By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers
With a veggie harvesting fashion that leans toward carnation-pink hip-huggers, designer sneakers, and perfect nails, Michelle Obama isn't going to win the dirt farmer of the year award. But if the first lady and her White House kitchen continue to embrace the sustainable farming craze sweeping the nation, perhaps the Future Farmers of America ought to adopt her as its organic and healthful eating spokeswoman. Not only is she cheerleading chemical-free farming with her South Lawn veggie plot; we also hear that the White House is showing it means business by building three kitchen-waste compost piles for next year's planting.
It may sound like a small thing, but her efforts are already boosting the sustainable and organic farming business. Jim Crawford, a Pennsylvania organic farmer who supplies D.C. foodie faves like Restaurant Nora, gives the White House and garden master and chef Sam Kass credit for their successful effort. He should know. Crawford, whose New Morning Farm goods are on sale at two District farmers' markets, advises Kass on the first lady's garden.
In fact, says Crawford, the White House garden in just a few short months has outshone some of his 40 acres of berries, herbs, and vegetables. Why? The soil. "The ground really seems to be nice and balanced," Crawford says. After it was tested, natural ingredients like crab meal were added to adjust the pH, sulphur, and potassium levels. Then a secret ingredient from an organic fan arrived: compost from New York celebrity chef Dan Barber.
Looking at the first harvest of lettuce and peas from the garden, Crawford declares, "I give it an A plus."
Illustration by Ed Wexler for USN&WR
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