Saturday, March 21, 2009
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