Human Journey

Tip #11: Plant a Garden, President Obama

By Wendy Gordon

It wouldn’t be the first garden at the White House—John and Abigail Adams planted theirs in 1800—nor the most exotic—the oval office, in fact the whole West Wing, was an “orangerie” and then a bounteous greenhouse until 1902. Even President Clinton, not known for his heart-healthy eating habits, grew vegetables, not in the yard but up on the roof.  But it would be a nice source of presumably organic vegetables for you and your family. And what chef accustomed to cooking with fresh ingredients wouldn’t love to have a kitchen garden right outside the door?

We don’t want to overplay the symbolism of a White House kitchen garden, but in a small way it could help us all to remember where our food comes from and how far it often travels to get to us. It also should remind us of the hundreds of thousands of small farms struggling to make ends meet, some not so far from our cities.

Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, according to the New York Times, hopes his agency can help small farmers in part by linking them with creative new market opportunities, like institutional buyers and government nutrition programs. Oh my, that is a germ of an idea worth planting. What if the White House Mess, government buildings throughout the District and government-managed nutrition programs across the country were to buy fresh food from local farms? How this might improve personal health and the health of rural economies.   

We know you also like to get out of the White House sometimes. Tending a garden can provide a great break from the demands of the office and give you some space to think.  And it’s fun to do with kids. But before you start digging Mr. President, check out Green Guide. You’ll find great gardening How-To videos, plus shopping suggestions for greener garden supplies.

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (dbraun@ngs.org)

Social Media