What about …



Let the plumber dude have his 15 minutes; at least it made for a lot of fun around the office yesterday, somewhat alleviating yet another painfully tedious debate. But all the Joes aside (not forgetting Joe Black, Joe Cool, Joe Sixpack, and Bazooka Joe), are there things we gardeners should expect in a president? Michael Pollan thinks so.

In a wonderful essay in last Sunday’s NYTimes, one I am sure many of you have read, Pollan talks about food production and vegetable gardening, echoing the sentiment Michele voiced in her action day post—that fresh food from the earth is like tasting sunshine—but also describing how we’ve really managed to screw this experience up, big time, in the process endangering much more than the food supply. We’ve heard this from Pollan before, but he’s absolutely right that it hasn’t been discussed much during any portion of the campaign. Pollan asks the “Farmer in Chief” to implement an agenda of ecological farming, regional food production, and education about healthy eating, and has compelling and detailed ideas about how to do it.

I’ll be honest; I’m no political junkie. I hate pretty much everything about campaigns, and have guiltily ignored as much as I can of this one. But I do like a government that does something useful with my tax dollars, and Pollan’s ideas sound right to me. In the hopes that there’d be a trickle-down (the kind that works), maybe action by Washington would inspire local governments to start compost programs (my city has none), use more native plantings in parks and less shaved lawns, and do more to get the wonderful produce of our local farmers into school lunches and grocery shelves. Just to name a few things. Instead of limiting their focus to citing homeowners for “high weeds.”

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regular radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world, and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. Elizabeth thanks for highlighting Michael Pollan’s open letter to the candidates. Some of the NY Times commenters suggested that Pollan would be a good choice for Secretary of Agriculture. I agree. What a breath of fresh air: he has so many solid, yet workable ideas.

  2. Pollan has some good ideas, at least in theory. I’m a gardener and a farmer. I know the large amount of ingredients I need to make my own compost for my gardens. Multiple that by the 2100 acres we farm. Where is it all going to come from? That is one reason organic farms, local vegetable farms, etc. are small. The time and inputs it takes to manage manure and compost.
    Also, his idea of running cattle on the land for 3 years and then growing crops for 2 or 3 isn’t entirely thought out. Cows don’t only eat, they drink water and lots of it. Many places don’t have the water to support them. One reason there is so little pasture land is because most fields don’t have streams running through them. Even if you had a well that would support livestock, the water would have to be hauled to them.
    The sustainable things I do in my yard just don’t transfer to large scale farming.

  3. Thinking of small residential gardens and remembering the many walled vegetable/fruit gardens of Europe I’ve visited.

    Many of their caretakers mentioning all the reasons the gardens were walled and locked thru the centuries.

    Keeping wildlife out, moderating temperatures and keeping starving people out.

    Sir Walter Scott’s walled garden was double walled with boilers in the corners to distribute warmth and extend the growing seasons.

    Remembering my last large vegetable garden and someone stealing the produce.

  4. I thought the Pollan article was very good reading, not least because the focus of his article is that food production needs to change from being based on fossil fuels to being based on natural ‘sun power’.

    The secondary considerations of more local production rises out of this. It will take a mega-shift in ideas and practices to achieve this but I believe that Pollan’s ideas are very important.

  5. George Bush shielded us from the enemy so we have a choice in how we want to live. Louis Bromfield in the 40’s had farming figured out. Malabar Farm is a good reading.

  6. For a candidate to pull out the tip of the iceberg that is our food security would certainly peak my interest, but to deliver a cohesive and definitive plan on an issue that has not been directly addressed in the race for presidency as far as memory serves would prove to be a monstrous undertaking. Though, no doubt political extremists in the wings have already tapped into the potential for fear-mongering through this issue. Offering up shaky promises regarding taxes at this time is one thing, but agriculture deserves far more thought, more planning, and more action than could ever be undertaken during an election campaign.

  7. I read this the other day and wrote a letter in response. Pollan’s recommendations are forward-thinking and completely reasonable. I really love his notion that the First Family should plant the White House lawn with organic vegetables!

  8. Hello! Recently has read in news that re-testing
    of Large Hadron Collider will be conducted 🙁
    Me it is terrible 🙁

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