A Victory Garden at the White House?

The next U.S. president is going to have the daunting task of fixing all that has gone wrong in this country. However, I believe that both candidates are overlooking an extremely important issue — our food system. As Michael Pollan said on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show, “It’s true that neither candidate has talked about food policy very much. Some of the issues they have talked about — energy independence, climate change and the health care crisis — I think they will find, as soon as they get into office, that you can’t deal with any of those three problems without dealing with the food system.”

Last month Pollan wrote an article in the New York Times Magazine which was an open letter to the next president called “The Farmer In Chief” where he laid out what is wrong with our food system and what needs to changed. The article has too many important points to lay out here so please read it.  However, I will highlight one. Pollan concludes his piece with saying that the White House needs to set an example for the rest of the world. I am a firm believer in setting an example for others whether they be our children, our friends or for the next president — the country.

Pollan recommends that the next President needs to create a new post — White House farmer — who would be in charge of five acres of the White House lawn that would be turned into an organic fruit and vegetable garden. This may sound silly but as Pollen points out back in 1943 Eleanor Roosevelt started the Victory Garden movement; vegetable and fruit gardens planted to ease the burden on the food system during World War II. According to Pollan, by the end of the war more than 20 million home gardens were supplying 40 percent of the produce American’s consumed. Victory Gardens today can help reduce our dependence on fossil-fuels and help address the problems of climate change.

Pollan is not the only one who thought of using the White House as a national organic garden  — two groups Eat the View and TheWhoFarm are petitioning the next president to plant an organic garden on the White House lawn.

“Eat the View” is a campaign to plant healthy, edible landscapes in high-impact, high visibility places; whether it’s the “First Lawn” or the lawn in front of your child’s school. “Eat the View” is coordinated by Kitchen Gardeners International, a Maine-based 501c3 nonprofit network of 10,000 gardeners from 100 countries who are inspiring and teaching more people to grow some of their own food. Roger Doiron the founder of Kitchen Gardeners International just wrote his own letter to the next president entitled “Message to the candidates: Listen to Roger the Gardner” stating the importance of this issue.

TheWhoFarm (aka The White House Organic Farm Project) is a non-partisan, petition-based initiative who is requesting that our next president oversee the planting of an organic farm on the grounds of the White House. The farm will be a model for healthy, economical and sustainable living everywhere and serve as an educational tool and economic aid, and as a means to provide food security in the Nation’s Capitol while reconnecting the Office of the Presidency to the self-sufficient agricultural roots of America’s Founding Fathers. TheWhoFarm have been traveling around the country educating Americans on the importance their mission in TheWhoFarmMobile, two school buses fused together with an organic edible garden on the roof.

Instead of a President that loves jelly beans or one that runs to McDonald’s to get a Big Mac or one who hates broccoli, how about a president that walks out his front door and picks his own lunch — or a least his farmer and chef do! Please sign both petitions. You can find the The WhoFarm petition by clicking here and the Eat the View petition by clicking here.

And don’t forget to vote on Tuesday!! Be part of this historic election.

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About Melissa Goldberg

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Pollanation » Justin Henry's green galoshes

  2. I personally would like to see both solar panels and the White House live on the 100 mile diet.

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  3. I tried talking with Roger Doiron about the problems with his proposal, and when I started hitting the points, he shut down our conversation.

    We here in DC have concerns with some very UNGREEN parts of his plan, as well as other points. He runs from them. Here is what needs to be discussed and brought to attention:

    First, the typical American family does not have 1 acre to use. I support the idea of the Obamas having a garden proportionate to what any family might have. Something that Michele and the girls could actually go out and enjoy and not pose a security risk to themselves. NOT 1 acre. ANY Master Gardener tells a newbie to start small. Going from none to 1 acre is not reflective of what Americans can do.

    Second, proposals include having school children tend the garden. It sounds sweet, but school buses leave huge carbon footprints. And, DC schools cannot be expected to tend the garden. Besides, when the garden is at its peak, the kids are on summer vacation.

    Third, lets be honest. Little kids hands have germs! They cough into them, wipe their noses on them. I don’t mind having my kids pick our veggies and WE eat them, but I don’t think it is wise for the Obamas to be eating veggies touched by hundreds of hands.

    Forth, lets be realistic. Even if adult volunteers came in and worked the garden, those veggies will likely never make it into the White House because it would be a huge security risk. They can screen the volunteers all they want, but all it will take is one crazy person to sneak in a small amount of a lethal substance to dump into the soil or on a plant.

    Fifth, Roger thinks the 13 landscaping staff can handle this project without volunteers. They are already working full time. There will need to be additional staff brought in who have been screened with all the background checks. Gardeners, not landscapers. And, the kitchen will need a couple of extra people to preserve food or prep it to go to the soup kitchens here in DC. We estimate around $500,000/year it will cost. NOT GREEN. It is so not the right message to send to the American people to pay someone to run a garden.

    We have so many organic farmers here in Maryland within a short drive to the White House. I wish these farmers were supported and their products used for all the large dinners at the White House, and the Obamas have a typical garden, not Roger’s idea. I want the message to be reasonable and realistic. A garden that ANY American can plant and take care of themselves.

    Finally…all these people ranting and chanting about having the White House lawn turned into a garden won’t step up. NOT ONE SINGLE ONE OF THEM ARE WILLING TO MOVE THEIR FAMILIES TO DC TO COME AND TAKE CARE OF IT! They run their mouths, they want their 5 minutes of fame in the media, but they won’t do the dirty work, literally.

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