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Victory Garden on the White House Lawn?

 
 
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 04:08 pm
A bunch of folks have created and signed a petition on Facebook urging President Obama to plant a kitchen garden on the front lawn of the White House. What are your thoughts about this?


The Idea:

Quote:
About this Petition:
This petition drive is part of the Eat the View campaign (EatTheView.org) which is seeking to plant healthy food gardens in high-profile, high-impact places. What better, more symbolic place to start than at the White House, "America's House?"

This petition drive is part of the Eat the View campaign (EatTheView.org) which is seeking to plant healthy food gardens in high-profile, high-impact places. What better, more symbolic place to start than at the White House, "America's House?" (show less)

The Desired Outcome of this Petition:
A garden at the White House that will inspire millions of Americans and people around the world to grow some healthy, tasty, and environmentally-responsible food of their own.

A garden at the White House that will inspire millions of Americans and people around the world to grow some healthy, tasty, and environmentally-responsible food of their own. (show less)



The text of the petition:

Quote:
To: President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama

We petition that…

you instruct the White House's 13-person grounds crew to plant an organic Victory Garden on the First Lawn with the produce going to the White House kitchen and local food pantries. The White House is "America's House" and should serve as a model at a time of economic and environmental crisis. In setting aside even a small part of the White House's 18 acres for this garden and eating from it, you would not be breaking with tradition, but returning to it (the White House has had organic food gardens before) and leading by personal example on global challenges such as economic security, food security, climate change, health care, and energy independence.

Sincerely,
The Undersigned
--------------------------------------------------------------

This was done with great success and community involvement at San Francisco's City Hall. PBS's Victory Garden Show did an episode on it if you're interested in seeing what it might look like.

Here's how that one was done

http://www.sfvictorygardens.org/cityhall.html

And photos of all the stages and participation:

http://picasaweb.google.com/nenphotographs/VictoryGarden08GH#

There's more at the link, these are just a few to give you a glimpse of it:

http://lh4.ggpht.com/_XbK8EEYsTGg/SHtxBI8YbgI/AAAAAAAABLs/fgtmS-AD0NA/s144/5.JPGhttp://lh4.ggpht.com/_XbK8EEYsTGg/SHtxRWeX1pI/AAAAAAAABMU/293VJiiMp1c/s144/11.JPGhttp://lh4.ggpht.com/_XbK8EEYsTGg/SHtyFYUTKjI/AAAAAAAABOQ/khwnwuzdwfE/s144/IMG_0197.JPGhttp://lh3.ggpht.com/_XbK8EEYsTGg/SHtzpKanweI/AAAAAAAABSo/nhFvfhChwFs/s144/IMG_0783.JPG


According to this article:

http://www.latimes.com/features/printedition/home/la-hm-victoryside10-2009jan10,0,6078866.story

The city-funded effort in San Francisco included the planting of one-third of an acre in the plaza outside City Hall, where 4,000 plants yielded hundreds of pounds of food for shelters.

It also inspired people in the Mission District to use their newly learned skills to plant smaller versions of the garden in their own neighborhoods and backyards.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 8 • Views: 1,221 • Replies: 16
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Merry Andrew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 04:14 pm
What a capital idea!
0 Replies
 
chai2
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 04:16 pm
My first reaction was that it would be so easy for someone to contaminate a garden so close to public access.
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 04:34 pm
I'm all for it. Of course, it's not really a new idea. They have been growing vegetables for the White House kitchen, on the property, for years- most of it on the roof. Laura Bush insisted all vegetables served at the White House be organic. Ironically, the Bush administration is responsible for weakening previous organic laws so that large corporations could pass off their factory farm food as organic (Tyson Organic is an oxymoron). These same changes then made it very expensive and difficult for small farms to become USDA certified organic. You can't buy organic based on the label anymore, you need to know the ethics of the company to be sure of the quality. I look forward to the removal of all that petroleum saturated sod and the sowing of beans and tomatoes.

ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 05:06 pm
@Green Witch,
I'm all for a good garden, perhaps with advice from Alice Waters .. or not. But where on the property they put it should be related to best garden exposure, and, I suppose, security... whether organic methods are used on the rest of the property, and so on. But, symbolically, I think it's a fine idea.
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 07:23 pm
@Green Witch,
Greenwich, do you have any links with info on the history of the rooftop gardens at the White House? I'd like to post it with the petition info. They're already doing what the petition is asking, so the incentive is there, they just need to bring it out of the closets and into the open as a model for the public.

Chai,

Does the public have access to the White House lawns? I thought it was all behind fences and guard posts. Never been there to see it so have to rely on photos and reports from others about the access.

But, you do have a good point that should be taken into consideration with the planning of it.
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 08:52 pm
@Butrflynet,
This is a letter to the NYTimes from former White House Chef Walter Scheib.

