March 19, 2009
Michelle Obama is pulling on her Wellies tomorrow to break soil on the White House vegetable garden. Thank you Mrs. Obama for putting nutritious, fresh, local food in the national spotlight! (And thank you to the Obama’s former personal chef, Sam Kass, now on the White House kitchen staff and an advocate for local and sustainable food).
Now I just need some land to till…and until that happens, I’ll begin with some box planters on the stoop…thinking herbs, tomatoes and strawberries. Here’s a sampling of what will be sprouting in Washington: cilantro, tomatillos, hot peppers; red romaine, green oak leaf, butterhead, red leaf and galactic lettuces; spinach, chard, collards and black kale; berries; herbs including anise hyssop and Thai basil; two beehives for honey.
Before you start planting your garden (or stoop or window box), consider buying seeds from a certified organic seed provider such as Seeds of Change (www.seedsofchange.com). By planting heirloom varieties of fruits and vegetables (or purchasing from a farmers market or CSA) you are doing your part to help preserve agricultural diversity. A few stats to consider:
- Almost 96% of the commercial vegetable varieties available in 1903 are now extinct.
- Twelve plant crops account for more than 3/4 of the food consumed in the world, and just three–rice, wheat and maize–are relied on for more than half of the world’s food.
- As crop varieties decrease (reducing the genetic diversity of these plant species), existing crops become increasingly susceptible to devastation by disease and pests.
Now go get your hands dirty.