State of the Garden Update, from the First Lady

By Kate Barrett

May 29, 2009 6:34pm

From Sunlen Miller

The First Gardner, Michelle Obama, today visited fifth-graders at Bancroft Elementary School in DC for a State of the Garden update. The kids from Bancroft were the children who originally helped the First Lady planted the White House’s garden in March. They will participate in every step of the way with the garden – from the groundbreaking to the planting, to harvesting later this summer. Today, the First Lady was at their school to not only update the kids on the White House garden’s progress, but to hear and help out with their own organic garden in the school. "I am thrilled to be here," the First lady said after listening to presentations on broccoli, tomatoes, and carrots and said that her own garden at the White House garden, that they helped plan, is doing well. “The garden is beautiful.  It is blooming, it is bursting.  We've already used about 80 pounds of lettuce.  We've eaten it, we served it at a big fancy luncheon that I did for other congressional and senate spouses, and they just raved over it. And I told everybody about the work that you did to plant it, how you came back again and again, and how you're working in your own gardens.” Mrs. Obama said she also shared some of the lettuce and honey with a local homeless shelter Miraim’s Kitchen, in DC. The First Lady said one of the things she likes most about this project with the children is that they get involved in healthy lifestyles in addition to a fun activity of planting the gardens. She said that the 2008 presidential campaign was a warning to the Obama family about the need to eat healthy. “It was take-out, it was processed foods, it was everything quick and easy.  And we started to see that taking a toll on our health.  And our children's pediatrician gave me a little tap on the shoulder and said, ‘you might want to make some changes’.” The First Lady said that the family then added more fruits and vegetables to their plates, eliminated processed foods, and engaged their daughters in understanding what food does to their bodies. “Like the kids at Bancroft, they ate up that information and they started schooling me and lecturing me about what I should be eating, and what a carrot does, and what broccoli does.  And sometimes they look at my plate in disgust now,” the first lady said laughing. Mrs. Obama said the next step is to take the conversation nation-wide. “One of the next steps in this conversation is figuring out how do we ensure, through the help of the government, as well as local communities, that the foods that our kids are getting in school each and every day is as healthy as it can be, so that we're bringing some of these lessons home and we're also expanding them in the classrooms and in the schools.” The First Lady then went with the kids into the organic garden, grabbed a spade, and helped plant a dozen cucumbers and four red bell pepper plants. The kids will be back to the White House later this summer for the harvest of the White House garden. -Sunlen Miller

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