Maine Gardener Appeals to the
Next ‘Eater-in-Chief’

Roger Doiron, an organic gardener from Scarborough, Maine may have less
than a third of an acre to work with in his own yard, but it hasn’t stopped him
from thinking big.  

Over the course of the past year, he has been eyeing a larger piece of land for a
new garden project: the 18 acres surrounding the White House.

In February of 2008, Doiron launched a campaign called "Eat the View"
(
EatTheView.org) to urge the next president to replant a Victory Garden on the
White House Lawn.  More than just a quaint vegetable patch for the Obamas,
this new garden, as Doiron envisages it, would be big enough to meet the White
House kitchen’s seasonal produce needs with surplus going to local food
pantries.

Seed of an Idea Sprouts to a Movement

What began as a seed of an idea has sprouted into a thriving movement
attracting over 20,000 supporters from across the country and media coverage in
national outlets like the Washington Post, New York Times, and National
Public Radio.  A number of nationally-known chefs, health advocates, farmers,
gardeners, food writers, and environmentalists have lined up behind the cause.

Doiron’s proposal is not only winning hearts, minds and media coverage, but
also national contests.  In October, his home-grown video called "This Lawn is
Your Lawn" which shows him planting a new garden in front of his ‘white
house’ (he lives in a small white cape) and challenging the next president to do
the same won third prize in the "Climate Matters" video contest.  The prize was
to have his video shown on national TV to an audience of 50 million
households.

Prize-Winning Idea

More recently, the idea won first
prize in the
OnDayOne.org
contest.  The contest, a project
of the Better World Campaign,
brought together over 5000 ideas
for what the next president
should do ‘on day one’ to help
tackle global problems.

Doiron’s proposal that
President Obama
announce plans for a new
White House Victory Garden won with 3994 votes.

While it is unclear whether Mr. Obama will commit to this initiative, Doiron
and his supporters are optimistic about their chances, emphasizing the
proposal’s simple, symbolic and fiscally-responsible nature.  It requires no new
spending, but rather redirects existing natural and human resources towards a
more productive and socially-responsible end.  The sun and soil are already
there, Doiron points out, as is the White House’s 13-person grounds crew who
could help plant and maintain this new garden.

Organic Gardening -- Social Change?

Doiron also sees a lot of potential political and public relations gains for
Obamas in adopting it.  "President-elect Obama ran on a platform of social
change and of reaching across the political aisle and national borders to tackle
big problems together,"  he says. "Organic gardens do just that. They’re not
conservative or liberal, white or black, male or female, gay or straight. They cut
across all lines and offer a hands-on, low-cost way of making progress on global
warming, food security, health care and energy independence."

To some, Maine may seem like an unlikely place for the germination of such
an initiative, but Doiron thinks otherwise.  

"Mainers might be short on frost-free days," he says, "(but) we’re long on the
type of hope and patience that gardening requires. Despite our size and chilly
climate, we’re home to several nationally-known garden writers, seed
companies, and MOFGA, the largest and oldest state organic farming and
gardening organization in the country. We’ve even got our First Lady, Karen
Baldacci, showing the way by feeding her family from a backyard garden at the
governor’s residence. If it can happen at the state level, surely it can happen
nationally."
Obama as Gardener-in-Chief












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Gardener-in-Chief Obama
Sheep grazing on the White House lawn, 1918