White House Garden NOT Organic


Fullscreen capture 522010 125926 PM
Not in the official sense.  Sam
Kass, the guy in charge, says they use
only natural, not synthetic, fertilizers and pesticides, but they have no plans to apply the strict organic standards to the garden.  Here's how he recently explained it to the AP.

come out and say (organic) is the one and only way, which is how this
would be interpreted, doesn't make any sense.

is not about getting into all that. This is about kids. They've never
seen what broccoli looks like or where peas come from.
really powerful about this garden is it shows kids where food comes
from.  It's captured attention around the world.

The Baltimore Sun's Susan Reimer asks "Why isn't it organic?" and I think this commenter is onto something.

think because then the emphasis would be on "organic" and not "garden"
and organic gardeners would harass the WH over their organic methods
and we'd all lose sight of the fact that this is about the vegetables. 


  1. I use organic methods when growing food but I also don’t call my crops “organic.” Why? Because it’s not certified organic and I’m not willing to pay for the certification. It’s not like I’m selling produce so it doesn’t make sense to get it certified.

  2. It’s all because they can’t, all the non-organic people would be upset (and those are all the people pouring HUGE amounts of money into Washington).

    Truth is you can’t really say much in this country without causing a huge backlash from the other side. Doesn’t matter which side it is, if they weren’t organic all the organic people would be uspet. If they said they were organic all the non-organic people would be uspet.

    I don’t know why we can’t respect other people’s ideas and views even if they’re different from our own. They’re not wrong, they’ve just come to a different conclusion than we have.

  3. My vegetable garden is NOT organic. I use (shriek)chemical fertilizer. I use about one quarter the recommended amount over the course of a season because I mulch heavily with wood chips fresh from the trimmer’s truck, (shriek) that I allow to decompose and feed and build the soil over time.

    I do not use pesticides chemical or organic. Insect control is manual or avoiding PITA crops.

    I spritzed the edges of the vegetable garden with glyphosate to keep the wildflower meadow that surrounds the whole thing on its side of the boundary. Goldenrod has deep runners and I was not in the mood to yank. The rest of the minimal weeding, remember I use fresh from the trimmer’s truck woodchips as a thick mulch (shriek) is done by hand.

    I do what works for me. The main point is to have plenty of tasty non-poisoned food. The secondary point is to minimize the inputs and potions required to achieve the main point. That same attitude is carried into the ornamental garden where even less to no fertilzer is used. You get woodchip mulch, maybe some extra water on occasion and you live long and prosper or your out of there.

    I want to eat vegetables, enjoy the garden and not make some rigid statement about how things should be.

  4. Our PTA was in disagreement recently over whether to get “organic” soil bags from Miracle Gro or have a local compost facility deliver free dirt that was highly organic, but not certified. It got a little heated. I really wasn’t sure what would be best. It costs a company lots of money to comply with organic certification standards – it doesn’t mean everything non-organic is dangerous. Hard to know unless you are a chemist, tho.

  5. We’ve all faced the consequences of rigidity at one time or another. I would rather see a rational, intelligent farmer or gardener apply only when necessary the most sensible solution to the problem with all the costs considered. “Near” organic is way better than systemically chemical.

  6. I’m not a big fan of the official “organic” designation — it is a fairly arbitrary set of rules which don’t always correlate to the best practices for your garden. I like Jen’s example above — How could organic Miracle Gro shipping in plastic bags from who knows where be better than supporting a local composter who is keeping stuff out of the landfill?

  7. God, I hate to disagree with Christopher C! But Sam Kass, on the other hand, is an ass:

    “To come out and say (organic) is the one and only way, which is how this would be interpreted, doesn’t make any sense.”

    I’m sorry. This is just the same namby-pamby disingenuous political stuff Wal-Mart was saying when they introduced organic products. God forbid anybody offend Scotts or Monsanto here!

    I don’t care if you call the White House garden organic or not. Nobody’s getting certified in a home garden! It doesn’t matter if it’s organic. So, if Sam Kass simply said that the White House garden is chemical-free or sustainable–which it ACTUALLY seems to be– that would be enough for me.

    But to pretend that there is some EQUIVALENCE between MiracleGro and manure, as Kass did…sorry, but that is just cowardly and corrupt. Another reason to dislike politics and to feel that the federal government is entirely in the pockets of big corporations that do not have our best interests at heart.

  8. Speaking as a commercial farmer, our farming techniques are so much softer and more environmentally friendly than they used to be, that’s the way things are moving in farming…but I will never get certified organic even though we use those techniques, because the last thing I need is yet another expensive, time-consuming layer of paperwork, bureaucracy and regulatory hoops to jump through, or another clipboard-toting bureaucrat coming on my farm who has never made a living farming, telling me what to do. I also want to know that I can bring in the big guns, if I have to (and thankfully, I don’t very often), so as not to lose a crop. But in my household garden, I really don’t mind some buggies and their damage here and there.

  9. but Michelle C there is some equivalence between Miraclegro and manure. I garden organic, my dad gardens perhaps 9/10 organic (can you be almost organic? you know what I mean anyway) and my grandfather would spray allsorts of stuff on his veg. We all produce/produced a lot of fresh healthy food that is infinitely better for our respective family’s than store bought processed crap.

  10. sorry – that should’ve been Michelle Owens obviously, not Michelle C (who is a hybrid between Michelle O and Christopher C entirely of my own creation).

  11. Or could it be a result of a complaint last year from a chemical ag lobbying group about the White House garden being free of chemical inputs? I think that might be the REAL reason. Don’t want to offend those big political campaign contributors.
    With the increasing evidence that ag chemicals kill all soil food web microbes, pollute the aquifers, and may cause cancer, how can anybody defend ag chemicals with any of the lame arguments I have just read?
    It is like the drill baby drill people saying accidents happen like the Gulf Oil disaster but we still have to drill baby drill in environmentally sensitive coastal areas. It just doesn’t make any common ecological sense whatsoever.
    It is not your right or privilege to put poisons wherever or whenever you want.

  12. I bought a bottle of liquid colloidal minerals at the healthfood store. The name on the bottle is Scott’s Nutritional Services. Seville, Florida. I need some suggestions on how to use this bottle of liquid colloidal minerals.

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