Michelle Obama photo

Remarks by the First Lady at the White House Garden Planting

April 09, 2009

MRS. OBAMA: Well, hello! Hi, Sam, how are you? Wow, look at this. This is a big difference. How are you guys doing?


MRS. OBAMA: Well, welcome to the White House -- the White House Kitchen Garden. This is pretty exciting, right?


MRS. OBAMA: Well, who -- how many of you were here the last time to help us? Oh, you guys were all here. I thought I saw some familiar faces. So you know what we're doing -- this is part two. What are we going to do today?

CHILDREN: Planting.

MRS. OBAMA: We're going to plant the seeds. And I want to introduce you to Secretary Vilsack, who is the head of the Department of Agriculture. He's going to talk in a minute about some of the programs he's going to do for your school lunches.

But first, one thing I want to let you know -- I don't know if you were paying attention, but the President and I, we went on this long trip. We were in many, many countries -- we were in Europe. And the number one question I got as the First Lady from world leaders -- they were all excited about this garden.

Every single person, from Prince Charles on down, they were excited about the fact that we were planting a garden, because in many countries they really believe in the importance of planting and growing your own food. So they were fascinated and grateful to all of you for helping make this possible.

So what I want to ask again -- why do you -- why is this so important? Why do you think it's important for us to plant this garden?


CHILD: Because it's been since -- a long time since Roosevelt planted --

MRS. OBAMA: That's a good -- we have a historical perspective. It's been a very long time since a garden was planted, since the time of Roosevelt. This is a young historian here. That's true.

What about you, young lady? What do you think? Why is this important?

CHILD: So you can be healthy.

MRS. OBAMA: So you can be healthy. So why do you think fruits and vegetables are important to health? Yes.

CHILD: (Inaudible.)

MRS. OBAMA: Fruits and vegetables have nutrients and vitamins, yes.

CHILD: Energy?

MRS. OBAMA: Energy. Energy, absolutely. Any other? You, young man.

CHILD: It can make you strong.

MRS. OBAMA: It can make you strong -- yes, absolutely. This is one of the main reasons we're doing this, is that what I've learned as a mom, in trying to feed my girls, is that it is so important for them to get regular fruits and vegetables in their diets, because it does have nutrients, it does make you strong, it is all brain food. And when you go to school, it is so important for you to have a good breakfast, to make sure in your lunches that you have an apple or an orange or a banana, that you have something green when you eat any meal, lunch or dinner.

And we're looking to you guys to help educate the country, not just in your own homes, but other people as they think about how to plan their meals for their kids, to think about the importance of making sure that we have enough fruits and vegetables. And doing this garden is a really inexpensive way of making that happen.

Do you know how much -- I mean, look how big this garden is. Do you know how much it costs to just do this? And we're going to have carrots and spinach and herbs and berries. We're going to have a ton of stuff in this garden. How much do you think it costs to do this garden? How much?

CHILD: Over $100,000.

MRS. OBAMA: Over $100,000. (Laughter.) My husband would go crazy -- (laughter) -- if he thought we were spending that kind of money. No, a little lower than that. How much do you think? You.

CHILD: I think $5,000?

MRS. OBAMA: $5,000? No, a little lower. Yes.

CHILD: $1,000?

MRS. OBAMA: $1,000? No.

CHILD: $200.

MRS. OBAMA: $200 -- it doesn't -- it hasn't cost us more than $200 to plant this.

CHILD: $100?

MRS. OBAMA: It's about $100 -- it's between $100 and $200. So it's not a lot of money. And this garden can not only feed my family, but it's going to feed all the staff at the White House. We're going to use these vegetables to help feed you guys. We're going to serve it at some State Dinners. So with this little plot of land -- and this is a big plot; you don't even have to plant this much -- we can produce enough fruits and vegetables to feed us for years and years to come -- for just a couple of hundred dollars. Now, isn't that amazing?

So we're looking to you guys to help us make it happen. So we're going to plant the seedlings today. And then in a few months, hopefully right around the time you get out of school, you can come and help us harvest the fruits and vegetables, and come into the White House with all of our chefs and start doing a little cooking. How does that sound?


MRS. OBAMA: Well, thank you guys for coming back again. I hope you had fun the first time. You guys are weather producers because you have brought another perfect day. Thank you for that. And now I'm going to turn it over to Secretary Vilsack, who is going to talk a little bit about some of the programs he's doing especially for school lunch programs.

Secretary Vilsack. (Applause.)

Michelle Obama, Remarks by the First Lady at the White House Garden Planting Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/320198

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