On March 20, 2009, Michelle Obama and a group of students from a Washington D.C. elementary school took the shovel to the soil on the South Lawn of the White House for the inauguration of the much-anticipated organic vegetable garden.
The White House Kitchen Garden is the first White House garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden during World War II. The garden will provide 55 varieties of organic vegetables including spinach and hot peppers to the White House and a local soup kitchen.
The White House Kitchen Garden embodies a greater enthusiasm of the American people for local, organic, and safe food.
“I think this development is both a reflection of a growing enthusiasm for local, organic food within the U.S. as well as a potential catalyst for a real paradigm shift in the way the American public relates to food,” Julia Li of the Stanton Street CSA said.
In the heart of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, gardeners rake, till, and water in preparation for the vibrant green shrubs and pink satin tulips of the spring season on the seven block long stretch of the M’Finda Kalunga Community Garden.
This coveted green-space is the distribution site of the Stanton Street CSA.
Rather than purchase produce from corporate grocery store chains, CSA members convene at the distribution sites for a weekly share of produce from a local farm.
The National Gardening Association predicts a 20 percent rise in the number of home gardens from 2008 to 2009, which parallels a similar increase in CSA membership.
The NGA compared the rise of home gardens today to the victory garden campaign in 1944 titled “Plant More in ’44.”
Instead of patriotism and food shortages, the NGA cited the economic downturn and increased awareness of food safety as the reason behind the 2009 rise in vegetable gardening.
Because backyard gardens are not a viable option for most New York City residents, organizers said they are turning to cooperatives like the Stanton Street and Grand Street CSAs.
“I think this has a lot to do with an increase in our society’s dawning awareness of not only the personal benefits of eating locally grown vegetables but also the greater ethical and ecological importance of supporting the sustainably run family farms,” Li said of the Stanton Street CSA’s growing membership.
Although it is cheaper to purchase produce from CSAs, Li cites a more conscientious rationale, “We’re in the midst of an economic meltdown, but my understanding is that the main goal is to engage families across the country in a dialogue about health, diet and the environment than to demonstrate how cheaply vegetables can be grown.”
The seasonal price for a vegetable share is $460 for 22 weeks and will support up to four people, depending on their eating habits.
The CSA sources its veggies from the Windflower Farm in upstate New York. The organization also offers fruit, egg, and flower shares.
At the end of each weekly distribution, the Stanton Street CSA donates any leftover produce to the Bowery Mission, a local organization that provides outreach to people caught in a crisis of poverty, homelessness, or substance dependency.


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