Feature

What Parents Can Learn From the White House Kitchen Garden

By Matt Schoch, PBS Food

Michelle Obama helps plant herbs with a team of Girl Scouts. (Photo by Matt Schoch)

For at least one beautiful Spring afternoon at 16th and Pennsylvania, potatoes pushed aside politics and cauliflower discarded campaigns. On Monday, the focus of attention at the White House was aimed at the 4th annual planting of the White House Kitchen Garden.

At the event, First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a group of elementary school students and Girl Scouts from New York, North Carolina, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. The children were selected after writing letters to Mrs. Obama about their own gardening experiences.

Together with the First Lady and a team of White House chefs, the children planted a wide range of fruits, vegetables and herbs.

First Lady Michelle Obama and White House chef Sam Kass talk to Girl Scouts about planting potatoes. (Photo by Matt Schoch)

As it enters its fourth year, the Kitchen Garden has done more than just provide fresh produce to the First Family and to nearby shelter Miriam’s Kitchen. It has provided a positive example and teaching opportunity about the value that children can receive from their own gardens.

According to Mrs. Obama, gardening with children is a way to connect them to healthy eating habits.

“One of the reasons why we plant the garden is that it’s an important way to have a good conversation about your health,” she told the excited youth. “We want you to grow up healthy. And the garden is a good way to start the conversation, because vegetables and fruits are a big part of a healthy diet.”

Michelle Obama speaks to elementary school children about the importance of healthy eating. (Photo by Matt Schoch)

But when kids actually get their own hands dirty, suddenly those green beans and tomatoes become a lot more exciting to eat.

“When you grow your own vegetables and fruits, they taste really good. They taste better than a lot of stuff you’ll get in a grocery store, trust me,” said Mrs. Obama. “My kids have done it. They’re not big fans of all vegetables, but if they help to work on it they’re much more excited about trying it out.”

The words of Thomas Jefferson, who inspired many Americans to plant their own gardens, are found in the garden. (Photo by Matt Schoch)

The White House Kitchen Garden shows that kids are more excited about gardening and healthy eating when they get to help plant and harvest the garden. We’ve compiled a list of resources that can assist you in creating your own kitchen garden.

Matt Schoch is the senior editor of PBS Food.