First Draft: White House “victory garden”

March 20, 2009

USA/Spring blew into Washington this morning and the signs are everywhere: the cherry blossoms are starting to come out, magnolia trees are budding and at the White House, workers are digging up the lawn.

Um, what?

As it turns out, the Obamas are part of the local food movement and plan to grow veggies in a patch of lawn on the executive mansion grounds. This was front page news in The New York Times, and a big headline in The Washington Post’s well-read Style section.

Calling up memories of the “victory gardens” of World War II, when Americans were encouraged to grow their own produce to help the war effort, the White House garden is not a brand new idea. John Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt had gardens, while Woodrow Wilson had a flock of sheep and the Clintons grew some vegetables in pots on the White House roof.

The Obamas seem to be taking gardening to a whole new level. They’ll have some 55 varieties of produce, from a patch of mixed berries — blueberries, blackberries and strawberries — to hot peppers, kale, collards and spinach, according to the Times, which featured a garden layout in their coverage.

Roger Doiron, founder of the nonprofit Kitchen Gardeners International, was elated. “I’m thrilled for the Obama family and for all who will be inspired by their example to grow gardens of their own this year.”

Alice Waters, the chef at the celebrated Chez Panisse restaurant in California and a booster of local eating, probably isn’t surprised. Back in January, she told Reuters she was heartened by signs from Michelle Obama that the president was concerned about childhood obesity and sustainable farming. “I’ve spoken to him through his wife,” Waters said then. “I’m encouraged.”

For those not into gardening, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is set to speak at midday on a familiar topic to Washington-watchers: “Financial Crisis and Community Banking.”

Photo credit: Cherry blossoms near the Washington Monument on March 27, 2008. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas


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Shouts of joy from NYS!! Yes! This is a worldwide issue, and everything is connected to everything and everyone. I am thrilled and excited. What a breath of fresh air!!!

Posted by Kathleen in NYS | Report as abusive

What a great idea. Everyone should plant a home veggie garden. It is therapeutic for your soul and great fresh eats! I have had a garden every year after my parents. I love being outside in the summer. I try new plants each year, the best are fresh peas off the vine. Good for them!

Posted by Lucy B | Report as abusive

Martha; my neighbor says,”Don’t plant what you can’t eat.” I am in agreement with people using their yards for the provision of food for their tables. Our lives have been disconnected from the basic realities by the ability to “hire it done” for so long that many people can’t MAKE anything or DO the things that provide their food, clothing, and shelter. Next time someone hollers gourmet at you, ask them if they can grow their own; because if they can’t grow food, they can’t really know and appreciate food. I’m glad to see the White House lawn going under a tiller. My back yard has held a food garden for years and there is nothing so good as a home grown Brandywine tomato. I know because I have grown most of the others as well. So there you go.

Posted by Teresa ray | Report as abusive

This sort of thing is not just good for the environment, or local communities, or any of the other reasons people grow their own vegetables. It’s good for America. A more efficient, self-sustaining, back to basics way of life is the way forward for a prosperous nation.

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

Posted by Von in WA | Report as abusive

I love that they’re doing this. Hopefully they will set an example, that every one could follow at home.

Posted by Pam Miller | Report as abusive

In the country of Lesotho, where I was a volunteer with the US Peace Corps, the schools were encouraged to grow gardens for the students lunches.

Now, since I have returned home, I have seen schools in our country showing students how to grow vegetable gardens. Some using composts and natural organic means to grow wonderfully tasting vegies.

The Presidents wife, Michelle Obama has shown many countries around the world the importance of children and their gardens.

How wonderful.


Posted by mj bergherm | Report as abusive

Washington Mutual Bank was seized by The FDIC 9/25/2008. It was one of the biggest news item the media reported. However, when the owners of this bank fight back its not news. Something wrong here I am copying a report from another paper here. Is there justice and even handedness among the media? It maybe not big news to the world but remember that after the seizure didn’t we see a marked increase of lack of faith in the financials that lead to a drop in the stock markets globally? Shouldn’t this act of fighting back restore some confidence? after all it is recourse to remedy the ones who feel grieved by wrongful acts of the most powerful in society.
Home > Washington Mutual files $17 Billion + Damages lawsuit against FDIC

(Dow Jones)–Washington Mutual Inc. (WAMUQ) Friday sued the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. over the takeover of Washington Mutual Bank, seeking billions in damages for the loss of its prized thrift. A complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., says WaMu’s former parent is entitled to recoup up to $6.5 billion in capital contributions it made to the thrift from December 2007 through the September 2008 seizure.

http://wwwDOTi-newswireDOTcom/pr265979.h tml

Posted by Jack Matalka | Report as abusive

I have been involved in organic gardening and alternative
health for many years. I know the value of them and keep
abreast of the threats to them.

Codex Alimentarius does not get near enough attention. Codex Alimentarius represents the single largest threat to our health and freedom. We are talking about control of our food supply and the banning of vitamins and herbal supplements.

Organic seeds will be considered contaminants and you will be fed the genetically modified (GMO) food that has too little nutrients.

Posted by Paul Turner | Report as abusive