Isn’t it inspiring to see Michelle Obama and a class of fifth graders digging up the White House lawn, planting the first garden there since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden in 1943? It’s clear that nutrition is going to be a priority for our First Lady, and her interest in it is personal; a few years ago, a pediatrician suggested that her children were putting on weight due to too much take-out food and not enough veggies. Michelle put a new focus on feeding her family a healthy diet, and the kids responded.
That same maternal motivation prompted local resident Makeba Morris to start digging in the dirt, and write an email to Grid about it:
“As a new mom living in Center City, it became obvious rather quickly that if I wanted to give my child healthful, organic produce, I’d have to either get a second job or grow my own! For the minimal cost of some organic seeds and soil (from Home Depot), a few free five-gallon containers, and water (good ol’ Schuylkill swill), I was knee-deep in tomatoes, peppers, mint, Thai basil and strawberries ’til the fall. I had to commit to the up-front work of setting up the container garden, watering it every day, and I eventually reaped a darn good harvest for a novice gardener.”
It’s time for us—and by “us” I mean well-intentioned, would-be gardeners like myself—to take the plunge and follow the excellent examples of both Michelle Obama and Makeba Morris.
To that end, Phil Forsyth has provided us with a very easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide to planting in an egg carton. Phil knows a thing or two about gardening, having spent four years developing an urban farm in Brooklyn, and now acting as the Orchard Director at the Philadelphia Orchard Project, which Natalie Hope McDonald documents on page 22.
The Orchard Project’s motivation is food justice: to provide healthy food for communities that typically don’t have good access to it. Our cover story on Skip Wiener’s guerrilla gardening techniques shows how well-tended land can make a community safer.
So, let’s see: Growing our own food makes our children healthier, our neighbors healthier and our communities safer? Somebody get me an egg carton!
Alex J. Mulcahy