Finally, after years of trying without success, food activists, like Alice Waters, saw their dream come true when First Lady Michelle Obama broke ground for a White House vegetable garden.
Not since World War II, when Eleanor Roosevelt planted her famous Victory Garden has the White House had a vegetable garden “out back behind the house”.
It was widely reported that near the end of the Second World War, the nation’s 20 million gardeners who were inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s efforts, produced 40% of the nation’s total food production.
“The symbolism of putting a seed in the ground is a promise of a real nourishment and education for the population who visits, the people who plant the crops and the people who pick from it”, says Alice Waters, chef of Chez Panisse and author of countless books about educating young and old alike about healthy eating (including The Edible Schoolyard, now available at Hammertown. Also, check out her recent 60 Minutes interview below.)
Even the garden-savvy Brits are excited about the prospect. British gardener, Lorna McKeand had this to say: “If the First Lady can do it, well so can I. You know she’s prepared to get her hands dirty. And it’s a good leveling, sort of democratic thing to do, isn’t it?”
The White House will be using organic seedlings as well as organic fertilizers and insect repellents. And, according to the Washington Post, the whole Obama family will be involved in tending the garden.
Also in the Obamas’ backyard…berries, herbs and 2 hives for honey to be tended by a White House carpenter who also just happens to be a beekeeper!
The hope is to make the idea of organic food, farmers markets and gardens less “elitist”. To help dispel that perception, Michelle Obama has stayed away from using terms like “organic and sustainable”, preferring to use words like fresh and nutritious. Her mission is to promote the idea that healthful and wholesome food is good for everyone not just the rich.
Whatever she calls it, it’s a happy day for those of us who support our local growers, nurseries and producers of sustainable food. And, it serves to inspire those of us who have our own vegetable gardens.
So…grab your shovels and start digging!