Thursday, January 8, 2009

White House farmer?

It sounds questionable when you first hear it, but some people want Obama to plow up five acres of the White House lawn and turn it into a garden that will feed the first family and guests of the White House and give the surplus to food banks in the DC area. Here is one man's letter of application. Hmm . . . it is not a bad idea. After all, that's what we're doing here. There was a big beautiful lawn to the east of our house when we first moved here. The suburbanite in me loved the perfectly lush lawn. The homesteader in me knew that the smart thing to do was to turn it into a garden.

Supposedly Eleanor Roosevelt had an acre of the White House lawn turned into a garden during World War II, which encouraged citizens to start their own victory gardens. Reportedly, Americans were able to grow about 40% of their own food in their backyards at that time. That's pretty impressive.

A biology professor at Joliet Junior College is trying to start a community garden there. After all, the college has one of the best cooking schools in the country, so it would make perfect sense for them to have access to the freshest possible ingredients. I've wondered why more colleges and universities don't have gardens to produce food for their cafeterias. Most of them certainly have the land for a garden.

As for the White House farmer, it would be interesting to see how Americans responded to such an appointment and to the idea of a White House garden. A couple weeks ago, I asked if I were smart, nuts, or trendy, and I imagine most Amerians would choose one of those words to describe a White House garden by the new administration.


MaskedMan said...

Whilst it's an amusing concept, in reality, it's just another attempt to use the President's name to push an agenda. Turning the White House lawn into a garden is fine, but it will in no way offset the huge footprint that White House posseses; it's symbolic, and largely pointless. Simply put, there are too many people, and not enough skills, in this country today for small-plot farming to make any difference except very locally. In addition, whilst giving fresh food to food banks would be a nice concept, the White House budget would be more efficient used dopnating cash directly to the various food banks - Indeed, most food banks can't accept much in the way of fresh produce anyway, as their operations are not set up to handle it.

I love that people can, and do, go back to the land, but it's a minority, niche, solution in this age. Hijacking the President's image to push an agenda that is only locally viable is not a particularly good idea, in my opinion.

Deborah said...

Sounds like your opinion falls somewhere between trendy and nuts? Locally viable is exactly the point. There are restaurants in Chicago, the suburbs, and even small towns in Illinois that use produce from local farms. They even identify the farms on their menus. A five-acre vegetable garden would produce a phenomenal amount of food, which is why there would be extra that would need to be donated somewhere. A garden that size would be far more than symbolic, although I wouldn't underestimate the value of the symbolism.


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