Are Organics On The Menu For The White House?

3144647385 7d0c0ec1b7 300x199 Are Organics On The Menu For The White House?

I’ve read that President Obama isn’t keen on lobbyists in his White House, and recently restricted gift swapping to and from special interest groups and his staff, but I wonder if that rule encompasses the sharing of local fruits and vegetables? There’s a new breed of lobbyist coming to Washington, determined to ease the new President into the role of “Organic Gardener-In-Chief,” and they come with garden plans in hand!

Many months ago the New York Times published an article suggesting the re-establishment of a Victory Gardenon the White House grounds, like the one that had existed under Eleanor Roosevelt’s watchful eye. Such a garden would serve as both a food source for the White House family itself, while also serving as a visual example for the American people. The author argued that if the Obama family led the way, they would encourage other families to produce their own food, as a means of defraying the cost of proper nutrition. Another goal that hearkens back to The Depression and WWII era is that Victory Gardens provide a type of “food security” for families in a era where globally changing temperatures, and weather patterns threaten the massive farm tracts that much of the country relies on for produce production. The original article spurred the creation of the website,which began documenting their goals to present the Obama administration with a complete and organized garden plan.  The group went a step further than the article that inspired them, and opted to create an edible landscape plan for the White House that would be organic as well. As the site’s goals spread amongst gardeners and bloggists alike, a contest formed, and professional organic farmers competed with hobbyists, presenting their best bid packages of sketches, and companion planting charts, to the website’s judges for approval.

Once the entries were accepted, 56,000 votes were cast on the website in only 10 days by gardeners across the country, and a winning design was selected – tailor made to thrive in the DC environment, and to provide the White House with a wide assortment of fresh fruits and veggies. “The White House Farmer” has since packaged and sent to the Obama Administration a portfolio of ideas for a future Obama Organic Garden, and is waiting for their reply with baited breath.

There is a growing underground movement in online gardening communities to encourage the Obama White House into gardening with more edible plants, and White House Farmer is just one of many sites that is creating videos, written letters, and other forms of encouragement toward that end. With more and more gardeners enlarging their vegetable plots this year, there is a renewed interest in the old idea of “Victory Gardening” during hard times. Being a lover of history I did a little research on the life and times of personal and crop focused gardening at the White House, and found this very cute video that gives a simplified version of the story of gardening on Pennsylvania Avenue, and had to share it with you!

My Thoughts: I think that having a vegetable garden in front of the White House is a great idea! It would be a great thing if more people took a hands-on approach to providing food for their family, and the Obama’s are in a prime place to provide exposure to the practice of organic gardening. It might be that right now with so many people watching their wallets, that fruit and vegetable gardening will regain the popularity it had many years ago.

I have lived within a short drive of Washington DC for most of my life, and unfortunately don’t think that a  White House veggie garden will get serious consideration for security reasons, and lack of interest. 911 changed Washington and all of the local divisions of government greatly, and although Obama seems to be trying to make himself more accessible to the public, the security around even just the Capital building has been such that zero chances are taken with the health of our governing members. While security around the White House would probably be able to guarantee that the food would not be tampered with, I still don’t see the staff wanting to take on this additional burden. The White House chief chef already purposely buys organic and locally grown produce from farms, so hopefully if the White House Farmer folks can’t get a garden put on the lawn they can comfort themselves with the other ways that the new administration tries to be eco-friendly.

What do you think about the idea of a Victory Garden at the White House?  Do you have a Victory Garden of your own, and will the economic time cause you to consider differently what you plant this spring?

Photo courtesy of:  cliff1066

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  1. GreenChick says:

    What a great idea! I personally will have a larger garden this year to help defray grocery costs. I stick to the easy stuff, lots of tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow squash, zucchini and the like. Can’t wait to make some zucchini bread. Yum!

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