Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published March 29, 2011, 09:50 AM

First lady plants White House garden

WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama planted her third White House vegetable garden March 16 just before a New York publisher announced that the first lady will write a book on the White House patch that will be published next year.

By: Jerry Hagstrom, Special to Agweek

WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama planted her third White House vegetable garden March 16 just before a New York publisher announced that the first lady will write a book on the White House patch that will be published next year.

As she spoke to fourth- and fifth-graders from Washington public schools who were about to help her plant the garden on the South Lawn, the first lady continued her campaign to reduce childhood obesity.

“Go home and get your parents and grandparents . . . to cook vegetables,” she said. “A lot of times they think you won’t eat (them).”

“Let’s move,” she told the children, using the theme of her anti-obesity campaign. “Let’s get it done.”

Book project

Meanwhile, New York-based Crown Publishing Group said in a news release that the first lady would write a book that will tell the story of the garden “and how improved access to fresh, locally grown food can promote healthier eating habits for families and communities.”

Crown said the book is not yet titled, but will be an illustrated four-color hardcover, including photographs of the White House garden throughout the seasons as well as community, urban, and school gardens around the country. A standard e-mail version and an enhanced e-book will be published simultaneously when the book is released.

The publisher said that Obama will describe how concern about the health of her daughters, Sasha and Malia, was a catalyst for change in her own family’s eating behavior and how that change inspired her to plan an edible garden on the South Lawn, the first since Eleanor Roosevelt’s “victory garden” was planted during World War II.

Crown, a division of Random House, also said that the first lady accepted no advance for the book and will donate all proceeds to charity.

Garden variety

The garden, which was 1,100 square feet the first year, is now, 1,500 square feet. The main difference this year is that the plants are in raised beds, making them easier to weed. The young plants are started from seeds at the White House greenhouse, which is at an undisclosed location, a press aide said.

The plants this year include a range of vegetables, including artichokes, kale and purple broccoli from Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s estate in Virginia.

When told by Sam Kass, the White House deputy chef who is also an adviser on healthy eating, that the garden will include beets, Obama grimaced and said, “The president doesn’t like beets.” Her daughters do like broccoli, she noted.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who participated in the first two garden plantings, was not present this year because he was in California promoting antihunger efforts and the U.S. South Korea free trade agreement.

Anne MacMillan, a Vilsack senior adviser who helped write the specialty crop title of the farm bill, represented him and helped plant the garden.

Tags: