Friday, April 10, 2009

Going to Seed With Michelle Obama

The gardening industry is growing as Americans across the country follow the First Lady's example of raising vegetables, fruit and herbs.

At yesterday's White House planting, Mrs. Obama told her fifth-grade helpers of international interest in their efforts on her trip abroad.

“Every single person from Prince Charles on down was excited because we are planting a garden,” she said as they dug in seeds and seedlings for spinach, chard, collards, kale, shallots, peas, broccoli, fennel, rhubarb, onions and half a dozen kinds of lettuce. Some of them reportedly came from the Monticello gardens of Thomas Jefferson, who would pass out seeds to White House visitors.

If this keeps up, Michelle Obama's passion for edible plants may become her hallmark in the same way that Lady Bird Johnson will always be remembered for spreading wildflowers across the national landscape.

Her efforts not only encourage good nutrition and thrift in hard economic times but spur the movement for grassless lawns that is encouraging Americans to stop wasting water, spraying an ingredient of Agent Orange and burning up fuel with power mowers to make their yards look like golf courses.

As a city-reared kid like Mrs. Obama, I can testify to the pleasures of bringing in your own food for dinner, up to and including the thrill of picking the last brussels sprouts from New England stalks on Thanksgiving day.

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