This week, first lady Michelle Obama hosted students from four schools at the White House.
But this was not your average tour of the executive branch. These students got unrestricted access to one of the first lady’s favorite spots: the White House Kitchen Garden.
The garden is the first built on the White House grounds since Eleanor Roosevelt’s famous Victory Garden during World War II. The garden quickly became a passion project for Mrs. Obama and inspired her Let’s Move campaign to teach kids about staying active and eating fresh fruits and veggies.
With help from the first lady, students pulled peppers, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, and even peanuts from the garden.
And, this year, for the first time ever, the harvest went high tech.
As part of their new Expeditions Pioneer Program, a team from Google attended to shoot a virtual tour of the White House Kitchen Garden. Which means that, soon, kids from coast to coast can learn more about backyard agriculture and the importance of eating fresh fruits and vegetables thanks to the handy power of the Internet.
Of course, it wasn’t all work. The students also had time to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor.
After a busy harvest, the students sat down to lunch with the first lady. Together, they made a kitchen garden vegetable salad bowl with zesty chicken, quinoa, and farro (it’s a mouthful to say and to eat!) from some of the greens and veggies pulled from the garden.
Students have always played a big role in the White House Kitchen Garden.
The first lady broke ground and planted the garden with students in the spring of 2009, just months after taking up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The White House Kitchen Garden has since expanded to include a wide array of deliciousness, including herbs, lettuce, collard greens, carrots, peas, flowers, and a beehive. Every summer and fall, students lend a hand.
Chefs in the White House frequently prepare meals using crops from the garden and even brew beer with honey from the hive. The Obamas also donate fruits and veggies to Miriam’s Kitchen, which serves people experiencing homelessness in Washington, D.C.
Want to see the garden for yourself? You can!
If you just can’t wait for Google’s virtual walk-through, make plans to see the real thing.
Tours of the White House Kitchen Garden are free and available to school and community groups with an interest in gardening or cooking with fruits and vegetables. Groups need to sign up in advance, and due to the number of requests, not every group can be accommodated.
But if you want to see how the first family eats, there’s no better way.