Michelle Obama to grow White House organic victory garden

ABC News has reported the Obamas are going to plant a vegetable garden at the White House*. The New York Times also announced that work on the organic garden will begin as early as tomorrow when Michelle Obama, accompanied by 23 fifth graders from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, will begin digging up a section of the White House lawn to begin planting. Although the 1,100 square foot garden, set to be located in the south grounds, will be out of the main view of the house, it will still be visible to the public on E Street.

First Lady Michelle Obama recently told Oprah‘s O magazine about her garden plans:

We want to use it as a point of education, to talk about health and how delicious it is to eat fresh food, and how you can take that food and make it part of a healthy diet. You know, the tomato that’s from your garden tastes very different from one that isn’t. And peas – what is it like to eat peas in season? So we want the White House to be a place of education and awareness. And hopefully kids will be interested because there are kids living here.

Who will take care of the garden?
In addition to the White House grounds crew and kitchen staff, Michelle mentioned to The New York Times that nearly all family members will play a part in maintaining the garden.

Almost the entire Obama family, including the president, will pull weeds, “whether they like it or not,” Mrs. Obama said laughing. “Now Grandma, my mom, I don’t know.” Her mother, she said, would probably sit back and say: “Isn’t that lovely. You missed a spot.”

What will they grow?
The 1,100 square foot plot will feature a wide variety of vegetables, herbs and fruits to include 55 varieties of vegetables, a patch of berries and two bee hives for honey. The organic seedlings will be started at the executive mansion’s greenhouses. “Total cost for the seeds, mulch, etc., is $200.”

The organic garden will feature raised beds “fertilized with White House compost, crab meal from the Chesapeake Bay, lime and green sand. Ladybugs and praying mantises will help control harmful bugs.”

Organic seedlings? White House compost? Natural pest control? I’m sorry, but I know I’m not the only one who is absolutely ecstatic over all of this?! 🙂

In fact, groups like Eat The View and The WHO (White House Organic) Farm, as well as author Michael Pollan and chef Alice Waters, have been advocating for a White House garden pretty much from the time President Barack Obama was inaugurated and I bet they are all whooping it up right about now.

What will they do with all of that food?
Eat it, of course. The White House chefs will be planning the menu around the garden. Eating locally and in season? Aiiiieee! Be still my heart!

This is not the first time a vegetable garden has been planted at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Eleanor Roosevelt had a Victory Garden planted in 1943 during World War II and there were gardens before that as well.

Hopefully the Obama’s new garden will inspire the people of our country to begin growing even little bits of their own food. Gardens come in all shapes and sizes – from little pots in a window, to bigger pots on a balcony or porch, to a little raised bed in the sunny spot in your backyard, to a community garden plot, to a much bigger plot. Every little bit helps us live more sustainably, protect our food supply, and reduce our carbon footprint. Perhaps sweetest of all, food grown in your own backyard tastes so much better because it’s fresh and hasn’t made a week or two-week long journey half-way around the world!

What do you think? Will the new victory garden start a resurgence in gardening in America? Has that resurgence already begun? Have you planted a garden in the past? If not, do you plan on it this year?

*Thanks to Nature Deva for the tip-off!

47 thoughts on “Michelle Obama to grow White House organic victory garden”

  1. How cool! There’s nothing I love more than seeing lush green gardens in the city. Even better is turning gray space into green space. We are looking forward to a move this spring where I will finally get back to gardening the way I love. It’s perfect timing because Liv can now help me dig and plant and eat all the crunchy veggies. Food for the soul.

  2. This is great news! I hope they keep it going the whole time they are living there. I hope the media really exposes this, so that more folks will follow example!

  3. Lawsee mercy! Get me my smelling salts, I’m about to faint! Thanks for doing the original research on who’ll be doing the weeding, and what/how they are growing.

    I so excited!

  4. I’m glad you were able to find more about this – because last I’d been able to find Mrs. Obama would be “overseeing” the project and gardeners would be doing most of the work. Now, I didn’t truly expect the “First Family” to be doing all of the work – I just didn’t want the media to be saying they are the ones planting it and gardening in it if they weren’t, really, doing the work.

    Do I expect them to do *everything*? No way – obviously the President has a job to do lol – but I did hope this wouldn’t just be something that was organized and delegated to somebody else after the initial warm fuzzies were in the news. Or that if that’s what it was, it’d be clearly stated. 😉

    Either way, I AM very excited about this. I signed a petition for it to be considered and I’m glad they are doing it. I believe that our country would be much better off if there was a resurgence of a LOT of the WWII programs for self-sufficiency, most especially the Victory Garden.

  5. I was SO excited when I heard this on the news last night. Now all the details are great, too! I’m having my botany students read about it and write reflections in their journals. Perhaps I’ll have them write letters to the Obama family with advice and suggestions for plant varieties.

  6. Greenhouses are already there and they are putting in 2 bee hives! A huge garden and making their own honey too! Alison is right, all they need are some chickens and maybe they will get some next year! I love our first family 🙂

  7. You are not the only one that excited! I’ve been on cloud nine all day despite bad news in other spheres. Nothing can bring me down. There will be an organic edible garden on the White House lawn. Woooohooooo!

  8. I’m glad she’s continuing the tradition of eating organic in the White House that Laura Bush began, she’s quite crunchy herself:)

  9. I’m THRILLED this is happening! I adored Michelle Obama before, but I really worship her now.

    So glad they took the cue from all the petitions and wesbites and chefs/nutritionists urging them to do so.

