John Adams planted the first vegetable garden in 1800 to help offset the cost of entertaining guests, according to historian William Bushong of the White House Historical Association. White House staff also shopped at a nearby farmer's market throughout the 19th century.
Eleanor Roosevelt famously planted a vegetable garden on the grounds that author Pollan said "inspired a victory garden movement that led to the creation of 20 million gardens growing some 40 percent of America's fresh produce during the war."
The soil was too poor to sustain it, Bushong said.
Walter Scheib, former chef for Presidents Clinton and Bush, has said the White House also has a rooftop garden.
The 16-acre White House complex is maintained by the National Park Service, but one worker told ABC News that the White House residence staff will handle sowing and planting in the new veggie garden.
ABC News' Ann Compton and Sunlen Miller contributed to this report.