UC Davis graduate student Margaret Lloyd could soon be President Barack Obama’s personal White House farmer.
Environmental activists are urging President Obama to transform 5 acres of the White House lawn into an organic farm to grow produce for the first family and local food banks.
The group is selecting the “First Farmer” through online voting at whitehousefarmer.com from 100 nominees. Voting ends Saturday Jan. 31 at midnight.
The top three vote-earners will be submitted to the White House staff. Lloyd, a second-year international agricultural development graduate student, is in fourth place as of press time with approximately 1,300 votes, trailing the third place nominee by 800.
“There have been no claims by the president that they will do this but there has been a groundswell of effort by the American people,” Lloyd said. “By putting together this package of concepts and people they can lobby more strongly.”
Lloyd said she is excited about the prospect of tearing up the White House lawn to grow food for the Obama family.
“It would send a clear message to the country and the world that Obama’s promise of change includes one of the most fundamental things that all Americans share, which is our food,” Lloyd said. “By growing food at home, you’re growing healthier and tastier food that will save you money and is more accessible.“
The idea for a White House farm came from Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma.
“As Michael Pollan points out, at the heart of some of our biggest challenges comes down to the way that we grow our food, so we need to continue to be innovative to discover new ways to solve this challenge,” Lloyd said.
Last year Lloyd spearheaded an effort to create the Salad Bowl, a student-run 600 square-foot organic farm plot in front of the Plant and Environmental Sciences building.
“It’s biointensive,“ Lloyd told Dateline UC Davis in May 2008. “We’re experimenting with techniques appropriate for small plots in unique growing niches around human habitation to achieve high yields and delicious produce, while contributing to the surrounding aesthetic.“
Lloyd, who graduated from Tufts University in 2002, also started a company based in San Francisco called Home Farming that hosts workshops on how to create a sustainable backyard farm.
“My experience comes from specifically working with small scale subsistence farming, my mission is to uncover the ways in which people can grow food on land surrounding their food,” she said.
Lloyd’s friends and colleagues at UC Davis are encouraging everyone to vote.
“I think [if she won] it would be good for UC Davis, good for Margaret and good for the international agricultural development group,” said Donna Maricich, the graduate program coordinator for the international agricultural development group.
ALYSOUN BONDE can be reached at email@example.com. XXX