A Scarborough-based organization will know next week if the seed it planted to entice President-elect Barack Obama’s administration to choose its idea of growing a garden on the White House lawn will bloom.

Roger Doiron, founding director of Kitchen Gardeners International – a Scarborough-based nonprofit organization linking 10,000 gardeners worldwide – will learn if the Obama administration accepts his organization’s campaign to plant an organic vegetable garden on the White House Lawn.

The group has forged a one-year campaign called Eat the View, pitching the garden through a White House initiative that allowed citizens to recommend agendas to Obama tackling issues such as global warming, the weakening economy and the fight against terrorism.

While the idea of planting a garden might seem less necessary as a tool to solve problems facing the country, Doiron said, it is important for the fight against global warming.

“Some people plant gardens and don’t think about the bigger picture involved,” Doiron said. “In reality, about one-third of our greenhouse emissions result from food and agriculture because on average, our food travels 1,500 miles before it hits our plate. I have a garden and my food only travels about 50 feet before it hits my plate.”

The garden idea is one of nine finalists out of nearly 4,000 topics that people pitched through the Web site ondayone.org, which allowed citizens to advise Obama on how to deal with issues he will face when his presidency begins. The winning idea will be presented to Obama, who will decide whether to use it.

Other ideas competing include a commitment for global nuclear disarmament, fight for human rights, and fighting the roots of terrorism.

As of Tuesday, Eat the View led the vote count with 239. Fighting the roots of terrorism was a distant second with 105 votes.

“I think this is something that will happen,” said Russell Libby, executive director of Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. “Anything we do to grow food close to home has an impact on reducing our carbon foot print.”

If accepted, the White House garden would be used to supply the White House kitchen with its vegetables and for donations to Washington, D.C., food pantries.

Gardens such as the one being proposed by Kitchen Gardeners International, also known as victory gardens, are nothing new to the White House, Doiron said.

President John Adams planted the first garden on the White House lawn in 1800. In 1918, President Woodrow Wilson also had victory garden. In 1943, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt planted a vegetable garden on the White House Lawn despite objections from the United States Department of Agriculture.

“We did this before because it made sense,” Doiron said. “It’s an example of bold leadership, and I think our campaign is really appealing to the Obamas.”

Both Doiron and Libby said the garden itself would have a negligible impact on the environment, but it could inspire people to plant their own vegetable gardens.

“We want people to see that they can do this too,” Libby said.

Doiron spent about $100 this year seeding his family’s vegetable garden. After six months, they are still eating food the garden produced, he said.

“We still have onions, garlic and frozen tomatoes,” he said. “It’s work that makes you feel good.”

Eat the View does not specify where on the 18-acre property the garden should be built, and doesn’t specify a size, Doiron said.

The Blaine House in Augusta has a victory garden, as do the capitals of New York and North Carolina. Doiron said.

“Some people hear this idea and they say it sounds crazy,” Doiron said. “Then I tell them that these states have victory gardens and that this, too, can be done at the federal level.”

This spoof on the American Gothic painting is part of Scarborough resident Roger Doiron’s campaign to convince President-elect Obama have an organic garden planted at the White House.Scarborough resident Roger Doiron calls this illustration of President-elect Barack Obama “Gardener in Chief.” It’s part of the campaign by Kitchen Gardeners International to convince Obama to have an organic garden planted at the White House.Roger Doiron is the founding director of Kitchen Gardeners International, a Scarborough-based nonprofit organization linking 10,000 gardeners worldwide.Sheep graze on the White House lawn in 1918.


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