The Daily Green's senior editor Dan Shapley asked Roger Doiron, a 2009 Heart of Green Award winner, and founder of Kitchen Gardeners International (newly redesigned - check it out!) 13 questions about gardening for beginners and gardening for politicians. Doiron and Kitchen Gardeners International were a big part of the movement that convinced Michelle Obama to plant that organic garden at the White House. It was Kitchen Gardeners International that launched the Facebook petition drive you probably remember joining. So he knows a thing or two about not only gardening, but also politics and inspiration.
Here's what he had to say:
It's very difficult to measure impacts. We know that we reached millions of people with our White House garden campaign and news of the garden itself has of course reached even more, but it;'s hard to know how this is translating into more people gardening. We have some anecdotal indicators like seed sales and demand for community garden plots which are up considerably, but there's no authoritative data. According to a new survey by the National Gardening Association, 1 million new food gardens are planned for 2010. If you compare this with the 20 million new gardens that were planted in 1943 at the peak of the Victory Garden movement (when US population was half what it is now), it suggests that we are still very at the beginning stages of the kitchen garden revolution.
Here in Maine there are some innovative efforts under way to bring farmers and fisherman to talk about how community-based food systems can help sustain people while preserving natural resources and Maine's traditional industries. We're starting to see the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model applied to fishing which is quite exciting. I'd be remiss as KGI's director if I didn't mention some of the new innovative things we're doing. We've just launched our new gardener-powered website where people are doing all kinds of fun things like starting their own blogs, participating in discussions, setting up local groups, and sharing everything from garden tips to favorite recipes. It's built with the open-source platform Drupal and represents an important step for us in becoming a sort of "open source" organization.
See how to eat healthy by joining a CSA.
My board and I joke that as the only worthwhile follow-up act to helping give a kitchen garden to the Obamas is to give the rest of the world one too. We're going to continue focusing on gardens and local foods in the U.S. through educational activities and campaigns like Food Independence Day (our campaign to have America's governors and families source their July 4th meals from local and sustainable sources), but we're also putting more resources into our work and partnerships abroad. In fact, I'm planning on taking KGI on the road next year with my family. We're going to be doing a "family academic year abroad" with Belgium as our home base. I'll use the year to make some connections with gardens, gardeners, and garden groups in Europe ...a Tour de Plants you might call it.
See 15 more of Roger Doiron's tips for eating more local food.
No matter who you are or where you live, commit to growing at least one food item this year from seed to salad bowl or soup bowl. Even it's just a single basil or parsley plant grown in a window box, you'll have a chance to touch the soil with your own hands and watch the miracle of life play out on a small-scale right before your eyes. Even if you fail at growing one ingredient for one meal, you won't have really failed in that you'll have gained some new admiration for farmers and respect for the challenges they face. So, dig in!
What are the biggest successes of the White House garden Michelle Obama planted?
Have there any disappointments in the White House garden project?
What's next after the White House? The Vatican? Goldman Sachs?
Is the kitchen garden trend taking hold?
What about the grow-your-own food movement do you find most exciting?
What's Kitchen Gardener International's next big project?
What one Earth Day tip would you want everyone to do?
Photo of Roger Doiron at the 2009 Heart of Green Awards: Doug Goodman
Enter your city or zip code to get your local temperature and air quality and find local green food and recycling resources near you.