Today, The New York Times run an article about Michelle Obama's new project - digging up a kitchen garden to grow food at the South Lawn of the White House. This the second time a vegetable garden has been planted at the White House; the first time was when Eleanor Roosevelt did so in 1943, encouraging people to return to the "victory gardens" that had been popular during the first world war, when this country experienced food shortages. Mrs Roosevelt's garden became hugely popular as an inspiration and some 20m Americans followed her lead, which meant that by the end of the war they grew 40% of the nation's vegetables.
An English Victory garden poster, also from the Second World War. Gardening seems to be serious business, done by two middle aged men, no pretty ladies here...
Mrs Obama herself says in the interview, that besides providing food for the first family’s meals and formal dinners, the organic garden's most important role will be to educate children about healthful, locally grown fruit and vegetables at a time when obesity and diabetes have become a national concern. Of course she won't be digging all by herself, but will have a full time gardener and help from her staff and also from local school classes (excellent initiative!), but she still promises that the first family will be hands-on gardeners weeding and cultivating the land themselves (and I can't wait for the photos of them, together weeding the highly visible plot on the South Lawn). So, while totally in tune with the tough economic times with a her "victory garden", Mrs Obama is in fact fighting a much larger and long-term war, which is one against the thoughtless junk food culture leading to ill health and environmental problems. I guess most of us garden people will make a "V" for Victory - for Michelle's new kitchen garden.