OLI Garden Initiative Announced!
by Fred Greenwood
Dear Obama Legacy Initiative visitors,
The national conversation about health and well-being, as well as the push towards green space and environmental concerns, convinced the Obama White House to embrace the concept of gardening. For the eight years that President Barack Obama held the office, First Lady Michelle Obama promoted her White House Kitchen Garden, a vegetable garden on the South Lawn that she planted annually with students from across the nation and celebrity guests. The groundbreaking and initial planting was done in 2009. In time, the concept spread to community gardens in schools and public spaces around the country. Publicity surrounding the annual planting, upkeep and harvesting of the White House Kitchen Garden kept this inspiring project in the public eye.
Environmental stewardship paired with health benefits spurred the movement. Honoring the practice of gardening and what was launched through the Obamas’ efforts, The Obama Legacy Initiative seeks to continue those good works in ecological sustainability. Home and community gardeners are now welcome to identify and celebrate their garden as an Obama Legacy Initiative Garden (OLI Garden). Your garden carries on a history of love of the land, and empowerment by contributing, along with those concepts the Obamas endorsed during their tenure in the White House. The legacy of gardening for a good cause is long and fascinating. The White House Kitchen Garden also hearkened back to the victory gardens of the World Wars era. During World Wars I and II, gardens were planted at private homes and on public land in the USA, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia to supplement the war effort. These produce gardens eased pressure on the public food supply and, at the same time, boosted morale on the home front. During World War II, it is estimated that 1/3 of the vegetables produced by the United State came from victory gardens. By May 1943 there were 18 million victory gardens in the country! Eleanor Roosevelt also had a White House Kitchen Garden, the last in place prior to Michelle Obama’s 1100-square-foot plot that has done so much to raise awareness about healthy food and smart nutrition. Your hard work and beautiful results can make history now. Dedicating your garden to the Obama Legacy Initiative will demonstrate your commitment to the lasting lessons of the Obama White House. Marking your garden as an OLI Garden , this extraordinary, historical, consequential period may be honored by your own hands in your own way. Widely circulated World War II posters suggested, “Your Victory Garden Counts More Than Ever.” Same for the newly established OLI Garden program! Please dig in and help a landmark tradition bloom once again.
President, The Obama Legacy Initiative