SCARBOROUGH — Avoiding garden metaphors and puns may be the biggest challenge when it comes to Scarborough resident Roger Doiron and his “Eat the View” campaign.
Then again, he’s already used most of them to cultivate the support of those who share his desire to see President-elect Barack Obama and his family plant a vegetable garden on the 18-acre lawn at the White House.
The campaign that began at EatTheView.org last February has blossomed into a national movement with support from health advocates, gardeners, food writers, chefs and environmentalists.
Now, inspired by the First Garden idea, Doiron’s video, “This Lawn Is Your Lawn,” has won third place in the “Climate Matters” video contest and is a finalist in two others sponsored by OnDayOne.org and Change.org. Winning videos in the latter two competitions will be sent to the Obama administration.
But Doiron, who is the director of Kitchen Gardeners International and works to promote local and sustainable foods, said the notion of a White House garden is nothing new. John Adams was the first person to plant a vegetable garden at the White House. In 1943, ignoring objections of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Eleanor Roosevelt was the most recent resident of the mansion to plant a garden there – her victory garden that inspired many Americans to grow their own produce.
“It harks back to simpler times – times where we were able to address challenges by rolling up our sleeves and getting busy,” Doiron said.
He said he hopes to recapture those times and inspire Americans with his idea, which he said would use the “symbolic value of the White House as America’s house and President-elect Obama as eater-in-chief.”
“How they live their lives does matter; they have the power to influence many people and that’s what we’re asking them to do,” he said.
Though Doiron acknowledges there are significant problems the country faces, he said gardening may be a first step to a solution for many of them. By growing a garden, he said, ordinary citizens can help reduce global warming by reducing emissions from trucks that transport vegetables. They can lower health insurance costs because the physical benefits of gardening will make them healthier. And they will save money and improve the economy by growing their own vegetables instead of buying them.
Doiron said he believes at least one of these reasons should resonate with many individuals, convincing them that home gardening is a good idea.
While he doesn’t tell people who have never gardened that it will be easy, he does say “the more you learn, the easier it becomes.”
“I tell people this is good work; you feel good about it, you’re active and you’re doing good things for your family, community and the planet,” he said. “We can find time for the important things in life.”
Though Doiron grew up in a family that gardened, he said he experienced a “gardening epiphany” when he moved to Brussels, Belgium.
In much of Europe, people view gardens differently, he said. While many Americans wonder why anyone would go to the effort of growing vegetables if they can buy them at the store, Europeans tend to “spin that on its head,” Doiron said. There, he said, they ask why anyone would choose to go to a store for vegetables if they could have the freshest ones within reach.
Scarborough resident Roger Doiron last spring launched a campaign to promote a White House vegetable garden. Now, a video he’s made to publicize his idea is a finalist in two on-line contests.