Michelle Obama photo

Remarks by the First Lady at the White House Garden Groundbreaking

March 20, 2009

MRS. OBAMA: Hey! How are you guys doing?

Q: Good!

MRS. OBAMA: Hi, Sam.

MR. KASS: Hello. How are you?

MRS. OBAMA: It's good to see you.

MR. KASS: Good to see you.

MRS. OBAMA: Wow, this is exciting. You guys ready -- ready to roll?

Q: Yes!

MRS. OBAMA: Wow. So this is -- this is a big day for us. We have been talking about this since we moved in, planning the White House Kitchen Garden and doing it in partnership with your schools. So I want to thank you, guys.

So first let me ask, how many people know anything about gardening? What do you know? Tell me something. What do you know about gardening?

Q: Soil, and every day you have to water it.

MRS. OBAMA: Soil, watering. What else, what else? What about you?

Q: That you have to take care of it every day.

MRS. OBAMA: You have to take care of it every day. Do you hear that, Sam?

MR. KASS: Yes, I do. (Laughter.)

MRS. OBAMA: And Dale, where are you?

What else do we know about gardening? Okay.

Q: It takes hard work.

MRS. OBAMA: It takes hard work. Good point. What about you?

Q: You have to put in mulch.

MRS. OBAMA: You have to put in mulch. Do we have mulch?

MR. KASS: Yes, we do.

MRS. OBAMA: We've got mulch. We're good to go, we're good to go.

So how many people work in the community garden at your school? Because I know that you have one.

All right. What do you do? Tell me some of the things that you do in the garden.

Q: We plant herbs.

MRS. OBAMA: What kind of herbs did you plant?

Q: Mint.

MRS. OBAMA: You know -- mint. Was mint one of them? I think we're going to do some of that.

What about you?

Q: We plant the three sisters.

MRS. OBAMA: Three sisters? What are the three sisters?

Q: Corn.


Q: Squash.

MRS. OBAMA: Squash.

Q: And beans.

MRS. OBAMA: And beans.

Are we having three sisters?

MR. KASS: Well, we're not going to have corn.

MRS. OBAMA: We're not going to do corn. We're not going to do corn.


Q: (Inaudible.)

MRS. OBAMA: Fruits. We're going to do some fruits here. We're going to do some berries.

So we're going to partner -- we're going to -- hopefully today -- well, today the plan is, is that we're going to get the soil ready, and you guys are going to help do that. We've got shovels and wheel barrels.

But in a couple of weeks we're going to have you guys come back, and then we'll be ready to actually plant the seedlings. And we're going to have some mints and we're going to have some lettuces and we're going to have some berries.

We're going to also have a beehive, because one of the gardeners here -- I'm glad you're excited, because my kids aren't very excited about the beehive. (Laughter.) But we're going to try to make our own honey here, as well.

So today is getting the soil ready. Then 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.

And joining us there will be Sam and Cris and Bill -- all those guys over there, that crew of folks who make delicious food here -- and then you'll be able to do a little cooking and eating from the White House Garden. How does that sound?

Q: Good!

MRS. OBAMA: So the whole point of this garden for us is that I want to make sure that our family, as well as the staff and all the people who come to the White House and eat our food, get access to really fresh vegetables and fruits, because what I found with my girls, who are 10 and seven, is that they like vegetables more if they taste good, right?

And when you grow something right there -- I don't know if you've eaten something from your school garden. Who's tasted something from their school garden? What do you think about the difference in the food that you eat from your garden? You think it tastes better? What about you?

Q: It looked good when you cooked it.

MRS. OBAMA: It looked good when you cooked it. So because it looked good, you wanted to what?

Q: Taste it.

MRS. OBAMA: You wanted to taste it, right. And that's what I found with my kids. Especially if they were involved in planting it and picking it, they were much more curious about giving it a try. So I've been able to have my kids eat so many different things that they would have never touched if we had bought it at a store, because they either met the farmer that grew it, or they saw how it was grown. They were curious about it, and then they tried it, and usually they liked it -- and then they'd eat more and more of it.

So that's our goal. And we want to do some education with you, guys; have you see what the White House Kitchen actually looks like, and what can you do creatively with some of these fruits and vegetables.

So we are so excited to have you here because no one has planted a garden like this since Roosevelt was President. And people have done different kinds of gardens, but this is something new and exciting, and we're all excited. Everyone at the White House is thrilled about this, and they are particularly thrilled about the fact that you guys are going to be helping us.

So are you ready to get to work?

Q: Yes!

MRS. OBAMA: All right, Sam. Tell us what we're going to do. Let's get up, get some shovels. Come on, let's go, let's go! You guys have pairs?

Q: Yes!

MRS. OBAMA: All right!

Michelle Obama, Remarks by the First Lady at the White House Garden Groundbreaking Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/320255

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