News

Squirrels relish White House garden as shutdown sidelines staff

Squirrels relish White House garden as shutdown sidelines staff

GARDEN GONE WILD: The White House garden is being overrun by squirrels during the shutdown. Photo: Reuters

By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In the famous White House kitchen garden, tomatoes are rotting on the vine. Herbs have gone to seed. And the sweet potatoes – a favorite of President Barack Obama – have become worm food.

It’s another impact of the government shutdown, one that only the fox and the many squirrels that live on the White House grounds could love.

A foodie blog called Obamafoodarama that obsessively covers the White House “food ephemera” and the administration’s food policy has posted photos of the normally immaculate garden looking more like what most gardeners’ plots appear at this time of the year – overgrown.

“Due to the shutdown, garden maintenance has been reduced considerably and only being watered as needed,” a White House official confirmed, speaking on background.

First Lady Michelle Obama started the garden on the White House south lawn in 2009, the first time vegetables had been grown there since Eleanor Roosevelt’s “victory garden” during World War II.

She uses the garden as a vehicle to talk about healthy eating and reducing childhood obesity. Some of the produce is used at the White House, while much is donated to a local soup kitchen.

The foodie blog, run by editor Eddie Gehman Kohan, said White House gardeners are allowed only to water the plots and cannot harvest the vegetables. White House staff who normally volunteer to pick the weeds are off on furlough, Gehman Kohan said.

“Pounds and pounds of ripe organic bounty have gone to waste,” she wrote.

“Weeds are springing up everywhere, and the vegetables that have already fallen off the vines are now mouldering on the ground,” she said.

She posted photos from cameras near the garden beds on her blog, including one of a squirrel eating a cherry tomato.

Squirrels are like “kids in a candy store, gorging themselves” on tomatoes and peppers, Gehman Kohan said.

Latest Stories

1 hour ago in Sports

Sharper challenges his no-bail status in Arizona

Fresh
sharper

Lawyers for former NFL All-Pro safety Darren Sharper are challenging the evidence used to keep him in jail without bail on sexual-assault charges in Arizona.

today in Sports

Pistorius trial: Judge sets 2-week adjournment

Oscar-Pistorius

The judge in the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius plans to adjourn for more than two weeks after Thursday.

today in Entertainment

Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly re-team for new comedy

ferrell

The duo are teaming up on the big screen for a third time in a new comedy.

today in Music, Entertainment

Brad Paisley to appear opposite wife on ‘Two and a Half Men’

paisley

Country singer Brad Paisley is set to star opposite his wife in the season finale of "Two and a Half Men."

today in Sports

Wednesday Sports Minute

brewers

Clippers keep pressure on Thunder, Knicks top Nets, Cards shut down Brewers, and more.