By Matt Schoch, PBS Food
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.
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.”
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 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.
PBS Gardening Resources
- Victory Garden: Plants & Vegetables
- Victory Garden: Primers & Projects
- Victory Garden Q&A
- PBS Parents: Bringing the Joy of the Garden to Children
- PBS Parents Activity: Herbs in Painted Pots
- Let’s Move: Start a Community Garden
- U.S. National Arboretum: Gardening Tips
- USDA Guide to Organic Crops and Gardens
- 2012 Plant Hardiness Zones
- Inside the White House: The Kitchen Garden
Matt Schoch is the senior editor of PBS Food.