'American Grown': A First Lady's Call

Rachel Catherine's picture

The white house garden is one of the most famous areas of the White House. It was started in 1800 when John Adams became president. His wife, First Lady Abigail tilled the soil and started the tradition of a White House garden. During World War II, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt added a small victory garden to set an example for the nation. Jacqueline Kennedy transformed her husband’s rose garden to become one of the most beautiful parts of the White House.

In 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama moved into the White House with a mission to make the White House garden better than it had ever been before.

Mrs. Obama’s Mission

While their husbands declared war, arranged peace treaties, went to meetings, and gave speeches, the First Ladies of our nation found ways to reflect their leadership. Eleanor Roosevelt advocated for the poor, Jacqueline Kennedy renovated the White House and was a leader in fashion, Betty Ford spoke out for women’s rights, Nancy Reagan taught children to “just say no” to drugs. Every First Lady worked hard to contribute something; something that would benefit the nation.

So, when Michelle Obama became First Lady in 2008, she plowed right ahead, ready to help the nation right alongside her husband. Mrs. Obama looked carefully at the problems facing our nation. She chose one of the biggest problems in our country: childhood obesity. Mrs. Obama vowed to advocate for healthy food choices and to encourage children to get plenty of exercise. This led her to establish the program “Let’s Move.”

“Let’s Move” and the White House Garden

“Let’s Move” is a campaign to end childhood obesity in the United States. Mrs. Obama has linked her “Let’s Move” program with the White House garden. Since 2009 she has invited schoolchildren to help her plant fruits and veggies, cooked meals with ingredients from the garden, and shown how fun eating healthy and getting outside can be.

This year, Michelle Obama took her campaign even further by releasing her book called “American Grown.” This book takes its readers through the rich history of the White House garden and provides easy, healthy recipes for parents and children alike. But Mrs. Obama’s book doesn’t end there. In her book, Mrs. Obama goes onto share success stories from all over the nation. From a sidewalk garden in Houston to a New York schools scent garden for the visually impaired.  Michelle Obama shows us that the White House garden is an important platform to end childhood obesity but, that healthy living begins in your own home.

Although every first lady has worked in the White House garden, adding a plant or two, or tending a plot of vegetables, First Lady Michelle Obama has made the role of the White House garden bigger than ever before.