Message to the Next President: Eat the View!

McCain and Obama, you've spent much of the past two weeks trying to win Joe the
Plumber's support when you could have won many more votes by addressing me:
Roger the Gardener. There are 90 million U.S. households that have a yard and
garden and over 25 million households that grow some of their own food. As a
representative member of this large demographic, I'd like to offer you some
advice on how you can harvest our support by the bushel.

by announcing that, if elected, you will make the White House a model of
sustainability. Nine out of ten households believe that it is important to
maintain their yards in a way that benefits the environment, according to a
recent survey by the National Gardening Association. If we, the people, believe
that this is right for our houses, shouldn't it be the standard set for "America's

need to know that we gardeners are tangible types and are not won over with
vague promises. When you're making your closing arguments this week and talking
about the importance of weaning the US from foreign oil, give us specific
examples of what you'll do differently as "Landscaper-in-Chief." You
could start very close to home by promising to break America's addiction to
fossil fuel derived fertilizers and pesticides such as the ones being used on
the White House lawn.

the White House lawn is free of petrochemicals, it will be clean and healthy
enough to eat from. You can then announce, with great media flair, that this is
exactly what you intend to do. No, I'm not talking about planning the
"First Picnic," but the "First Garden." The White House
grounds span roughly 18 acres and include everything from a jogging track,
swimming pool and tennis court to a putting green. A staff of 13 groundskeepers
and gardeners keep them looking prim and presidential. Surely, we have the
space, labor, and know-how for meeting some of the White House's seasonal
produce needs onsite. And since food and agriculture are responsible for one
third of the greenhouse gas emissions we create, announcing this initiative to
reduce the First Family's "food miles" to "food feet" will
also help you win over other green voters.

seen the polling data on this point and know it's a political winner. Thousands
of Americans have already voted in support of the First Garden on the popular
website where ordinary citizens can make proposals for what you
should do upon taking office in January 2009. Of the thousands of ideas that
have been submitted so far, the proposal to the next president to "eat the
view" by planting a food garden
on the White House lawn
is currently winning in a landslide with twice as
many votes as the second place entry.

know this because I am the ordinary citizen who proposed it back in February.

this idea has proved popular and has since been echoed
by sustainable agriculture luminaries
like Michael Pollan, it's because
it's not just about creating a garden for the president, but a garden for the
people with fresh fruits and vegetables going to supply local food pantries in
the DC area. You can use this part of the proposal to counter your opponent's
charges of edible elitism. How can you be considered elitist when you have a
juicy home-grown tomato dripping down your chin?

naysayers and perhaps even some of your own advisers will respond that it would
be inappropriate to alter a historic landscape in this way, but you will have
public opinion on your side, not to mention history. The White House lawn has
been a sustainable and edible
landscape in the past
, notably at times of national emergency. In 1918, for
example, Woodrow and Edith Wilson did away with gas-powered mowers, replacing
them with a hungry herd of sheep. Later, in 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt
planted a Victory Garden on the White House lawn inspiring millions of citizens
to follow suit. For the really obstinate opponents who say "that was then,
this is now," you can point them to the governors of Maine, New York, and North
Carolina who are already happily eating their view and saving tax-payers money
along the way.

this moment of intersecting financial, fuel, and environmental crises, we the
gardeners of the nation are calling on you not only to do the right thing, but
to chew it too. I know that one garden can't save the economy, feed the world,
or tackle global warming, but this new garden, the First Garden, seems like a
logical place to start.

* * *

This video was made to support the "Eat the View" campaign, a citizen-powered effort to petition ( the next President to show leadership on global issues such as climate change and food security by converting part of the White House's 18 acre grounds back into an edible landscape. It made sense in the past for the "First Family" to eat foods grown close to home and--given the climate challenge--it makes sense again.

This Lawn is Your Lawn - Original Version from roger doiron on Vimeo.

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