5/7/2009 8:46 PM
The President's wife Michelle Obama likes to be green and healthy. She and young students created a kitchen garden in front of the White House.
The First Lady joined forces with some students from the Washington neighborhood school Bancroft Elementary, putting on gardening boots, rolling-up their sleeves and grabbing shovels and rakes. Their project: To create an all organic vegetable bed in the kitchen garden of the White House.
In over 60 years this is the first kitchen garden on the grounds of the White House, last planted where First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (wife of President Franklin Roosevelt (1933-1945)) grew fruit and vegetables. The Obamas wanted to present an example to America of a good and healthy diet. This is Michelle Obama's idea. She said: "Healthy eating is for me and my family very important." Especially in these times of fast food and increasing obesity, she wants to sharpen the diet consciousness of Americans. The harvested vegetables and herbs will be used by the Obama family, staff and guests of the White House.
Students will work the garden from planting to preparation of the harvest. The harvested vegetables and herbs will not only be prepared for the White House, but will also benefit a kitchen for the needy -- Miriam's Kitchen.
Michelle Obama along with the children and horticulture expert Dale Haney has richly stocked the L-shaped kitchen garden with various species of vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, carrots, spinach, shallots, fennel, sugar peas, and various types of lettuce (oakleaf, redleaf, romaine, and butterhead). Aromatic herbs are also growing in the garden of the "First Gardener". These include sorrel, thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, hyssop, chamomile and marjoram. Some raised beds were built where mint and rhubarb will grow. There are also beds for brightly colored zinnias and nasturtiums.
Mrs. Obama said on her recent trip to Europe with her husband, the "number one question" she got was about the garden. "Every single person, from Prince Charles on down, they were excited about the fact that we were planting a garden, because in many countries they really believe in the importance of planting and growing your own food."
According to a White House fact sheet, the garden measures approximately 1,100 square feet. It is located on west side of the South Lawn and will be visible to tourists from outside the White House fence. Only organic fertilizers and insect repellants will be used and lady bugs and praying mantises will be introduced to naturally control other insects.
Assistant White House chef Sam Kass, who followed the Obamas to Washington from Chicago, noted that a White House carpenter who raises bees has set up hives nearby for pollination purposes. The Agricultural Research Service reported that in July, USDA will be providing two types of parasite-resistant honey bees developed by department scientists to pollinate the plants in the garden.
The garden will be tended by Dale Haney, grounds superintendent for the White House, and Kass, who is also the White House food initiative coordinator.
Asked about whether he was worried that the Obama family dog might dig in the garden, Kass said, "We're going to cross the dog when we come to it."
Source: White House, Washington DC
Copyright ©2009 Paul J. Erdek, FloridaGardener.com