Plans for Obama Farmers’ Market Moving Ahead

Request made to close local road

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Last month President Barack Obama mentioned that he and the first lady wanted to set up a farmers' market outside of the White House. Now, that dream appears closer to reality.

First lady Michelle Obama's office put in a request to close Vermont Avenue between H and I streets between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. every Thursday, according to WTOP Radio.

President Obama first talked about the idea of a farmers' market last month at a health care forum.

"One of the things that we’re trying to do now is to figure out, can we get a little farmers’ market outside of the White House," Obama told the crowd. "I’m not going to have all of you all just tromping around inside, but right outside the White House so that we can ... and that is a win-win situation. It gives suddenly D.C. more access to good, fresh food, but it also is this enormous potential revenue-maker for local farmers in the area."

WTOP said locals are concerned about shutting down the road during rush hour, because a whopping 4,600 cars use the road each day. That's compared to more than 20,000 on other roads in the same part of town. But this, of course, is Washington, and people are afraid of any kind of change to their daily routines. So they'll complain.

Taken at face value, the idea of a farmers' market near the White House sounds like a great idea. But as points out, the market can't turn into a tourist trap and must be for locals, by locals. Locals only, one might say...

"If this idea becomes reality, the Obamas should be careful to make it a sustainable market for local farmers rather than a kitschy tourist attraction bogged down by pins and t-shirts that say "Yes We Can Farm" and "Change We Can Grow In," Mother Jones' Ben Buchwalter wrote. "But let's face it, due to the massive security detail the market would require and the overwhelming draw for Washingtonians and tourists alike, the latter is more likely."

Buchwalter suggests the following to make it work:

1. Free Samples
2. Cheap prices
3. Hot meal options, but no chains
4. Live music from local bands

Once again, all good suggestions. It's basically the premise of the incredible farmers' market that takes place at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. For those who have been there, it is an incredible experience that lets both locals and tourists sample the region's best produce.

While a D.C. version wouldn't be as exotic (don't expect 20 types of figs or an abundance of peach samples thrown your direction), it would be a great way to connect people with local farmers and help them realize what it really takes to get healthy local produce on their tables.

The idea may start off with just a small farmers' market that could perturb some motorists, but it could grow into something a lot bigger and better for all of us in the long run.

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