“My colleagues and I at The Coca-Cola Company are delighted to support the China Garden and its important aim of building bridges of friendship and understanding between the great nations of the United States and China. We applaud Secretary Vilsack for his leadership in creating such an important legacy for our nation’s Capital and all who visit it." -- Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO, The Coca-Cola Company

As the leader of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), I spend a lot of time with farmers, ranchers, foresters, gardeners and others who care for the land. I understand the satisfaction that comes from nurturing something and seeing it grow and thrive over time.

You can learn a lot about a person by working beside them in a garden. The simple act of weeding and caring for a garden can bring people closer together. It isn’t much of a stretch to believe that countries can also learn more about each other and build a cultural bond through a garden. There is something in the act of building something together that helps to bridge the gap and build greater understanding between one another.

That is why the planned China Garden at the U.S. National Arboretum is so important to me.

Secretary Vilsack's
Secretary Vilsack

This 12-acre garden (view map) originally proposed in 2003 by representatives from China and the United States, is a joint effort between the United States and Chinese governments. When it is complete, the China Garden will offer a living classroom that will add to the beauty of the National Arboretum, a 446-acre USDA research and education facility in northeast Washington, D.C. It will help to foster a better understanding of Chinese culture and provide research opportunities in Asian gardens and plants. Perhaps most importantly, the China Garden symbolizes a commitment to continued friendship between the United States and China. 

The funding to construct and maintain the China Garden comes solely from private donors and is managed by the National China Garden Foundation. The Foundation is responsible for raising $60 million total for the construction, upkeep and to provide an endowment for associated cultural and educational programming. I hope that a number of you reading this article will choose to learn more and explore ways that you can be involved in this project that can have a lasting legacy. You can learn more about the project and our vision here: www.nationalchinagarden.org.

As leader of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Tom Vilsack works to strengthen the American agricultural economy, build vibrant rural communities and create new markets for the innovation of rural America.