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OpEdiTude: White House kitchen garden should make Cliven Bundy happy

One Nevada cattle rancher, whose been the center of attention recently for his criticism of the Federal government as overreaching one day and defying it exists at all the next day, should be happy that at least one prominent Negro family is taking his advice about home gardening.

First Lady Michaelle Obama helps kids water plants during the sixth planting of the kitchen garden at the White House
White House

That rancher, Cliven Bundy, who has been championed by Fox News and other Tea Party-minded activists as a patriot standing up to a tyrannical national government and pilloried by Democrats and progressives as an ignorant racist who doesn't pay his bills and doesn't believe in the rule of law, wondered aloud last week about whether Negro families, when they were slaves before the Civil War ended the system of human bondage that landowners in the Deep South relied upon for their livelihood, would be better off with a garden to tend?

"I'm wondering," the 67-year old resident of Bunkerville, NV said, "Are they [Negroes] happier now under this government subsidy system than they were when they were when they were slaves and they was able to [have] their family structure together and the chickens and the garden and the people have something to do?"

It probably brings a smile to Bundy that America's First Negro Family, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle and their two teenage daughters, who have resided at the White House for over six years so far and won't be leaving for more than two years more, announced the planting of the sixth annual White House kitchen garden.

But while Bundy and his brigade of belligerent bullies were promising to put women on the front lines so when government officials started shooting, they would be shot first, the First Lady was joined by local students and FoodCorps co-founders and service members, none of whom were toting weaponry of any kind, with the exception of trowels and shovels, gathered on the South Lawn, where the first kitchen garden was first planted in 2009.

The event was part of Let's Move!, a program that focuses on exercise and healthy eating. First Lady Michelle Obama was on hand to help students water newly planted vegetables. FoodCorps, a program dedicated to teaching children about healthy food while ensuring they have access to it during the school day, will be working in several DC-area schools that had some of their students working along side Mrs. Obama.

It must have been music to Bundy's ears that more and more people and families are planting vegetable gardens across the nation. Simultaneous to the announcement of the sixth kitchen garden be planted at the White House last week, Bundy, whose affiliation with the Mormon Church includes paternal and maternal family born and raised in this south part of Nevada near Utah, said he knows about "the Negro."

Recalling driving by of a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, the man who after about 20 years of not paying below market level grazing fees that he once paid but stopped paying, which has now grown to over $1 million, said he observed that "the door was usually open and the older people and the kids — and there is always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch — they didn’t have nothing to do," he said, adding, "They didn’t have nothing for their kids to do. They didn’t have nothing for their young girls to do. And because they were basically on government subsidy, so now what do they do? They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom."

There's good news for Mr. Bundy. The National Gardening Association reported that 35 percent of all households in America are growing food at home or in a community garden, a 17 percent increase in participation in the last five years. Two million more households are engaging in community gardening, an increase of 200 percent since 2008.

The First Negro Family is making Bundy proud by planting the first-ever White House Pollinator Garden, to support bees, monarch butterflies, and other pollinators. Nearly two-thirds of consumed foods are pollinated by bees, so it’s important to have plants in the garden that support pollination, just like the ones now growing at the White House. The garden does many things, one of the most important is to raise awareness of the major environmental threats currently facing pollinators across the nation.

Bundy's bellicose statements belying his profound ignorance of the world changing around him were both shocking and anticipated, if not expected. Talk about odd bed fellows, Bundy and Michelle Obama are on the same page when it comes to family structure and how a garden can help.

The First Lady's checklist must have been channeling the Bundy's brain: "First step is talking to your family members about starting a vegetable garden for your home. From selecting plants and seeds to harvesting vegetables, gardening is a fun way to spend time together and enjoy delicious meals around the dinner table."

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