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A Lake Erie beach. It would be nice if someday people could swim here.

Of course, it’s very good that the White House and the National Park Foundation have decided to maintain a food patch on the property. And let’s be clear on one thing right away: I am a big fan of both Obamas and would be happy to see them stay in the WH indefinitely. Kudos also to the Burpee Foundation for its recent $2.5 million gift to maintain the garden after the Obamas leave at the end of the year.

It is important to eat seasonally and locally, which I try to do, though without growing the food myself. But the WH garden never seemed like much more than a stunt to me, albeit a good one. Nobody really finds a vegetable garden all that revolutionary. It sets a good, sensible example, but there are other gardening examples that might be more startling—at least to many Americans. Like less lawn or lawn alternatives. Like more native plants. Like a meadow on the property. I’ve enjoyed the photo ops of kids harvesting in the garden, but I’d also love to see those kids running through a White House meadow.

The garden’s new inscription includes the words with the hope of growing a healthier nation, but if that’s really the hope, there are more important ways in which government should help maintain public health. One of the most essential is preserving our supply of clean water. According to a wide range of reports, the Clean Water Act is violated regularly. There are just too many ways for polluting industries of all types (including farming) to around it, by it, or under the radar of it. And like many, I am not convinced that fracking (supported by government for the most part) does not pose a threat to groundwater. I’m also concerned about the effect growing GMO crops (supported by the administration) has on the environment.

I don’t mean to quibble. There have been many environmental victories (in the face of formidable opposition) over the past eight years as well. There is no doubt that the current occupants of the WH understand the importance of healthy food, air, and water, for the most part. I hope future administrations will do half so well. And that they enjoy the garden.

Posted by

Elizabeth Licata
on October 13, 2016 at 9:13 am, in the category Gardening on the Planet.