Digging begins tomorrow on a garden that will have practical value but may also come to have significant symbolic value: an organic garden on the White House lawn.
The idea of a visible garden on the White House lawn has long been advocated by Alice Waters. As reported by Marion Burros in the New York Times, twenty-three fifth graders from the Bancroft Elementary School will help start the digging on the 1,100 square foot plot. Although the garden will be overseen by Sam Kass, the students will also have an ongoing role in planting and harvesting a variety of vegetables, berries, and herbs.
According to the article, the entire first family–including the President–will pull weeds and help tend the garden. As noted in the article:
While the organic garden will provide food for the first family’s meals and formal dinners, 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.
In an interview in her office, Mrs. Obama said, “My hope is that through children, they will begin to educate their families and that will, in turn, begin to educate our communities.”
Many Slow Food members and friends have been hoping for signs of support from President Obama and others in his administration. The First Lady’s active, hands-on support of the White House vegetable garden surely heralds a new attitude toward food, and we look forward to progress reports as the garden grows.