Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Obama victory garden not growing on me...

While Maureen Dowd is singing Michelle Obama's praises for getting fifth graders to help her as well as other White House Staffers and the president to supposedly be expected to pull weeds in the modern version of a "Victory Garden" I had to point out the hype and the reality.

Using mainly volunteer labor this public relations stunt is stated to have cost only $200.00, (which I find hard to believe since they had plants as well as seeds) let's look at that for a moment. Where is the average family who is already struggling to pay for what they have going to come up with the additional costs and the additional time to tend a garden in their own yards? The concept of Community Gardens which some areas have that help subsidize the costs would have been a better option to promote. It would have been a better option to suggest funding for...and it would help eliminate the frustration of those who are new time gardeners who won't have access to help and experts:
Cultivators with years of experience worry that home gardeners lured by promises of big savings will burn out when they see the amount of labor required to get dollars from their dirt. The average gardener spends nearly five hours a week grubbing in the dirt and often contends with failure early on, said Bruce Butterfield, a spokesman for The National Gardening Association.

"The one thing you don't factor into it is the cost of your time and your labor," he said.

Community Gardens did get a small mention as Michelle also said for people to not feel guilty if they didn't garden:
For urban dwellers who have no backyards, the country’s one million community gardens can also play an important role, Mrs. Obama said.

I won't feel guilty about not having a backyard garden, if I were to come across an extra $200 to spend on one? I probably still wouldn't because I support local farmers who sell their local produce at our farmer's market, where the prices of their produce is not overly expensive and it helps our local economy...Farmers need to eat too and a locally grown heirloom tomato purchased fresh from the Farmers Market tastes pretty darn near one that you've grown in your backyard, if you've managed to protect them from the critters...Though visions of the Secret Service being sent out to protect the Obamas' arugula from pesky rabbits could be funny.

However as a person who did have gardens years ago and dreamed of having one last year, until the cats killed the seeds that were growing inside. confirmed my earlier realization that the farmer's market was a much wiser choice considering the cost of the garden and the time necessary to maintain it? I hope Michelle buys a good pair of working gloves, blisters hurt...


Lawrence Moore said...

...and yet, in WWII Victory Gardens were quite effective at reducing homeland demand on our crops, leaving more for export to our troops. In many ways, that effort was no small factor in our eventual victory.

Which then begs the question: Have we grown that soft, useless, dependent and ineffectual as a culture? Probably so.

Yes, the Victory Garden idea is stupid. Most people born after 1970 don't even know how to keep a houseplant alive (never mind a garden) nor do they have the willpower or inclination to put forth that kind of effort. It made a great photo op, and I'm pretty sure that's what it was intended to do, and nothing more.

My family were farmers, so I know what it takes to grow your own food. It's work. Hard work. That said, I think the fundamental concept of educating our citizenry on the basic concepts of self-reliance is sound, and even necessary. The Victory Garden concept can be a good catalyst for that. While most of our younger citizens wouldn't know a spade from a teaspoon, perhaps they can still be taught the fine art of fixing their own leaky pipes, and so on.

Of course, that spells doom for Joe the Plumber, but oh well. ;)

Lisa Renee said...

I'm a fan of our children growing up to be somewhat self sufficient, mine had to demonstrate they could change a tire before they could get their temps, as well as know the basics as to car maintenance. I didn't go quite as far as my father did, he required a demonstration of an oil change and a tune up.


I used to love to garden, I still plant flowers but a vegetable garden is hard work, and I'm realistic enough to know I don't have the time to do it and with our local farmers market downtown? It's pretty easy to get some great locally grown produce within my budget.

I am however an advocate of community gardens, they give people the opportunity to not only dabble in gardening but it develops a great community bonding experience as well as the produce benefit.

Lisa Renee said...

Burpee is taking advantage of the marketing, promising people a huge return from ten dollars worth of seeds.


Lawrence Moore said...

Ah yes, Burpee... the puppeteers behind the whole evil conspiracy. Why didn't I see it earlier? ;)

Robin said...

I tried putting a garden in my back yard when we first bought our house, oh so many years ago... One night we went to bed with plants in the back, by morning it was all just dirt. Never did figure out what ate everything.

Rowsey said...

This is one of my favorite posts in a long time. I just can't believe you aren't jumping on the victory garden bandwagon. What hyperbole.

DSTRONG said...

I think you are missing some big points. It is a huge symbolic gesture--to replace White House lawn with garden space. It's irrelevant to suggest Michelle Obama either join or start a community garden and it's unfortunate that you discount her acknowledgment of community gardens as an important resource.

Meanwhile you are also ignoring the fact that a single tomato plant or single container of cilantro could save several to tens of dollars a month, at least in the summer for a family. That said, if people are struggling to get by, a few dollars a month can be a relief. Also, desperate people are more likely to buy cans of green beans instead of travelling out of their way to farmers' markets to pay premiums for local grown stuff.

Of course people will have priorities and many people don't like spending time outdoors, let alone doing work in a garden doing maintenance. But I'd rather do some work at home and sow some seeds and reap a modest harvest than spend money I earned at a job away from my family for the same thing.

I think it's a poor excuse to say that by doing something for yourself you are depriving someone else of a living. It's like defending littering because someone gets paid to pick it up.