UC Cooperative Extension leader to 'Tweet' from White House garden on Friday

Oct 16, 2012

California will be well represented on Friday, Oct. 19, when Michelle Obama's kitchen garden – a model vegetable garden on the south lawn of the White House – is the site of a national "Tweetup.” Rose Hayden-Smith, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources sustainable food systems initiative leader, will be part of the White House Social Fall Garden Tour.

Follow the event in real time from 5 a.m. to 12 noon Pacific Time on Twitter using the tag #whgarden.

White House Social is a series of in-person meetings of people who engage with the White House through social media, including Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Hayden-Smith has followed Barack Obama, Michelle Obama and the White House on Twitter since Obama's election in 2008. She won the invitation after entering a contest that asked contestants to describe in 140 characters why they wanted to visit the White House garden.

"I'm really excited to be part of this,” said Hayden-Smith, who is also a UC Cooperative Extension advisor in Ventura County, specializing in 4-H youth, family and community development. "The fact that the Obamas are cultivating a food-producing garden on the grounds of the White House says really wonderful things about our country. The First Family is showing its concern about the health of Americans and reducing childhood obesity. That's something we at UC Cooperative Extension care a great deal about.”

Hayden-Smith Tweets as "Victory Grower” (@victorygrower) a persona she created to reflect her interest in a national revival of the Victory Garden movement, in which increasing food production was considered vital to bolstering national security by creating a more secure food supply.

"It's a different 'victory' now, but many of the goals are the same," Hayden-Smith said. "Gardens connect people with food and food production. Food is fundamental. It's what everyone shares in common. As we are entering a more challenging era of increased population and pressure on resources, it is vital for people to understand how to cultivate food.”

Hayden-Smith travels to Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Oct. 17. On Thursday, she and her colleague Rachel Surls (@rachelsurls), UCCE advisor in Los Angeles County, will tour urban garden projects in the nation's capital. They will be Tweeting about their tour on Thursday afternoon using the tag #urbanag.

Though not an official part of White House Social, Surls will have a brief tour of the White House Kitchen Garden on Friday. She will Tweet on Friday using the tag #whgarden.

Surls and Hayden-Smith are joining with UC Agriculture and Natural Resources to promote urban agriculture in California, an effort that is expected to generate multiple benefits. Gardening provides a way for people to be physically active, to improve food access, to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and to reconnect people with agriculture.

Following are background articles related to Victory Grower and urban agriculture efforts:

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist