Saturday, March 21, 2009

Happy Spring

When First Lady Michelle Obama spent her Friday (the first day of spring) turning over soil for a new White House garden, I could imagine the smile lighting up Michael Pollan’s face. Author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and point man for eating locally, Pollan has been an outspoken advocate for converting some of that South Lawn to garden beds.

But best of all was the news that fifth-graders from Bancroft Elementary in the District were on hand to help. They’re already green thumbs, thanks to their school gardening program. Their trip to the White House sounded like more than a photo opp. The students will be invited back to help with planting, and again to harvest and cook with fresh produce. Lots of learning opportunities ahead.

The Edible Schoolyard concept has spread far and wide since California chef Alice Waters got things growing at a middle school in Berkeley, Calif. Developing and sustaining a strong outdoor education program, including gardening—that’s takes ongoing effort. In my hometown of Portland, Ore., Lewis Elementary School has engaged the community in developing a multifaceted outdoor learning program that makes use of gardens, greenhouse, rain barrels, and even a covered outdoor classroom. (Hat tip to Principal Tim Lauer.)

Garden season has me thinking about what Pollan said during a lecture stop in Portland earlier this year. Convincing the new president to be an advocate for sustainable agriculture will require a strong push from the people, Pollan said, adding, “He needs to feel the wind at his back.” Maybe he just felt a little breeze from the South Lawn.
Photo by Tim Lauer


Charlie Roy said...

All this talk of gardening makes me want to throw myself into the mix this spring and take a stab at my own garden. I wish my own children's school was doing such a project.

I read about a school last month near L.A. a middles school where they actually grow the majority of the food they use in the cafeteria.

Suzie Boss said...

Hey Charlie,
Know what you mean--I just spent the morning planting blueberries. There are many great school gardening programs around the country, and some of the best bring all that healthy produce into the school lunch program. Talk about learning with a real purpose.

Jane Krauss said...

I read some folks were annoyed that Obama took time during this finance debacle to lay out his March Madness picks. I say let the man have a few hobbies-- The basketball playing will limber him up for gardening. A visit to a breezy South Lawn can only help settle his nerves and keep him at his best.

Mr. Lauer said...

Thanks for the shout-out for Lewis. Julia Hamlin is the person who has really helps us do the work. You guys should come and talk with her...

Thanks again...

Heather Summers said...

Simple tools, simple technology, simple thinking, ..... complex impact. I was just talking with a few colleagues of mine about the South Lawn Graden project that Michelle Obama started. I heard that some people in Central Illinois were up in arms about wasted time and tax dollars being spent on a garden. My first thought was, "Who are these people and what is there problem?" My second thought was, "This is exactly why this project is so important". Raising awareness can be done through simple activity (by doing) when you are in a high profile position. I am proud of the Obama's for continuuing to act in a way that makes them feel responsible and like part of the human race. It is encouraging to have this type of leadership. As a teacher, I feel that the modeling of responsible behavior goes much farther than the words and rules we dole out everyday to students.
Heather Summers - Chicago