|The "White House Organic Vegetables Brand"?|
By A. Siegel
The Huffington Post
March 20, 2009
The United States has a bright, classy, and dedicated First
Family. Virtually every day brings another example of how we might actually have
the real "Best and Brightest" living at 1600 Pennsylvania avenue.
This evening, I took care of the heirloom tomato seedlings emerging on the
windowsill and went to check some of the best bloggers out there ... good news:
Michelle, Malia, Sasha, and perhaps Barack might doing the very same thing this
evening. Friday morning, Michelle will be bending her back and digging up part
of the White House lawn for a vegetable, an organic vegetable garden. While the
food from the garden (such as Arugula) will help feed the first family, the
savings on the White House grocery bill isn't the driving force.
Its most important role, Mrs. Obama said, will be to educate children about
healthful, locally grown fruit and vegetables at time when obesity has become
a national concern.
Who know what sort of influencers or discussions helped Michelle arrive at this
decision? Does it really matter, it is the very sort of exemplary activities
that have could have real meaning, associated with real policies that help
others pursue the same sensible paths.
Twenty-three fifth graders from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington will
help her dig up the soil for the 1,100-square-foot plot in a spot visible to
passers-by on E Street. (It's just below the Obama girls' swing set.) Students
from the school, which has had a garden since 2001, will also help plant,
harvest and cook the vegetables, berries and herbs.
We've heard that Michelle had decided that Washington, DC, would receive special
attention her, that the White House (that she) would pay attention to its 'neighborhood'.
What a path for engagement. And, what a path for the Obama girls to establish
friendships beyond their private school classrooms, weeding and getting food for
their dinners all summer long with these Barcroft students.
And, this was advocated by many as a symbolic measure as 'Edible Estates',
transforming America's addiction to sterile grass lawns into producing food, is
a key path toward a more sustainable and climate-friendly society as,
year-by-year, the average distance from the farm to the kitchen table gets
longer and longer (over 1000 miles, on average, in America).
Now, don't about the Bush family, but the previous Democrats also had some
home-grown vegetables, but nothing as impressive.
The Clintons grew some vegetables in pots on the roof of the White House. But
the Obamas' garden will have 55 varieties of vegetables -- from a wish list of
the kitchen staff -- grown from organic seedlings started at the executive
The Obamas will feed their love of Mexican food with cilantro, tomatilloes and
hot peppers. Lettuces will include red romaine, green oak leaf, butterhead,
red leaf and galactic. There will be spinach, chard, collards and black kale.
For desserts, there will be a patch of berries. And herbs will include some
more unusual varieties, like anise hyssop and Thai basil. A White House
carpenter who is a beekeeper will tend two hives for honey.
Have to say, this sounds like a pretty impressive 1100 square feet.
While most of use don't have dedicated greenhouses, a staff beekeeper, and other
support, what is the sort of cost to get this done?
Total cost for the seeds, mulch, etc., is $200.
Less than 20 cents per square foot for the dirt and the seeds for how many
$1000s worth of food? Imagine the formal White House dinner where the President
calmly mentions to another nation's leader that they're eating salad that he
picked earlier in the day with his daughters.
And, how organic will this plot be?
The plots will be in raised beds fertilized with White House compost, crab
meal from the Chesapeake Bay, lime and green sand. Ladybugs and praying
mantises will help control harmful bugs.
Have to say, this is one time where we should just say: go to the New York Times
article, its worth the read.
Now, this is partially about motivation. Will Michelle, Barack, Malia, and Sasha
motivate anyone with the dirt under their fingers. If D-Day is any indication,
the answer is yes:
This has inspired me. I currently don't have the space for a garden, but I've
been meaning to get one of those small planters on rollers to grow a few
crops. Thanks, Michelle.
Tuesday, Michelle was with YouthBuild on the Mall where one of the training
areas was on how to put in an organic vegetable garden on the roof of an urban
building. Friday, she will be getting dirt under her fingernails helping to
create an organic urban garden.
For helping foster a more sustainable, a healthier, a richer America, Michelle
Obama has had a good week.
I don't know about you, but I'm looking forward to seeing what she'll do next week.