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UC Davis student a nominee for White House farmer

by | February 12, 2009
Propelled in part by the success of a flourishing salad garden in front of a campus building, University of California-Davis graduate student Margaret Lloyd may be taking her mission of fresh food for all to the White House.

Ms. Lloyd and three other U.S. farmers are the nominees for "White House farmer," according to results from a recently conducted nationwide on-line poll.

That position has been proposed by Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, but does not yet exist. The on-line competition was launched at, a web site created by a farm family in central Illinois.

"We were inspired by author Michael Pollan's call last fall for a White House farmer," Ms. Lloyd, a graduate student in the Department of Plant Sciences, who spearheaded the campus salad garden experiment, said in a press release. "By raising produce at the White House, President Obama's promise of change can include the food Americans eat."

Neal Van Alfen, dean of the UC-Davis College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, said he was proud of Ms. Lloyd's efforts.

"Just the discussion of a White House farmer opens up the dialogue on the challenges of our food system," Mr. Van Alfen said in the press release. "Margaret's efforts and those of the other White House farmer nominees are fantastic examples of innovative leadership that build awareness and understanding of the food system and get the public involved in policy decisions that affect food and agriculture."

Ms. Lloyd, who had a private business training individuals to become home farmers before she began graduate studies at UC-Davis, said that the proposed White House farmer would showcase the president's efforts to address hard issues within the food system, his support for local organic food and his openness to innovation. She also noted that appointment of a White House farmer would complement President Obama's choice for assistant White House chef, Sam Kass, who is known for championing local produce.