By Sara Wyant
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, March 17 – First Lady Michelle Obama, along with school children from Bancroft and Tubman elementary schools, joined forces for the third planting season of the White House Kitchen garden yesterday.  Guided by White House Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives Sam Kass, the group planted beets, broccoli, swiss chard, arugula and a wide variety of other spring vegetables.

First Lady Michelle Obama with her White House kitchen garden 2011 planting team! Photo: Agri-Pulse. 

Mrs. Obama shared that broccoli is a favorite vegetable for her daughters, Sasha and Malia, and that the president doesn't like beets.

 "But it's okay, we're an equal opportunity garden," she added.

The event showcased the 1,500 square foot garden, but also promoted healthy eating and her “Let’s Move” initiative, developed to help fight what she described as “the epidemic of child obesity.

“The fun part is that after we plant it and it starts growing, we can try this.  So maybe you will try some leeks with me,” she told the children before digging in with them to plant the vegetables.

“Family members and others need to know what you are learning,” emphasized the First Lady.  “We want you to pass this information on. Especially, go home and get your parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles to cook some vegetables to make sure you are trying new things. A lot of times they say won’t try to cook new things because you won’t eat them. So you’ve got to let them know you are ready to try new things.”

The National Park Service, which maintains the White House grounds, created raised beds for the garden this year. Many of the plants had been started in the White House greenhouse earlier in the season and staff is continuing to use some vegetable seeds saved from the gardens at President Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello. Asked if the garden, now in its third season, would be certified organic, a spokesperson said “no, we are not going to go there.”
Many of those vegetables harvested from the garden are consumed by the Obama family or  served to guests who eat at the White House. The rest of the garden harvest goes to charity.
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