Government agencies, national parks, federal workers, those on federal assistance... these are all well-publicized victims of the government shutdown, but there are other casualties suffering similar misfortune worthy of attention. Who could imagine the White House vegetable garden enduring a pitiable fate?
Alas, it's true. Thanks to the mandate for "minimal maintenance," the only attention the garden gets now is watering, but no weeding or harvesting, according to food blogger Eddie Gehman Kohan, who writes that "the vegetables filling the 1,500 square-foot plot are now rotting away on the vines and in the boxed beds."
Thus the tomatoes and basil are becoming overgrown (tomatoes are vines and have to be managed regularly to keep from taking over the garden), sweet potatoes can no longer be salvaged and have been reduced to "worm food," and weeds and mushrooms are popping up in the vegetable rows that are usually kept neat enough to be the photo essay center piece of the the finest foodie magazines.
Additionally, and perhaps worse, gangs of squirrels have gotten through the barriers around the garden (are they Barrycades?) and are having a field day. Could they be affiliated with the notorious tree party activists?
And where might the family pet Obamadog be in all this? No doubt, reading his Koran! (First the squirrels came for the cherry tomatoes, and I said nothing because I was not a cherry tomato...)
A portion of the Kitchen Garden crop is routinely donated to Miriam's Kitchen, a social services agency in D.C. that offers free healthy meals to homeless and under-served residents. The White House hopes the shutdown will end in time to provide fall crops to the local soup kitchen.
If there's any consolation in all this, while the vegetables in D.C. may be dying, the nuts are still doing just fine.