Quote:
Letters: The Presidential Palate

Published: December 30, 2008

To the Editor:

Re “Is a New Food Policy on His List?” (Dec. 24):

From 1994 to 2005 I was the executive chef at the White House. This offered me not only the personal honor of serving two unique and interesting first families, but the professional challenge of fulfilling Hillary Clinton’s mandate of bringing contemporary American cuisine and nutritionally responsible food to the White House.

This meant that nearly all the product used was obtained from local growers and suppliers. There was a small garden on the roof of the White House where produce was grown.

The ethic of the purchasing and the cooking at the White House under my direction and under the continuing direction of Cris Comerford is one of respect for the pedigree of the product and manner it is grown, gathered, raised or caught.

The Clinton and Bush families dined regularly on organic foods. Both wagyu and grass-fed beef were frequently used.

The presumptions of Ruth Reichl, Alice Waters and Danny Meyer, that the admirable agenda they espouse is not currently the practice in the White House kitchens, are false.

Walter Scheib

Great Falls, Va.


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/12/31/dining/31lett-THEPRESIDENT_LETTERS.html?_r=4&amp;partner=permalink&amp;exprod=permalink<br /> <br />

Quote:
Former White House Executive Chef Walter Scheib, who worked for Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, recently spilled the beans on his experience. He reports that local, organic produce and dairy, grass-fed beef and sustainable seafood were the preferred choice of both families. There was also a small produce garden on the roof of the White House, but who knew?

First lady Michelle Obama announced that she would be keeping the most recent Bush White House chef, Cristeta Comerford, who is used to serving organic meals. Scheib said that Laura Bush, "to her credit," was "adamant that in all cases if an organic product was available it was to be used in place of a non-organic product." That’s good news for the environment, for the first family’s health and for setting a national example.


http://www.columbiatribune.com/2009/Jan/20090128Food007.asp

The hypocrisy of Bush Organic:

http://thinkprogress.org/2009/01/15/laura-bush-organic/
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 08:55 pm
Thanks!
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 08:59 pm
A kitchen garden in an area best known for its marshiness. I could see xeriscaping, using native plants on the property, but a kitchen garden? Seems like some kind of liberal cliche waiting to be bashed (deservedly so, I think)

I'd almost rather see the lawn remaining, and I am not known for having any fondness for lawns.
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 09:01 pm
The public only has access to the main lawn for events like the Easter Egg hunt. Other times I believe it is off limits. President Wilson grazed sheep on the lawn for both lamb chops and grass maintenance, but otherwise the lawn has been a typical suburban show piece.
0 Replies
 
Green Witch
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 09:15 pm
@ehBeth,
You do have a point ehBeth. The marshiness would not be a problem because of the raised beds, but the overall maintenance would be difficult because vegetable plants do not behave like garden perennials.I think there should be a White House food garden, but making a kitchen garden the main focus in front of a classical building can be a challenge. I've seen the mock ups, and while they look nice, it's just the realty of vegetable gardening that the plants look raggy long before they finish producing, crops need to be rotated so the design is always in flux and it's just not practical to expect a potager to work the way a farm would. It could end up being an enormous amount of labor for questionable return.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 11:51 pm
I don't know about the white house site, one way or the other. I don't think decisions should be made from fervor, but from.. information. Re rooftops, I've no doubt ASLA and their rooftop garden link would be glad to help. National headquarters are in DC, far as I know.

I can see a bunch of re-landscaping (while I get the use of lawn.) Uh, maybe the local native grass guys.. using some shorter grasses.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 29 Jan, 2009 11:54 pm
@ossobuco,
So who added slow food (I'm a sometime member, depending on wallet).
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 02:46 am
@ehBeth,
The White House area had been tiled many years ago. It has an active grid of Orangeburg tiles that go into collection sumps that discharge to the Potomac watershed after a settlement and monitoring area (to assure against contaminants).

The idea of a victory garden has a lot of precedent at the White House and using raised beds will be nicer but be much more work intensive.
Like chai, Im awalys worried about public gardens and vandalism and terrorism. (What world we live in).

Organic Gardening using a compost from the National ARboretum on NY AVe, and maybe some horsey poop from the mounted police would be a start (HAve to check horsey poop for meds and worming med). The Wilsons used to raise sheep on the lawn and sell the wool inj an auction that was used to raise money for the war effort. I believe that Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt also had "victory gardens". Im certain that earlier presidents had gardens there but Im too lazy to look it up.

The exchange is that there are thopusands of farm gardens in the DELmarva and buying fresh (albeit not organic) produce for the WHite House kitchen is but a daily drive to the Eastern SHore or out Rt 50 to Front Royal.



sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 06:46 am
Good points here ('specially ehBeth and GreenWitch).
0 Replies
 
BumbleBeeBoogie
 
  1  
Reply Fri 30 Jan, 2009 09:07 am
@farmerman,
Here they are:

http://sidewalksprouts.files.wordpress.com/2008/05/c_07.jpg
0 Replies
 
littlek
 
  1  
Reply Tue 10 Feb, 2009 03:27 pm
@Butrflynet,
I love this idea. But, that shouldn't surprise anyone. I think food gardening should be taught in schools.
0 Replies
 
 

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