Thursday, April 2, 2009

Organic Gardening at The White House

I am sure at this point many of you have seen the lovely pictures of the always beautiful Michelle Obama in the new organic garden at The White House. You may at this point be asking yourself, what the heck could hotstuff take issue with an organic garden that little kids get to tend to and some of the food will go to a homeless shelter. And I would say that is a fair question, but then I want you to ask yourself, what exactly are they trying to do with this organic garden? Are they trying to influence the way that people think about food and growing food? Are they jumping onto the idea that the world would be a better place if all of us had our own gardens and made our own food supply while not hurting the environment?

There has been a recent push it seems towards organic gardening as an ideal way to help out our environment, our waistbands, and potentially our wallets, but do any of you know how time consuming it is to take care of an organic garden? let alone deal with pests and fertilizing an organic garden? Is this actually a feasible reality for the majority of people in our country who are working overtime just to keep their electricity on? Is gardening, dare I say it, an option only for the elitist few with the money, time, and land to do it? And with that in mind, should our president really be presenting this as an ideal? Please, I am grappling with this question, and would love to hear what you, our wonderful readers, think about it!

NYT Article on the Garden


Anonymous said...

Dearest Hotpants and Hotstuff,

I love your blog.

Isn't interesting that this story about the organic garden is coming up at the same time as suspicious rumors re: the possible outcomes of HR 875 (the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009)?

And, while I think your questions are spot on about who can actually afford organic foods... what about the agricultural laborers? In the US, many of those who work in the most dangerous crops, are those without medical care or even rights as citizens. I wonder what the danger is of eating non-organic food versus working in close proximity with herbicides and pesticides?

Jonathan said...

I haven't been gardening too long, and I suppose I fall into the category of elite few with money, time and land (or a landlord that's interested in letting me garden anyway), but I really don't think it takes too much time, money or effort to do a little bit of gardening (and not even that much land). If we are talking about gardening on the scale of getting most of your produce from the garden that might be more of a stretch (I'm not sure having not done that. My dad does spend a lot of time on his garden but also produces much more than he needs and gives a lot of it away.)

Last year was my first garden and it was incredibly easy to grow salad greens for the summer as well as a few other veggies to supplement my diet, which is great since I tend to not buy a lot of vegetables from the store so growing them is a convenient way to get me to eat them. I think as I get more experienced and have more years of work put into my garden it will get easier to be even more productive.

I imagine there are plenty of people who are too busy working to have energy they want to put into a garden. But there are also how many million people unemployed (and underemployed) right now? But even if you were quite busy, I bet you could do at least a salad green patch with a few hours startup time and less than an hour a week to maintain.

Seems like available land is a bigger issue for people in urban settings. If you have a lawn, I'm all for replacing at least part of it with garden (that's what I did last year). But if you live in an apartment in the city, you would probably have to be a bit more creative. I know of people who have pretty decent gardens using planters on their balcony or front steps. Around Seattle, they have community gardens you can sign up for (though I think they have a lot more people interested than space available). If the idea really catches on, maybe cities will start converting some park lawn space or abandoned lots into community garden space. I was just in Detroit a couple of months ago and that city is covered in space that looked like it could be turned into gardens.

hotpants said...

i'd have to agree with jonathan here. i think there are major issues of time and space for those people who are stretched thin... but the gardening learning/time curve isn't really that steep. i also, am much in favor of the obamas turning their over-fertilized gigantic lawn into something more productive and less polluting.

i think this issue of what messages the president should be sending in the time of economic crisis is also one to explore. i believe, though cannot prove that the people that garden both indoors and outdoors actually cut across many different economic and political lines. and yes, there are people out of job that cannot afford much, but gardening can be a source of solace as well.

also, the idea that barack is painting an elitist picture by organic gardening is a little too much for me. given that most of our presidents have come from huge wealth and this one has come from so little in way of family money, i can't get too upset about his family having some hobbies that make them stand out. at least they aren't fake ranching.