The White House Garden

By Pamela A. Williams, MPH, R.D.

Photo by Pexel

When most of us think of the White House in Washington D.C., we often think of their affairs separate from ours. It is rare that our pathways will intersect with a visit to the White House but I had a chance to experience that rare moment.  

One morning, as I reviewed articles and my Twitter account, there was a request for those interested to submit 140 words or less describing why they should be among those to take the White House Fall Garden Tour. This tour would include a visit to the White House Kitchen Garden. Without thinking much about being chosen, I quickly wrote how it would enhance my work of teaching kids, parents and others about fruits and vegetables.

Three weeks later, I received an invitation to attend and I was elated! Along with 49 others, I showed up to the security gate and had an experience I will never forget.

The weather was cool, gray and rainy. We all had our raincoats, umbrellas, cameras and sharp minds ready to take it all in. We visited the Rose Garden, The Jacqueline Kennedy Garden and of course, the White House Kitchen Garden.

This 1,700 square foot garden is located on the front lawn and is a good walk from the White House. Just before we got to the garden, we detoured and visited the beehive. There is only one beehive but it produces about 170 pounds of honey a year! The White House chefs use the honey whenever they can to replace sugar.

The garden was beautiful. Small plots were aesthetically arranged and I saw bell peppers, different kinds of lettuce like red leaf and butter lettuce, broccoli, chard, pac choi and so much more. They have even managed to grow a papaya tree and this year yields their third crop. I especially appreciated the herb section of the garden. The chefs often come and get fresh herbs to prepare foods for the president and his family and for state dinners.

Who gets to pick what grows there? The chefs learn what fruits and vegetables the family likes to eat and in turn talk to the gardeners to determine what they can grow in each season. The excess produce is donated to the soup kitchens within the D.C. area.

It is great to see that our leaders of the United States are making fruits and vegetables a priority in their diets. This garden serves as an icon to inspire us to buy and/or grow fresh produce and make them a part of our diets. This garden also fits nicely with the first lady’s program, “Let’s Move!” Mrs. Michelle Obama’s living message is simple but strong:  Eat well and get physically active.

I have never gardened before and this trip to the White House Kitchen Garden has inspired me to grow my first garden. I’m planting carrots and tomatoes and I’m planning to make a delicious salad with my first harvest. Why not grab a patch or a pot and join me!