March 20th, 2009
05:05 PM ET
13 years ago

First farm: White House gets new kitchen garden

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="First lady Michelle Obama helped break ground on a new White House 'kitchen garden' Friday."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Want to know where the presidential produce comes from?

Take a walk past the White House. The answer may be planted right in front of you.

First lady Michelle Obama helped break ground on a new White House "kitchen garden" Friday. It will be the first working garden at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since Eleanor Roosevelt planted a so-called "victory garden" at the height of World War II.

This time, however, the enemy is obesity. The first family is hoping to send a clear message to a fast food-driven nation that often seems to be losing the battle of the bulge.

"We're just hoping that a lot of families look at us and say this is something that they can do and talk to their own kids about and think a little bit critically about the food choices that they make," presidential mother-in-law Marian Robinson said.

The first lady told a group of Washington schoolchildren on hand for the occasion that first daughters Sasha and Malia Obama were usually more willing to try fresh fruits and vegetables because fresh produce generally tastes better.

"What I found with my kids (is that) if they were involved in planting it and picking it, they were much more curious about giving it a try," she added.

"I've been able to have my kids eat so many different things that they would have never touched if we had bought it at a store because they either met the farmers that grew it, or they saw how it was grown," she said.

"They were curious about it and ... usually they liked it."

The idea of a presidential kitchen garden, used year-round with different seasonal crops, has been strongly promoted by advocates for organic and locally-grown food. They argue that the White House garden may help set a positive example for families short on time and money, and often tempted by cheaper, highly processed food.

The presidential garden will be used, among other things, for growing such staples as butterhead and red leaf lettuce, spinach, broccoli, onions, carrots, and peas.

It will also include a range of herbs, including sage, oregano, and rosemary.

The garden is one of several new additions to the White House South Lawn.

A swing set for the first daughters was recently installed near the Oval Office.

- CNN's Anne Oblinger contributed to this report.

Filed under: Michelle Obama
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Cali Girl

    I think that's an excellent example to set.

    March 20, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  2. R Wolf

    As is her husband, Michelle Obama is a treasure. This Country is so
    lucky to have them as our first family. It's been a long time since we had a first lady who was intelligent, gracious, and an amazing role model. The first time Laura Bush spoke her mind about her agreement with pro choice, she was shut up and never had anything
    of value to do or say. All the best to you, Michelle. You're an amazing woman.

    March 20, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  3. IndyVoter

    This is great! Saves money and the environment! Bet the food will taste even better too. Thanks First Lady!

    March 20, 2009 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  4. T in NV

    This is such an amazing and great idea. I live in Southern Nevada. We do not have the fertile soil to garden, but I am planting vegetables and fruits in containers/pots. I have an old horse trough that I got used and I have planted carrots, radishes, peas and one tomato plant in it. I am going to plant some compact bush zucchini and squash plants in some big pots. I am also planting herbs in small terra cotta pots. And Meyer's Dwarf lemon trees and Rios Red Dwarf Grapefruit trees are available and can be planted in pots. This is healthy and environmental! My fruits/veggies will not be sprayed with pesticides and there is not shipping necessary! I hope this sets a good example for teh country! I also home they compost. I have two homemade vermicomposters.

    March 20, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  5. mb-texas

    good going,teach where produce starts.

    March 20, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  6. Judy Zukoski, Barnesville, PA

    Michelle Obama is setting a wonderful example for her children and for the nation.

    March 20, 2009 09:02 pm at 9:02 pm |
  7. MLH

    Good on them. They have the space, the time and the money to make it work.

    March 20, 2009 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  8. Steve-O

    Anything... anything at all to try to take our attention away from the budget crisis... which by the way, our President can't stay focused on.

    March 20, 2009 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  9. archigirl

    Good for them! I hope they come up with a presidential solution for squirrels. I love that the White House is looking more like a home – and the healthy examples the first family is setting are admirable.

    March 20, 2009 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  10. Sarah

    Go Michelle!!! Kudos for bringing attention to such an important issue 😀

    March 20, 2009 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  11. GrrlCanada

    Kudos to First Lady. Not only is this a great example for people to live a healthier life but it is economically sound. My own mother, to save money, in a one income family grew a large fruit and vegetable garden and saved so much money. It helps the small farmer in this economy, too.
    Help small farming ventures! Eat better tasting food! Eat healthier! AAAAND... SAVE MONEY!

    March 20, 2009 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  12. Rob from Pa

    People should probably start their own gardens. Pretty soon we won't be able to afford fresh produce from the store.

    March 20, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  13. malclave

    Home gardens are probably a good idea in the new Great Depression Obama is trying to usher in.

    March 20, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  14. A. Darton

    I am so proud to have this woman as my First Lady. I remember when my Mother use to have a garden every summer. And as kids we would help her take care of the garden.

    March 20, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |