On a gorgeous Spring day on the South Lawn of the White House, 45 students from Bancroft Elementary and Hollin Meadows Academy joined the First Lady for the annual Spring planting of the White House Kitchen Garden.
Students from Bancroft have been helping the First Lady in her garden since the ground-breaking last year, and this new class of fifth graders proved to be just as talented in the garden as their former schoolmates. The kids from Hollin Meadows had impressed the First Lady with their amazing school garden when she had visited their school last year, so she invited them to come and lend their expertise.
Fellow gardeners included Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and his wife Christy, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, National Gardening Association President Michael Metallo, Susan Sher, the First Lady’s chief of staff, Melody Barnes and Heather Higginbottom from the Domestic Policy Council, and White House Chefs Cris Comerford and Bill Yosses.
After cheers for broccoli, carrots, spinach, lettuce and peas, the First Lady made the call to plant! With an extra 400 sq ft of new land, we had a little more work to do than last year, but we also have an incredible array of vegetables including: broccoli, rhubarb, carrots, spinach, cauliflower, lettuce, peas, collard greens, chard and kale, cabbage, radishes, herbs and more.
The White House Kitchen Garden is a four-season garden and last year we harvested over 1,000 lbs of food. More important than the harvest though is the national conversation that has been started about the need for all of us to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and ensuring that everyone has access to fresh produce in their neighborhoods – key components of the the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative which is an effort to tackle the problem of childhood obesity in this country.
With Let’s Move! the First Lady is calling on everyone to come together to provide parents the information they need to make healthy choices for their families, to create healthier school environments, particularly school meals, to make sure that kids get 60 minutes of active play a day, and to make sure that everyone has access to fruits and vegetables in their communities. The garden is a beautiful and tangible piece of this national conversation.
Like the seeds and sprouts we just planted, Let’s Move! will continue to grow over the coming months. We will be sure to keep you up to date on how the First Lady’s garden, and Let’s Move! are growing. And in the mean time, Let’s Move!
Sam Kass is the White House Assistant Chef and the Food Initiative Coordinator