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UC Davis Grad Student Is Nominee for White House Farmer

February 4, 2009

Photo: Margaret Lloyd kneeling next to a garden.

UC Davis graduate student Margaret Lloyd may be taking her mission of fresh food for all to the White House. (Dave Jones/UC Davis photo)

Propelled in part by the success of a flourishing salad garden in front of a campus building, UC Davis graduate student Margaret Lloyd may be taking her mission of fresh food for all to the White House. Lloyd and three other U.S. farmers are the nominees for "White House farmer," according to results from a nationwide online poll taken over the last two weeks.

That position has been proposed by Michael Pollan, author of "The Omnivore’s Dilemma," but does not yet exist. The online competition was launched at WhiteHouseFarmer.com, 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," said Lloyd, a graduate student in the Department of Plant Sciences, who spearheaded the campus salad garden experiment. "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 and Environmental Sciences, said he was proud of Lloyd's efforts.

"Just the discussion of a White House farmer opens up the dialogue on the challenges of our food system," Van Alfen said. "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."

Lloyd said the proposed White House Farm 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 of Sam Kass, who is known for championing local produce.

"I am very grateful to the people who have supported me so far, including my sister Alex and brother-in-law Tom, my brother, parents, friends, colleagues and clients," Lloyd said. She had a private business, training individuals to become home farmers before she began graduate studies at UC Davis in plant pathology and international agricultural development.

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