MARCH 13, 2009: Nearly 85,000 people have signed an online petition calling for part of the White House lawn to be turned into a vegetable patch.
“The idea is for the Obama family to plant an organic vegetable garden on part of the White House lawn, with the cultivated veggies going to the White House kitchen and any overflow going to feed those in need,” Roger Doiron, the man behind the petition, said. If the Obamas were to plant a garden on the White House grounds, it would have the “inspirational potential” to spawn millions of similar gardens, not only in the United States but around the world, Mr Doiron predicted. Backing for the idea has come from as far away as Kenya, where farmers asked if they could sign the petition and make a financial contribution to the cause. The town of Kingston in New York state has been inspired by Mr Doiron’s plan to put in a vegetable garden in front of their town hall. There may be some backing for the plan from inside the White House. “We are in touch with policy staffers from Michelle Obama’s office, and while they are not committing to anything, they are asking very good questions and are aware of the popular support the idea has,” said Mr Doiron. “They seem to be considering it.” Mr Doiron, an organic gardening advocate who last year harvested fresh vegetables worth $2,000 from his own patch in his suburban garden in Maine, said precedent exists for the plan. The White House last had an “edible landscape” in 1943, when first lady Eleanor Roosevelt planted a Victory Garden. “It was a time of war, it was at a time of economic crisis, and it was at a time when Americans were looking to the White House for leadership,” he said of the Roosevelt allotment.