Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Lettuce on the White House lawn

By Ellen Goodman
Published: July 4, 2008

SCARBOROUGH, Maine: It has been decades since that famous forager Euell Gibbons reached through the White House fence and picked four edible weeds out of the president's garden. This is not something that the Secret Service would recommend you try today.
But Roger Doiron has a better plan for eating the view of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He's started a campaign to get a kitchen garden growing on the White House lawn.
Doiron works out of his small Cape house in Maine, where I find him one summer day. A wasp-thin 41-year-old, he's part of the fastest-growing (I used the words literally) movement in the country. His organization, Kitchen Gardeners International, is one link in a loose chain of partisans who are neither conservatives nor liberals but locavores. They want to think global, eat local. Very local. As in their front and backyard.
He shows me the lawn sign that expresses his politics: "1,500 Miles, 400 Gallons, Say What?" It's a reference to the average miles food travels to your plate and the gallons of fuel used in its migration. It's not the sexiest slogan, but kitchen gardeners are probably as passionate about vegetables as Republicans are about tax cuts.
Doiron spent a decade with a grass-roots environmental group in Europe. After returning to his hometown in 2001, he became a lettuce-roots environmentalist. As head of Kitchen Gardeners International, he also walks the walk, showing me 50 varieties of vegetables he grows for his family of five on about a sixth of an acre. Memo to other amateurs: You will be pleased to know that Doiron's garden also has weeds.


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