Eat the White House lawn

If you had 18 acres and a team of 13 gardeners and groundskeepers at your beck and call, what would you do? Led by founding director Roger Doiron, Kitchen Gardeners International is asking president-elect Barack Obama and his family to “eat the view.” More specifically, the group suggests the Obamas take a portion of the White House lawn and turn it into an organic garden that can provide food for the First Family, as well supply local food pantries with sustainable, fresh produce. The group has been circulating a “White House Food Garden Petition” at since early 2008. The campaign is leading the proposals under the “Climate & Energy” category at, a site where users can post suggestions and vote for their favorite ideas about what Obama can do during the first days of his administration to, as the site says, “address the world’s most pressing challenges.”

Presidential edible landscapes are nothing new—Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt all planted food on the White House lawn during their stays there. The Wilsons even grazed sheep there. But as food became more convenient to buy elsewhere, gardens at the White House have become more ornamental.

Doiron has spoken of “the symbolic power of the White House as the people’s house,” and believes that as Americans see the Obama’s edible garden, they will be inspired to plant their own.