Grow your food

Green love from Michelle Obama: First Lady's debut book lauds Houston's garden project

Green love from Michelle Obama: First Lady's debut book lauds Houston's garden project

Michelle Obama, American Grown, book

Not that Houstonians need approval that we are doing something right from first lady Michelle Obama— we are secure like that — but surely it's nice that a forward-thinking, environmentally-conscious local initiative is highlighted in her first ever tome.

In American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America, Obama unearths her journey with the White House Kitchen Garden and writes about her woes and joys of growing lettuce, corn, tomatoes and kale, and mastering the tricks of horticulture to blossom from novice to gardening advocate.

Moreover, the book takes note of nationwide ventures that evince her priorities in advancing the fields of nutrition, health and well-being.

And one of those ventures is the Houston City Gardens, which were built two years ago as part of a larger effort ushered by Mayor Annise Parker to laud the importance of local food, urban gardens and proper nutrition. 

If there's a lesson to be learned in American Grown is that anyone can grow food, even in small spaces, with little cash or limited know-how.

"The City of Houston is leading by example, demonstrating how easy and affordable it can be to build a vegetable container garden and eat healthy, which the First Lady has done herself at the White House," Parker said in a written statement. "In addition to the health, environmental and economic benefits, the City Gardens create a sense of community for staff, fostering collaboration and teamwork."

It took only three weeks after the initial suggestion of Keiji Asakura for green forces like Urban Harvest, Keep Houston Beautiful, Asakura Robinson Co., Laura Spanjian of the city's Sustainability Office and employees of the Department of Public Works and Engineering to set up a row of large vegetable containers next to the Bob Lanier Public Works Building at 611 Walker in June 2010.

But that was just the beginning. 

Today, the urban garden is a thriving example of a synergistic collaboration whose benefits reap beyond its initially established objectives.

Encouraged by that project's success, the inception of Victory Gardens at Tranquility Park, Urban Gardens at the Houston Permitting Center, seven Satellite City Gardens at city buildings throughout Houston and the weekly City Hall Farmers Market followed suit.

If there's a lesson to be learned in American Grown is that anyone can grow food, even in small spaces, with little cash or limited know-how.

Houston knew that. Though the Bayou City is not often recognized for being a leader in green living, those winds are a changing.