Monday, July 16, 2012

Is gardening political?


The White House's organic vegetable garden
The other day I posted this photo of Michelle Obama out in the White House vegetable garden on my Sustainable Gardening for Florida Facebook page. I asked the question:
"Do you think Michelle's garden has changed the nation's mindset about organic gardening?"
I was expecting a discussion on organic vs. standard gardening, or maybe a comment on the raised beds. But no, the first two comments appeared to be politically motivated:
"...is she actually working in the garden herself ... or does she have someone else pull weeds and hoe ???"
"...I think most people have the same thought."
Then a couple of people countered with:
"You guys..she started a garden..brought attention to gardening..brought attention to healthy foods that come from a garden..and you want to find some kind of fault..are you kidding me?????? You think most people have the same thought? No they don't..GOOD people recognize GOOD works... and most people are good..BECOME good people and find the good..GEEZ..this crap has got to STOP!"
and
"She promotes gardening across the country, serves produce from the garden at State Dinners bring further attention to the garden and the results and has written a book about it."
When I finally logged back into the Facebook again, I said:
"Gosh, we're all gardeners here, aren't we? I think she has opened an important discussion and made a significant difference in how people think about vegetable gardens. She has introduced many of the local school kids to gardening, too. If we get kids involved in gardening now, the future will be better for them and for all of us.


And the profits from the book sales goes to the National Park Service, which maintains the White House property and so many other parks that house our natural treasures."
The first commenter came back with:
"and alll those people in white shirts re secret service personal protection --- eh ??? well , she is ussing and promoting monsato seeds and what not , i wouldnt trust her any further than i could throw a cow !"
And so it continued... Someone pointed out that "the seeds for The White House Garden are from High Mowing, a seed company that is so far removed from Monsanto that the difference is night and day." I could have pointed out that the people in the white shirts are the White House chefs who have fully participated in this project.
So, IS the organic vegetable garden on the White House property a controversial topic? 
What I recall is that the big chemical companies were quick to criticize the project saying that the garden could not succeed without their chemicals. That Michelle was giving ordinary Americans the wrong idea.
Some say that this is politics as usual and that the unrestrained anger toward the Obama's and anything and everything they do is fair game.
I disagree.
Some of the first ladies have initiated some great projects that seem to have been appreciated by the whole country and not made into a political scandal. Ladybird Johnson had a wonderful vision of beautifying the country and her legacy is the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.  Barbara Bush worked on literacy in the country and wrote a book from her dog's point of view. Laura Bush also worked on various literacy projects, which were appreciated by the left and right.
For example, my leftward leaning friend and author, Lucia St. Clair Robson, was invited to and attended an authors' breakfast at the White House. She went out of respect for the office and to particpate in lively discussion. Later she received this Christmas card from Laura.
Today, I think that people lack that respect.  It's a sad state of affairs when even gardening becomes political.
Can't we all just garden together for the greater good?
Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt

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