With concerns about rising food prices and food safety has come a renewed interest in an old concept: victory gardens. People around the country are turning to this old-fashioned approach to food production with a new twist. Instead of using chemical-based fertilizers and pesticides to spur growth, they are using organic practices to cultivate healthy, productive plants.
The White House Organic Farm Project has jumped on this organic garden bandwagon. More commonly known as The WHO Farm, the project was developed by two college graduates, Daniel Bowman Simon and Casey Gustowarow, who launched a petition-based campaign on August 29, 2008, requesting that the forty-fourth President of the United States oversee the planting of an organic farm on the White House grounds. As Simon explains it, “We need leaders who lead by good example. We believe that our next president can and ought to be a leading spokesperson for healthy, homegrown food, and that he is more likely to become a strong proponent of organic initiatives if he himself is living on an organic farm.”
The campaign has since expanded in both size and notoriety, as its founders have driven across the country in a double-decker bus boasting an organic garden on its rooftop. Visiting schools, participating in such “green” events as Slow Food Nation, and encouraging people to sign their petition along the way, Simon and Gustowarow are working hard to get their message out. Already, they have amassed 9,000 signatures and have received much positive feedback on their efforts to bring organic to the White House. As Simon notes, “People love the idea, particularly if they are old enough to remember the victory gardens of World War II. They are genuinely excited about a renaissance in the way things are being done.”
The WHO Farm Project was initially slated to last through President Obama’s inauguration. However, the project’s co-founder makes clear that this timetable will be extended until the project is complete. “We will keep the petition open and won’t stop talking about our ideas until they happen,” says Simon.