Michelle’s vegetable garden will live on at the White House
February 17, 2017 12:00 AM
Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press
Bruce Allen, a fifth-grader at Pathways K-5 Charter School, Downtown, stands behind President Barack Obama as he helped harvest produce in the White House Kitchen Garden in October 2016. Carrying a basket at back right is singer Ashanti.
Mary Kathryn Poole/Phipps Conservatory:
Bruce Allen picks vegetables alongside Michelle Obama after the First Lady rededicated the White House Kitchen Garden in October 2016. Bruce and Lemiah Cross, both students at Urban Pathways Charter School, Downtown, took part through Phipps Conservatory's Let's Move Pittsburgh, a program modeled after Mrs. Obama's nationwide Let's Move! initiative.
By Peter Holley / The Washington Post
It was less than a year ago that Michelle Obama referred to it as “her baby.”
She wasn’t talking about her youngest daughter, Sasha, or the Obama’s pet dog Bo, but something undoubtedly dear to her during her time at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.: the White House vegetable garden.
Her comments were made during her eighth and final spring planting, but “hopefully, this will not be the last” one ever, she said.
First lady Melania Trump confirmed that although the garden’s founder may have moved away, her beloved garden lives on.
“As a mother and as the first lady of this country, Mrs. Trump is committed to the preservation and continuation of the White House Gardens, specifically the First Lady’s Kitchen Garden and the Rose Garden,” Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, senior adviser to the first lady, said in a statement to CNN.
The White House vegetable garden was supposedly the first of its kind since Eleanor Roosevelt’s in 1943. The garden has offered a varied menu that included ‘Churchill’ Brussels sprouts and ‘Kentucky Colonel’ spearmint as well as garlic, fennel, shallots and endive. The garden was, at last count, 1,700 square feet in size, but for the past eight years it has occupied a much larger space symbolically, as Mrs. Obama used her platform to fight childhood obesity and improve America’s eating habits.
Throughout that fight, health advocates said, the garden was a physical reminder of the message. The vegetables have been used in dinners for the first family and almost 500 pounds of produce has been shipped to homeless shelters.
In 2010, it became part of the first lady’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, for which Mrs. Obama danced with Elmo and Jimmy Fallon to get kids off the couch and to the crisper. She has also nudged corporations to trim salt, sugar and fat from food products.
The vegetable and herb garden on the corner of the South Lawn more than doubled in area during the Obama presidency. The garden also includes an apiary and a pollinator garden for bees and other insects. A spokesman for Hillary Clinton told the Washington Post that she intended to keep the garden if she were elected president, but President Trump had not signaled whether the garden would survive until last week.
CNN reported that Mrs. Trump toured the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Fla., with Akie Abe, wife of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe. The visit gave the first lady a chance to tout the health benefits and physical beauty that can be derived from a well-kept garden.
“Both our countries’ histories and cultures are steeped in the nurture and nature of gardening,” Mrs. Trump said in a statement, according to CNN. “Having knowledge of different cultures and customs is a wonderful way to learn and to explore. Gardening teaches us the fundamentals in care and the evolution of living things, all while inspiring us to nurture our minds and to relax and strengthen our bodies.”
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