park cooperates with a number of school districts in the Prague region. In 2011, the Park presented the “People’s Garden in Prague” to visitors of all ages, providing educational tips and hands-on involvement to teach them about healthy lifestyles, consumption of fresh foods, planting and harvesting techniques, and caring for our environment. Visitors are also taught about organic practices, from composting to rainwater capture. Since teen and child obesity is a concern in the Czech Republic as well as in the United States, First Lady Michelle Obama’s dedication to this problem via the “People’s Garden” concept has captured the attention of local community leaders in Prague.
FAS Prague continues to promote the People’s Garden via flyers printed by the Dendrological Park and the cooperating partners, as well as through a dedicated website managed by the U.S. Embassy with input from local organizations.