21 March 2009
America, Urban Agriculture
Michelle Obama, Rooftop Garden, White House Garden
Earlier today First Lady Michelle Obama led the groundbreaking for the new White House vegetable garden. The new 1,000 square foot garden is the first garden in at least eight years.
(The Clintons had a rooftop garden on the White House many years before rooftop gardens became a rapidly spreading (and very good) trend.)
FarmFed also has a larger photo gallery of the event, showing more than the “official” pictures on the above-linked White House web site.
It appears that they’re planting right in the ground; a “flat garden” in other words. It’s easier and more productive to grow food in a raised bed. Given that the planting season is almost under way, they may want to plan ahead to build the beds next year.
• Texas A&M Extension document on planning and building raised beds.
• University of Wisconsin Horticulture Dept. has good pictures of raised beds and other gardening approaches.
• WikiHow also provides good instructions on how to construct a raised planting bed.
(h/t Milwaukee Renaissance)
19 March 2009
America, Food, Urban Agriculture
President Barack Obama, White House Garden
Shortly after Barack Obama won election to the presidency, a movement spread across the ‘net calling on the Obama White House to have a vegetable garden on the White House lawn. That idea has been accepted and will soon become reality, according to ABC News.
Quoting that story:
“In an effort to promote healthy eating, the first family will be planting a vegetable garden right on the White House grounds.
ABC News’ Ann Compton and Sunlen Miller report that the new White House vegetable garden will be dug up and planted on the South grounds of the White House — near the fountain but out of view of the main house.
This is terrific news! It’s too bad the Obamas won’t be able to see the garden from the main house. It’s very calming to watch your garden to see how it progresses; about the only thing better is actually working in the garden and doing planting yourself. There’s really nothing like it. You get a sense of connection to something greater, e.g. life, the universe, and — yes — everything. It’s very spiritual, in other words. I’m going to have quite an adventure with a large garden in the near future, which will doubtlessly become the source of many posts on here.
Back to the ABC News story for a moment: the comments are in a way even more interesting than the story itself. Most are congrulatory and adjulate the Obamas for having the garden. A few are the token cranks, but they’re quickly piled on by the other commenters. One slightly better worded but still cranky commenter speculated that the decades of chemicals applied to make the lawn appear greener would eventually poison the Obama children. I would counter that any soil used in the garden will most likely be organic (chemical-free) soil brought in from off-site.
Update: Washington Post has a story on this:
The 1,100 square foot garden will include 55 kinds of vegetables, including peppers, spinach, and, yes, arugula. (The list of vegetables is a wishlist put together by White House chefs.) There will also be berries, herbs and two hives for honey that will be tended by a White House carpenter who is also a beekeeper. The chefs will use the produce to feed the first family and for state dinners and other official events.
The White House will be using organic seedlings, as well as organic fertilizers and organic insect repellents. The garden will be located near the tennis courts and visible to passerbys on the street. The whole Obama family will be involved in tending the garden, White House spokeswoman Katie McCormick Lelyveld said.