May 12, 2009

A Garden Grows at the White House

A Garden Grows at the White House [Main Story]

capOn March 20, 2009, Washington, D.C., experienced one grand event. There was little ceremony and not a single marching band. A small group of school children joined the president’s wife, Michelle Obama, in tilling 
an 1,100-square-foot plot of ground on the south lawn of the 
White House near E Street to plant a garden—a vegetable garden. Lettuce, berries, herbs, peppers, spinach, collards, some 55 different varieties 
were planted. Even a beehive was installed. It will be exciting to see the first family harvesting fresh organic vegetables.

This new garden is full of symbolism, message, and hope. Food can be grown locally; it does not have to be shipped across vast spaces in plastic “clam shells.” Fresh food has more robust flavors, encouraging less desire for processed foods from boxes.

Michelle Obama used the start of the White House garden as an opportunity to press the message of more healthful diets for American children: “A real delicious heirloom tomato is one of the sweetest things that you’ll ever eat, and my children know the difference, and that’s how I’ve been able to get them to try different things.” For children, food is about taste and fresh is best.

This is a good example for us. How many of our churches have a spot that could grow a few tomatoes or beets 
to share with needy members or the community? What change might come when we announce that the 
lettuce in today’s potluck salad came from the church garden? Might a church garden help build the community? What lessons can our children learn?

  —Ken Flemmer