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The White House
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the First Lady at Annual Kitchen Garden Planting

Kitchen Garden

1:41 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  Hi!  (Applause.)  How are you guys doing?  Are you staying warm? 


MRS. OBAMA:  That’s good.  You’ve got hats on and everything.  You guys must not be from Wisconsin.  (Laughter.) 

We’ve got some visitors with us today, don’t we?  Okay.  Let me make sure who everybody is who’s here today.  We’ve got students from the Washburn Elementary School in Washburn, Wisconsin.  (Applause.)  Woo hoo, yay!  Is it cold to you guys today? 

STUDENT:  A bit.  (Laughter.) 

MRS. OBAMA:  A bit.  That’s how the Wisconsin folks feel.  We’ve got Arthur Ashe Charter School from New Orleans, Louisiana!  That’s you guys, right?  (Applause.)  Welcome!  We’ve got Kemper Elementary School from Cortez, Colorado.  (Applause.)  It’s not cold to you guys, is it?   

And then we have our regular students from Bancroft Elementary School from right here in Washington, D.C., and from Tubman Elementary School as well, from right here in our own backyard.  (Applause.)  Tubman and Bancroft have been helping me plant the White House Kitchen Garden for just about eight years.  So this is a very special planting.  Do you guys have any idea why it’s so special for me in particular?  Why?

Well, this will be the last White House Kitchen Garden planting for me in this administration.  It was eight years ago that we cooked up this really interesting idea that maybe we could dig up some dirt on the South Lawn, let them do that -- maybe somebody would let us do that, and we would plant a wonderful garden that would be a space for us to talk about the food we eat.  And it was always the idea that we would have kids very involved in everything that we do. 

So young people from Tubman and Bancroft and schools from around the country, they come every planting and every harvest, and they help us put our vegetables in and take them out in the fall.  And it’s been really a fun tradition for us here at the White House, because I think we’ve really been able to change the conversation about what you guys eat.  Because our thought was that if you know where your food comes from, you might be a little more interested in eating your vegetables if you know what they look like. 

But the garden has become so much more than that.  It’s a place where our staff comes to volunteer.  People from around the White House come, they help out.  We’ve produced thousands of pounds of food every year that we give to homeless shelters in the area.  We’ve gotten organizations involved.  This year, we have folks from NASA here.  Where are our NASA people?  (Applause.)  We got the space people here!  (Laughter.) 

Because, in addition to being a really important resource for us, the White House Kitchen Garden has really begun a conversation around the country about community gardens.  And we’ve seen an increase in the number of folks that are planting community gardens in their neighborhoods.  They’re even doing some community gardening in space, as we understand, which takes the concept to a whole other level.

So the folks from NASA are going to help us plant.  But we understand that there is some gardening going on up in the space station right now, and we may be doing -- some sister planting going on here.  So we’re very excited to have you all here.  Thank you for the work that you do.  Thank you for being here.

And in honor of the last planting, we’re going to be talking about community gardens all over the country.  We’re going to talk about this growth in -- community garden, and I’m going to be doing some surprise visits to community gardens around the nation.  On Thursday, we’re setting out to do some surprise visits in a couple of states in our country.  We did a few surprise visits here just a few weeks ago, surprised a couple of schools that have some phenomenal school gardens, as well as some community farmers.

So we’re going to be doing that just to continue to raise awareness, to talk about our successes, and to hopefully create healthier food and healthier lives for these kids.  It’s all about you guys, right?  (Applause.)  Yay for you!  (Applause.) 

But I want to take this time to thank all the kids here and all the kids around the country who have been a part of this garden.  This is my baby.  And hopefully, this will not be the last planting.  Hopefully, there will be other administrations who come in and they take up this project and continue to make this a part of the White House tradition.

But in honor of those kids who have helped out, we’ve invited some special guests back.  We have some of the kids who initially helped us plant the first garden.  You guys were in fifth grade?  All right, where are -- and you are now in high school.  And you look different!  (Laughter.)  You have grown up!  But all of you guys were here with me, and I kind of remember a couple of faces.  You guys are, like, grown up!  But I’m just happy you guys have -- coming back to help us do the last planting.  You guys started with us, and you’re ending with us.  I’m so proud of you guys.  Thank you for being here today.  And you guys are pros now!  (Applause.)  We’ve come full circle.

So this is a great day, even though it’s freezing cold to some, particularly those in D.C.  As a Chicagoan, this is kind of a nice day.  (Laughter.)  But let’s get to work.  I hear you guys have your assignments.  Are we ready to go?  (Applause.)  All right, let’s move!  Let’s plant!  Let’s get it done! 

1:48 P.M. EDT