AT THE WHITE HOUSE
America's First Gardener let it be known that her 1,100-square foot veg garden would be organic, much to the chagrin of Big Ag. The Hill first reported on their industry group rather defensively claiming that "Fresh foods grown conventionally are wholesome and flavorful yet more economical." There's that feel-good yet meaningless marketing term – "wholesome". Member companies (think Monsanto, Dow and DuPont) must really be nervous. But how nervous?
In an email to their supporters, that same industry group wrote: "While a garden is a great idea, the thought of it being organic made [us]
shudder." They also sent a letter to the First Lady
asking her to consider using chemicals — or what they call "crop protection
products" — in her garden. That mentality makes me shudder a bit.
AT THE AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT
Next there's the People's Garden on the grounds of the USDA headquarters in D.C., taking the extra step to get officially certified as organic – oh, yeah! In fact, they're getting their compost from the Rodale Institute itself – and Rodale's very, very happy about that. Their farm director Jeff Moyer delivered the compost himself, and here's how that came about (via Treehugger):
"Moyer was instrumental in making the connection with the People's
Garden and negotiating the delivery. Moyer, as chair of the National
Organic Standards Board, learned of the garden and its organic status
in conversation with Barbara Robinson, acting chair of the USDA’s
National Organic Program. He offered the compost, and Rodale received
the OK to deliver it."
That's Barbara shoveling organic compost in the photo. A Bush hold-over, she seems to be totally on board the organic train and boy, we're come a long way since the bad old days when J.I. Rodale couldn't even GIVE money to the USDA to research organic agriculture (so Jeff Moyer tells me).
AT 64 OTHER FEDERAL LANDSCAPES IN DC
Oh, it gets worse (if you're Big Chem, that is). In 2008, to little notice, the government's building management agency switched to 100 percent poultry manure for all its fertilizer needs – on turf as well as flower beds. We're talking 64 sites covering 84 acres. Maybe the move went unnoticed because it didn't threaten conventional food-growing, just synthetic landscape products. Or maybe it was because nobody even knows what the General Services Administration IS.
And you won't be surprised to learn that this move to organics was done by land managers on their own initiative, not under orders from any political appointee. (It's nice to be under the radar.) Here's more about GSA's landscape program.
Next up? According to Janet Kenoyer, GSA's top horticulturist, another organic veg garden will soon be installed in D.C., this one in a courtyard at the EPA. Big Chem's shudders may soon progress to full convulsions.