The Country’s Most Famous Garden

July 1st, 2010

I’ve talked on this blog, from time to time, of my fondness for fresh produce. I volunteer at my local farmers’ market. And I make use of what little sun I have on my deck for a potted garden of tomatoes, herbs, and new this year, peppers (their success is yet to be seen).

My interest in gardening is new – only within the past six or seven years – and has grown progressively. And my interest in vegetables, well let’s just say that still shocks my parents after all these years. I was that picky of an eater as a child.

For Father’s Day weekend, my dad, sister and I took a little road trip down to Washington D.C. to do some museum hopping. With the immense heat, we had committed to air conditioned activities only, until my sister decided that we couldn’t leave town without stopping by the White House. Since this wasn’t my first trip, I was less than excited (not much changes on the outside), until I spotted the White House Garden.

The White House Presidential Garden

From the sidewalk, it appeared smaller than I would have expected (even though it is actually about 1,100 square feet). Last year, the garden produced over 1,000 pounds of food, feeding not only the Obamas, but dinner guests and local homeless shelters as well. This year, the size of the garden has been increased. And in the garden you will find everything from broccoli and rhubarb to tomatillos and Japanese eggplant.

Even though I had stood at the White House fence before, and gazed at the South Lawn (playing spot the Secret Service men), seeing the new garden was extremely exciting. After all, the White House hasn’t housed a garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden during World War II.

The White House - Washington, D.C.

In fact, the whole thing got me motivated to consider a plot in my community garden next year – something I had written off this year as too time consuming. (They have a lot more sun then I’ve got in my yard!)

But I’m not the only one. According to the Christian Science Monitor, W. Atlee Burpee & Co (a seed company) saw a 30% jump in vegetable seed sales in 2009 over the previous year. That’s pretty impressive.

And I haven’t even gotten into the real purpose of the garden, which is to encourage more consumption of fresh foods. What started out as a personal mission for her family, has become Michelle Obama’s platform – demanding healthier options and fresh food for our country’s children. This mission is winning favor with parents, and food manufacturers have responded with plans to cut sodium, sugar and more.

I managed to get a picture of the garden, before the Secret Service began to shoo us away. Others in the crowd were certain this meant the presidential motorcade was coming through, or that President Obama was coming out onto the lawn. But, since it was late in the day, I’m certain that it that the high alert was to allow the First Lady, and her girls, a chance to water their garden undisturbed.

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