Document Type


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Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Social Work


The Green Thumb program was a prominent national feature of the rural “war on poverty” beginning in early 1966. A public works outdoor beautification program to employ low income older workers. It was modeled on the 1930s era Civilian Conservation Corps, and funded under contract to the National Farmers’ Union by the U.S. Labor Department. By the 1980s, when it was eclipsed by an experimental computer-based video text information delivery system for farmers of the same name Green Thumb had largely disappeared from public view. Today, a Google search with the phrase “Green Thumb program” turns up dozens of references to that latter experiment and to expertise in gardening and horticulture in general but almost no references to the earlier program. This paper was written in 1969 as part of the requirement for my graduate degree in public administration at the University of Minnesota. It is archived with my other papers lest we forget completely. Part I of this paper deals with an overview of the Green Thumb program, it’s organization and impact. In Part II there is a consideration of the role of the nonprofit sponsoring agency in carrying out social welfare programs. Part III is devoted to various exhibits and appendices related to the Green Thumb program. In the spirit of “maximum feasible participation” readers were invited to make comments on the sheets which follow the appendix.



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