Feb 3rd, 2009

The White House — The Ultimate Urban Garden

Everybody seems to have their own favorite pick for the White House Farmer. Mine of course is Charlie Collins, who happens to be a good friend and the farmer at Victory Farms CSA.   Secretly, I’m glad he didn’t win (Charlie came in 8th)  since I was dreading loosing him to the Obamas.

But, as GardenRant’s  Susan Harris points out, the  voting for the White House Farmer brought in almost 56,000 votes in 10 days.  If nothing else, this speaks to how important the local gardening movement has become and how passionate (and wired) its members are.

Now, all the gardening community has to do is convince Obama that this would be an important first step in setting an example that the whole country could follow.  Here are the winner’s statements.  Who do you think should farm at the White House?

Carrie Little and Claire Strader write:

It is a great honor for us to be recognized by our communities as potential candidates for the first White House Farmer. We are thrilled by the possibility of converting a portion of the lovely White House lawn into a lively vegetable farm. As vegetable, fruit, and flower growers, we know that a well-managed organic farm can be at least as beautiful as a lawn and certainly more engaging, productive, and inspirational.

The fact that so many farmers were nominated for the White House farmer position and that so many individuals voted in this unique “election” speaks loudly to our combined interest in local, organic agriculture. As is made clear in each farmer’s nomination, there are many skilled growers who contribute significantly to local food movement throughout our country. We are all unique. We all have a somewhat different focus be it Community Supported Agriculture, or emergency food relief, or youth empowerment. Still, we share the common cause of feeding our local communities with the freshest, cleanest, most healthy food we can coax from the soil.

Taking personal responsibility to a new level by addressing the core issues of the Obama administration’s focus, this farm could be the example for the nation. It would clearly address economic insecurity, fuel conservation, climate change, and healthcare issues in a very tangible way. Collectively, this effort could be the center of the cultural shift needed to highlight the imperative that we need to eat locally and think globally.

Together we are working toward a new future of agriculture in our country. We believe that future is grounded in small-scale, organic food production that meets the nutritional needs of people within reach of the farm and is not shipped from coast to coast at great cost of fuel, freshness, and nutritional value.With the support of more and more eaters in our communities, that future is coming nearer. A White House farm and a White House farmer will be powerful symbols for this future of agriculture, not to mention a delicious resource for the DC community. No matter who becomes the first White House farmer we stand in support of the White House farm project and would be honored to bring our spades and worm castings and hula hoes to join in the effort!

Claire Strader, Troy Gardens

Carrie Little, Mother Earth Farm

Margaret Lloyd’s Statement

Change is here . . . in our backyards, in our communities, and in the White House.

By raising food at the White House, President Obama’s promise of change can include the most fundamental thing to Americans: the food they eat. For the First Family, the White House Farm would provide an opportunity to directly engage in agriculture, a place for inspiration and reflection, and the highest-quality, best-tasting food we the people can grow. To Americans, the White House Farm would show the President’s sincerity in his effort to address the hard issues within our food system, his support for local, organic food, and his openness to innovation. The White House Farm would also acknowledge the tireless work of more than a billion farmers worldwide, renewing America’s commitment to improve their conditions and alleviate hunger.

My farming experience inspired me to develop a system for growing food where people live, which led to my business, training people to become farmers at home, work and school. Now, I’m especially inspired by the surge of support for the White House Farm which has come from every corner – more than 55,000 voices. I’m also glad to learn of assistant Chef Kass’ taste for local produce.

The nominees are impressive and dedicated individuals, and I’m happy to see so many farmers on the same page. Thank you to all the people who participated in this wonderful grassroots movement! President Obama’s own election has reminded us of the potency of commitment and community. It is this commitment and community effort that can revolutionize America’s food system.

Thank you to the 5300 people who have supported me so far. I owe a big thanks to my sister Alex and brother-in-law Tom who really fired up the engines. Also, my brother, parents, family, all my friends and clients, the UC Davis community, and the people of Davis, who put their heart into spreading the word. Yes we did!  The work has just begun. I’m ready for the next step.

All this talk of urban gardening is just getting me excited not only for the first vegetables to start coming in from our local CSAs in April, but even more importantly about the urban gardening movement in general.  It won’t be long before Lewis Ginter is hosting <strong>”Green Tonic: Urban Gardening for Health & Wholeness”</strong> a 25th anniversary symposium, August 4-5th.

If we are lucky, the Obama’s garden-farm will at the height of producing summer’s bounty of vegetables — right in the middle of one of the most urban gardens in America.

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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