Grow Your Own White House Garden


You can’t get any more local than your own kitchen garden.

Already popular with anyone with a hankering for freshness, superior taste, good health and nutrition, and saving money— which pretty much includes everyone— interest in kitchen gardens really took off when Michelle Obama oversaw the planting of the first White House vegetables since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden during World War II. Even Queen Elizabeth II succumbed to the ‘Michelle factor’ ordering a yard bed for Buckingham Palace.

Last year’s White House kitchen garden yielded about 1,000 pounds of produce, mainly vegetables and berries. Some was was used by White House chefs for the First Family’s table and official White House functions and gifts. Most of the produce was sent to local food pantries and shelters serving meals to the Washington-area homeless population.

You too can grow a White House kitchen garden.

OK, not exactly. I don’t imagine you have a handy staff of gardeners and horticulturalists. And you probably won’t be advised by the likes of Alice Waters and Michael Pollan. But you can start your garden with very same seeds the White House used; heirloom seeds with their own presidential pedigree.

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation sells a White House Garden Seed Sampler with heritage varieties coming from Jefferson’s historic Monticello plantation, and the White House Garden Cookbook, so you know what to do with Jefferson’s Tennis Ball Lettuce, Prickly Seeded Spinach, and Whippoorwill Cowpeas.

The view is a little different from your backyard, and the Wright Brothers never demoed the miracle of flight on your lawn, but your garden can look just like Michelle’s with this map of the White House kitchen garden as your planting guide.

Connect with a like-minded community through your local chapter (they call them ‘pods’) of the global organization Kitchen Gardeners. Together you can celebrate World Kitchen Garden Day. This year it’s August 22.

Follow the White House growing season and harvest with Obama Foodorama, a fascinating blog that follows national food initiatives and Obama family meals.


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6 Responses to Grow Your Own White House Garden

  1. Interesting topic. The White House Garden certainly is a welcome site. Now if more and more people would begin taking the initiative to eat and grow more fresh produce the U.S. would be a healthier nation. Dawn and I definitely enjoyed your Philly weather while we were there and wouldn’t mind visiting again. All kinds of good eats are available all over town.

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  3. What a fun and inspirational post:)

  4. Nice idea and encouragement! We have a small plot in a community garden and our carrots really took off! They are beautiful although not ready for another couple of weeks. It’s fun to do.

  5. bunkycooks says:

    I can’t get past the picture. That was clever. 🙂

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