Inside the White House: The Kitchen Garden
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Inside the White House: The Kitchen Garden

♪♪ ♪♪ Mrs. Obama:
The garden was something that
I had always thought about. I was probably like most busy
mothers who were, you know, a busy working family and I
would find it difficult to feed my family in a
healthy way quickly. So I decided to change our diet,
and this happened throughout the course of the campaign, and it
was really simple things: Adding more fruits and vegetables,
trying to sit down as a family and prepare a meal a
couple of times a week. Eating out a little bit less,
eliminating processed and sugary foods as much as possible. And I saw some really immediate
results with just those minor changes. And I thought, well, if
I could help other families kind of learn these small changes
in my role as First Lady, that would be a good thing. Mr. Kass:
Today we are amending our
soil and we’ve gotten our soil tested, it’s actually
in really good shape, so what we’re going to do is add
a few amendments to increase the fertility of the soil to sort of
provide a lot of stability for the soil and bring it into
balance, basically setting the foundation that we’ll build
on for years to come. We’re doing our first till. We’re churning over
the soil about, we’re going down about
six to eight inches deep, and then we’re going to
spread some amendments. We’re going to use some sulfate
to potash which is basically to add some sulfur. We have crab meal which is going
to add our calcium and nitrogen to that food critical and our
crabs are sourced from the Chesapeake so we’re all
keeping it in the region. President Franklin D. Roosevelt:
Guess what that means: no
work, no spuds; no work, no turnips; no tanks, no
Flying Fortress, no victory. Bear that in mind, all
you victory gardeners, and work for victory. Mr. Kass:
This is the first vegetable
garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory
garden in World War II. When we looked back
at the records it was, they actually had a really tough
time getting it established, and in the end it
was plot, you know, probably about the size of one
bed that we have here that one of the daughters of somebody
who worked here tended to. So as a sort of really
productive, you know, feeding a lot of people garden,
this is the first one in well over a hundred years. The seeds that we’re using from
Monticello that Thomas Jefferson had passed down were given
to us by Peter Hatch, who is the head
gardener at Monticello. Thomas Jefferson more than any
one man changed the way we eat in this country and in
the way we grow food. When his ambassadors would go
out all over the world he would ask them to bring back seeds,
and he’s the first person to start seasonal growing. That is something that people
are really sort of coming back to now and thinking
about ways to, you know, use a diversity of crops and
keep going throughout the year. Mrs. Obama:
People were uniformly
excited about trying to make this happen. Today is getting the soil ready,
and we’ll come back in a couple of weeks to actually
do the planting, and then sometime
in June, right, right around the time
that school is over, hopefully we’ll have lots of
great vegetables and fruits. We’ll harvest them, and then
we’ll bring you guys into the kitchen in the White House. Mr. Kass:
The kids from Bancroft who have
helped us plant the garden have just been absolutely phenomenal. Mrs. Obama:
Hey, look, Sam,
there’s a carrot. Mr. Kass:
They came and gave these talks
about what they’ve learned. It was just mind blowing. Kids talked about, one kid
talked about how she now eats all of her fruits and, all of
her vegetables at dinner and her mom is noticing a difference,
but that her favorite vegetable is carrots, and just like
people, I quote, carrots have a history. The kids took this
to a level that I could never have even imagined.
They’ve just been tremendous. Mrs. Obama:
We wanted the focus to be
on kids because you can affect children’s behavior so
much more easily than you can adults, and I saw
that in my own life. My kids, you know, jumped on the
new routine and didn’t miss a beat, and they began to monitor
our behavior more so than I was monitoring theirs. And also I want to
encourage people to think about doing
more family meals. We’ve found that we’ve been
able to do that and, you know, part of the message is if the
President of the United States can sit down with his
family and have dinner, hopefully more families find
the time to do the same thing. A Speaker:
Here. Smell this. Peppery. Mr. Kass:
So far it’s been incredible. We’ve produced over 200 pounds
of food already, going on 210, and, you know, it’s
not even July yet. So it’s pretty, we’re
doing pretty well. Our first major dinner was a
small dinner of like 20 of the sort of nation’s top economic
advisors and thinkers, and we did, the whole first salad was completely out of the garden. We actually have a lot.
If we need a little more — Mrs. Obama:
I don’t think about this
with my kids in terms of what I want them to be today,
I’m thinking about who I want them to be when they go to
college and when they raise their own kids. How will they
make choices about what they eat when they’re away from me. What will be the messages that
are in their head as they think about, you know, whether they’re
going to drink the soda or whether they’re going
to have glass of water. How will they engage their own
children in these messages early on so that these become habits
that are just a part of life and not something that you have
to change in midstream. So the garden is really an
important introduction to what I hope will be a new way that
our country thinks about food. So that’s, you know, that’s
the story of the garden, and it’s been quite an amazing
success, if I do say so myself.

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