"Food is arguably the non-partisan issue of all non-partisan issues," Simon said. "Everybody needs to eat."
Simon, 28, and Gustowarow, 27, hope that the next President can set an example for the rest of the country by using environmentally and economically sustainable agricultural practices to grow his own food on the 17-plus acre White House lawn.
Their arrival at the Jones Valley Urban Farm in their Merry Prankster-esque bus was well-timed. Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma, wrote a lengthy article on the future of farming and national security for this week's New York Times Magazine that makes several arguments for decentralizing food production and encouraging Americans to garden at home. Pollan suggested in the article, "Farmer in Chief," that the next President should "tear out five prime south-facing acres of the White House lawn and plant in their place an organic fruit and vegetable garden," which he hoped would inspire something like first lady Eleanor Roosevelt's Victory Garden movement.
Besides the advantages that a more localized food production system could grant in environmental and economic costs, Simon said that home gardening has other benefits as well. "As you nurture [the earth,] it nurtures you," he said. Gardening is good exercise. But it's also therapeutic, an effect Simon saw at their last stop in New Orleans. He told an anecdote about one loquacious and likely intoxicated woman who "wouldn't shut up, so someone there gave her a garden hose and told her to water plants." According to Simon, the woman immediately became quiet, and focused on the task at hand.
It was evident that Simon also felt home-based farming and self-sufficiency is in some ways patriotic. The bus Simon and Gustowarow (who became friends while working in the US Peace Corps) drive is decorated with many miniature American flags, and Simon chatted frequently about what home-based farming means to America.
"In a sense this country was founded on food," Simon said. "That song, '91This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land,' I think is about being in touch with the land."
Simon, Gustowarow, and the White House Organic Farm bus (which they purchased from one of the founders of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream) headed on to Atlanta after a free meal from Bottega, and then on to election battleground states like North Carolina and Virginia. The WHOFarm diesel fuel bill was subsidized thanks to 10 gallons of biodiesel made and donated by Jones Valley Urban Farm.
If you'd like to donate to the WHOFarm cause - which is largely funded from Simon and Gustowarow's life savings - or simply learn more about the movement, visit www.thewhofarm.org.