My friend Charlie Nardozzi is today’s guest blogger. He’s a respected horticulturalist that shares his expertise through television, radio, books and articles. He presently is the senior horticulturist and spokesperson for the National Gardening Association (NGA).
Amidst a torrent of bad economic news there are some bright lights shining. One that is close to my heart and stomach is food gardening. People are starting to grow some of their own food again. I’m not surprised because historically, whenever, the economy goes down, vegetable gardening goes up. But there are other forces at work in this edible gardening renaissance. People are vegetable gardening not only to save money, but to create a personal lifestyle. Yes, you can save hundreds of dollars in food costs by growing your own vegetables in as small as a 200 square foot garden. And absolutely home grown veggies taste better and are more nutritious. But a garden is also a way to take control over some aspect of your life. With home grown veggies you know the quality of the food you’re eating. Plus, a garden is a way to reduce pollution, create wildlife habitat, and reduce your carbon footprint. By growing a veggie garden you’ll reduce the amount of produce that needs to be shipped across the country to your home, reducing our energy needs and pollution.
Many gardeners know all these benefits and more. I often feel like we’re preaching to the choir when talking about this subject. The question is how do we spread the word about gardening and make it not just a trend until the hard times pass, but a piece of the new fabric of an American life. That’s where Barack Obama and the first family come in.
I’ve joined a movement to petition president-elect Obama to build an organic kitchen garden at the White House. Think of the symbolism and precedent it would set! A White House Kitchen Garden would say more about the president’s policies on food, hunger, energy, and the environment than any speech he could make. The food grown there could be used to feed White House guests and support the local food shelf. I can already see Sasha and Malia skipping through the garden picking strawberries and cherry tomatoes. A White House kitchen garden would inspire thousands of people across the country to grow vegetables in their yards, community gardens, and schools.
A garden at the White House is not without precedent. Eleanor Roosevelt grew Victory Gardens at the White House during World War II. Woodrow Wilson grazed ship on the White House lawn in the early 1900’s. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and other early U.S. presidents had vegetable gardens to feed the White House staff. There’s 18 acres of White House grounds. How about taking a few hundred feet of those grounds for an organic vegetable garden?
So how do we start? Simple. Go the Eat the View website and sign the petition to get an edible garden on the White House grounds. Perhaps more importantly though, grow an edible garden in your own yard this spring. Start small, grow what you like to eat, and do it with friends and family.
The change happens one step at a time. This is a time of change in America and we have a chance to place a new stamp on how we live with the planet and each other. Join the cause and eat the view.
To learn more about Charlie Nardozzi, Call (802-863-5251 x105), or e-mail Charlien@garden.org