Robert S. Emmett - Abstract

Enthusiasm for public food gardens exploded in the wake of the Financial Crisis of 2008-2009. Raising micro-greens and rows of beans in deindustrialized cities took central place in several overlapping discourses about  urban greenspace, public health, and “food justice.” The community garden movement catalyzed existing gardening programs worldwide for charity and more radical aims. There was an insurgent edge to first Lady Michelle Obama’s creation of an organic vegetable garden on the White House South Lawn in March 2009. By 2016, that garden was quietly paid for by the Burpee seed company--a corporate gesture of charity for the under-funded National Parks Service responsible for the White House Grounds. Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway have playfully called recent decades the beginning of the “Penumbral Period,” noting global trends of disengaging political economy from environmental crises. How do ironic garden cultivation narratives, such as The Bucolic Plague or I.D.P. 2043 and others, illuminate the food-environment complex of the Penumbral Period?