In the Heart of the Empire, a Tiny Garden GrewBy Russell Arben Fox for FRONT PORCH REPUBLIC
This wonderful essay–a sad, reflective, but also hopeful one–tells the story of Michelle Obama’s long forgotten (by most people, anyway) backyard garden initiative, and the local farmer (the father of the essay’s author) who, by happenstance, was tapped to help make it a reality. It is an excellent, thoughtful, and sobering story. Here’s the concluding paragraphs, but you really need to read the whole thing:
Politics can seem like a brutal game played for nothing but chits, but every once in a while–a visit to the looming black angles of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, or watching a scratchy film of Eleanor Roosevelt offering her hand to smudgy little girl standing shyly outside a shack in Appalachia–it feels true. These are the moments when we are suddenly, unexpectedly, citizens.
We still have the picture with the first lady, my father shaking her hand, on the sideboard in the dining room. Most of the other pictures in the room are of vegetables; a watercolor of a farmer’s market, a framed label from a tomato crate, a pastel of a rutabaga. Our brush with politics was thrilling, and a very small, easily given service to the country. But my dad made his decision a long time ago about what was really important to him. Politicians run the world, but a farmer’s first loyalties are to a smaller patch of dirt.