    Let’s all plant extra rows, to try to make up for what food banks are lacking.

  10. I think this is so great. I’m not sure if it will inspire others to start growing food, but it certainly can’t hurt. And I think it’s even better that they’re modeling organic and sustainable methods, to boot. 🙂

  11. Such great news! We too at KIWI are thrilled about this. I especially love that the garden cost $200 to set up–a great example that you can eat healthfully, locally, and sustainably without being super rich.

  12. this is very exciting! i started petitioning for this with kitchen garden international back during the primaries, and it’s encouraging to see the result! i know for a fact that gardens have made a resurgance in the last 2years or so. i’ve been following the info from seed companies and how they’ve really increased sales. especially this year! however, i think the obama’s doing it on the lawn will really encourage more urban gardening. we garden out in the open on our front lawn and in our small town it gets lots of attention. i can only imagine the attention the first family will get! it’s all very exciting!

  13. I hope it does inspire folks to try something themselves.

    According to some garden centres over here, their sales have increased up to 400% as a result of a) the recession and b) the promotion towards local/sustainable/organic food. I think that’s cool.

  14. Really suprised to see Ms Obama start an old-school garden that wastes water, offers poor yields, promotes topsoil erosion, and reduces oxygen producing grass.

    Its a shame that they didn’t read on modern gardening and install a nice square-foot garden. A square-foot garden uses 20% of the space and 10% of the water of a traditional garden, but with 100% of the yield. Not to mention they look far nicer.


    Its much easier to convince Americans to install a 3- or 4-foot box of food than the monstrosity they’re building in the South Lawn. Especially since theres no digging or tilling involved.

    Also, the WH garden is not organic as it doen’t meet federal standards for organic. Use of the the term organic by the WH is likely a violation of federal law.

  15. This is absolutely brilliant. I hope that it inspires many people, of all income levels and with all sorts of living spaces to grow a little bit to eat.

    We’ve joined a CSA again this year, but will be filling our little suburban garden with bigger plants: squash, pumpkins, etc.

    Everyone can grow their own and it’s SO cheap and takes very little time or know how!

    Great post.

  16. I love the idea of the garden on the White House grounds, the educational aspect for children, and most of all, I love Michelle, awesome arms and all!

    I know they’re using organic seeds, compost, etc., etc., and not to be a naysayer, but I’m wondering how it can truly be organic when I’m sure all kinds of chemicals have been used over the years to keep that brilliant green lawn!

    Not to take away from all the fun and good stuff going on . . .

  17. That’s kind of ironic considering there is a bill in danger of being passed in congress that could end the farmers markets in this nation. It is H.R. 875

    Representative Rosa L. DeLauro (D – CT) is the woman who sponsored Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009 HR875:

    1. Her husband, Stan Greenberg, has MONSANTO as a client.
    2. She received $180k in donations from agribusiness PAC’s.
    3. She’s pals with Rahm Emanuel.

    Considering the above points and the fact that there are 39 cosponsors and a Democrat majority, this could be a tough battle.


    Monsanto’s dream bill, HR 875

    Codex Alimentarius: Population Control Under the Guise of Consumer Protection

    Food Safety and Tracking Improvement Act S424 and Food Safety Modernization
    Act of 2009 HR875.

    These latest food Bills do NOT have our safety in mind. This is a move to obtain tyrannical control of the food supply.

    Please do not support these Bills. They are NOT truly public safety related. They are designed to benefit large agribusiness and hurt small farming.

  18. I personally think that this is a great idea and finally some positive, natural and organic news from the White House! I’ve been googling around and eventually found not only the layout of the garden but also this web site that sells a version of the Obama garden – the scaled layout and all the seeds that come with it. So I guess even I could plant one too!

    Here’s a 10×10 version and I think they also sell 10×15…


  19. @Colleen D.

    HR 875 would not only do no such thing, it has nothing whatsoever to do with Monsanto. People would be wiser to actually read – and comprehend – a proposed bill before just taking a post by someone with known agendas verbatim as gospel. In fact, precisely because of those nonsensical rantings, the draft of the bill is being revised to make it much more clear for those who can’t quite grasp the meaning of the word “exclusion” as it appeared in the first draft of the bill.

    For the rest: I love the idea of a garden at the White House. It isn’t always just about the products that come out of it. It’s also about the symbolism and example it creates. Plus, there’s nothing like snacking on something right out in the garden while pulling weeds here and there.

  20. I think it’s great on so many levels.
    I just wish the kids helping keep it up from the elementary school would get to eat it’s bounty too. It seems unfair to bring them in, let them work in it, teach them how wonderful it could be and then use the food only for the white house.
    Although, maybe the kids will get to take some home and share their work with their family, which would make this whole set-up probably as close to perfect as it can get!

  21. I too am happy about the garden at the White House. As a full time organic poultry and vegetable farmer I appreciate the symbolism it represents. I cannot however understand how they get away with calling the WH garden organic! It takes lots of paperwork and at least 3 years free from chemicals applied to the ground to be able to be called organic. The WH garden is now found to contain high levels of lead due to sludge being applied by the Clinton admin. Sorry, but no way is application of sludge an organic practice.
    Also anyone that has ever planted a garden knows it takes LOTS of time and some knowledge to make it grow. I wish everyone would plant a garden to see the amount of work it takes to keep it weed and insect free without chemicals.

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