A fox in the snow...garden. Not the White House Kitchen Garden, but close enough. (Image Source: Flickr: robert_p_uk)
The federal government's shutdown, now entering its 15th day, has had quite a few casualties. The memorials and parks are closed and blockaded. Cancer patients are being turned away by the numbers. Now, there is an odd casualty close to home: The Kitchen Garden of the White House. With gardeners and other employees furloughed because of the government shutdown, the Kitchen Garden in the South Lawn of the White House, which is entering harvest season, is being left untended. That has left a fox, an actual fox, lurking around the White House garden, and the White House cannot actually catch it.
The Kitchen Garden is an effort spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama to support locally grown food, by growing a variety of vegetables and fruits on the White House lawn. These fruits and vegetables include sweet potatoes, lettuce, okra, lemongrass, and papaya. Every year except last year, the First Lady has been leading harvesting weekends with school children, and often ties in her other initiatives, such as Let's Move, with the Kitchen Garden.
However, the National Park Service, which employs the White House gardeners, is almost completely shut down, and has left the Kitchen Garden in the hands of a skeleton crew, who can do little to maintain and/or harvest the already-ripe vegetables and plants. As a result, much of the garden is suffering from overgrowth, or their fruits withering from being overripe. In addition, it has allowed pesky rodents such as squirrels and birds to take over the garden, feeding off the fruits and vegetables. Finally, bad placement of a sprinkler led to a beehive being sprayed with water, no doubt causing damage to the hive and its honey collection.
Which leads us to the sly orange fox. Apparently, the fox set up shop about two weeks ago in the White House South Lawn, and lurks around the Kitchen Garden at dawn and dusk. While the fox apparently surfaced before the shutdown happened, the lack of a full gardening staff has made efforts to catch the fox incredibly difficult. The skeleton crew decided to just leave it alone for now, and wait until the government reopens for business to deal with the fox. The damage caused by the fox and friends to the Kitchen Garden remains uncertain, but the greater damage is simply a lack of staff handling the garden during the important harvest season.