THE BLOG
04/25/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Obamas Get Their Hands Dirty

Our farm, Beekman 1802, is located in Sharon Springs, NY, in the very heart of what was known as "the breadbasket of the American Revolution."

The vegetable gardens are planted with heirloom varieties that would have been available at the time that the farm was first built in 1802.

Our seeds are purchased from the D. Landreth Seed Company. It is the oldest seed company in America and the fourth oldest corporation of any genre. So important was it in the fabric of early American life that at one point Landreth mailed a copy of their seed catalog to every single household in the United States.

This year, Landreth celebrates its 225th Anniversary. When we heard that Landreth had supplied seeds to every U.S. president from George Washington through Franklin Delano Roosevelt, we knew that this tradition had to somehow be continued and that our country had to, literally, find its roots again.

When the Obamas announced that they were installing a vegetable garden at the White House and enlisting local school children to help with the process, we were thrilled.
Eleanor Roosevelt was the last such noblesse agrarian with her Victory Garden -- planted with Landreth Seeds.

The Obamas' garden is victoriously symbolic, too. Gardening is about more than better health, safer foods, and environmental stewardship. While "getting our hands dirty" may not help us overcome all of the turmoil and challenges we currently face as a country, there is something to be said for the lessons that gardening can teach us about nurturing, about patience, and about self-sufficiency. These are simple survival skills for a complex world, and ones we've tragically neglected to teach the last several generations of young Americans who have been well-fed by the marketing of instant gratification.

When we moved to the farm two years ago, we knew very little about farming. We learned virtually everything we know (which admittedly is still far from complete) by doing a little online research and doing a lot of talking with our neighbors. This year the farm is supporting an online social network to inspire others to get their hands dirty and to encourage the more accomplished to share their own best practices. In honor of Landreth's anniversary, we are calling it America's Oldest, Largest Garden Party.

To kick things off, we've sent a full set of Landreth heirloom seeds to the White House as a way to say "Thank You" to its current inhabitants for making the effort amidst the chaos to help America bloom again.


If you know something about gardening, please share it with the rest of us at www.beekman1802.com

To learn more about the financial benefits of backyard gardening, check out our friends at Kitchen Gardeners International, www.kitchengardeners.org