Home to leafy greens, herbs and berries, the White House Kitchen Garden provides fresh foods for the First Family to enjoy each day. On March 20, 2009 with students from Washington's Bancroft Elementary School and First Lady Michelle Obama broke ground on the first vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden during World War II.
Today, the garden is planted, tended and harvested by Mrs. Obama, White House staff, the National Park Service and visitors. Tours of the White House Kitchen Garden are open to elementary, middle and high school students. Most recently, students from across the country -- Girls Scout Troop 60325, students from Harriet Tubman and Bancroft Elementary Schools, second graders from Mitchell Elementary School, sixth graders from Stetser Elementary School and third graders from Sumner Elementary School -- came to the White House to help Mrs. Obama plant new seeds.
How does the White House Kitchen Garden grow? Just like any other garden -- with plenty of sunshine and nurturing, just the right amount of water and proper soiling techniques.
Inspired by the First Lady's passion for healthy living and healthy eating, people across the country have revisited the American tradition of starting a vegetable garden at home. Growing your own fruits and vegetables is a great way to learn where food comes from, spend time with others and incorporate healthy foods into your favorite meals. Even if you don't consider yourself a Master Gardener, you can harvest your own produce at school, in your backyard or around the community.
Students and teachers across the country have already begun using their school gardens for benefits that go beyond the classroom. In this hands-on learning environment, students care for and watch their vegetables grow plus they have fun eating the fruits of their labor. Programs like the Healthier US School Challenge help to promote healthier schools and healthier kids. By planting a school garden with them you can start your students on a healthier path, too.
Ready to start your own school garden? The first step is finding the best location. Tarmac, dry earth, mud and empty fields can be turned into green grounds, outdoor laboratories, vegetable plots, herb gardens, play spaces and study areas.
Various types of lettuce, herbs and other tasty treats grow right on the grounds of the White House -- the South Lawn to be exact. White House chefs like Cris Comerford and Bill Yosses use produce from the White House Kitchen Garden's harvests to create delicious and healthful recipes to cook for the First Family and for special events, like State Dinners.
Ready to start your own garden in the window sill or your backyard? Involve your whole family in planting a vegetable garden for your home and each step of the way -- selecting seeds, tending the garden and enjoying delicious meals around the dinner table -- you'll all have an opportunity to enjoy many memorable moments, while you get moving and eat healthy as a family. If you’re looking for inspiration, follow the First Lady’s lead and try the varietals she planted in the White House Kitchen Garden.
The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) People's Garden initiative has grown into a collaborative effort of over 700 local and national organizations all working together to establish community and school gardens. People from states across the country share their successes, trials-and-errors and great photos with a network of supporters.
Because they benefit the community, are collaborative efforts and incorporate sustainable practices, community gardens are assets that benefit entire neighborhoods, cities and towns. There are thousands of community gardens across the country -- are you ready to start yours? Begin by bringing people and different organizations together to learn which issues are important to your community.
Check out these videos that take you inside the White House Kitchen Garden:
Actors, athletes, Girl Scouts and top chefs -- the White House Kitchen Garden has seen them all. Check out these other videos highlighting the garden throughout the seasons.
- Planting the Spring Garden
- Harvesting the Winter Garden
- In the Garden: The First Lady Talks Health & Nutrition
- Spring Garden Planting