The White House Kitchen Garden
First Lady Michelle Obama planted the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn in the spring of 2009 to initiate a national conversation around the health and wellbeing of our country. In time, that conversation led to Let's Move!, which Mrs. Obama launched in 2010 to help kids and families lead healthier lives.
On March 20, 2009, the First Lady, with the assistance of local schoolchildren, broke ground on the southwest end of the South Lawn to prepare for the White House Kitchen Garden. On April 9, 2009, students came back to help the First Lady plant the garden for the first time. It is the first major vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden during World War II. It is also part of a long history of growing food on the White House grounds.
The garden has provided fresh, seasonal produce for the First Family, guests at White House events, and for those in need in the local community. Students from across the country helped Mrs. Obama plant and harvest the garden throughout President Obama’s Administration.
Continuous improvements were made to the garden since its inception. For example, in 2014, a pollinator garden was planted next to the Kitchen Garden to support bees, monarch butterflies, and other pollinators as part of the Administration’s efforts to promote pollinator health. There is a beehive near the garden that was put in place in 2009 and is the first documented beehive on the South Lawn. In addition, the garden has grown in size over the years from its original 1,100 square feet to now approximately 2,800 square feet.
During her final year in the White House, Mrs. Obama dedicated the garden and unveiled several updates, including the addition of a wider walkway and an arbor, table, and benches made of recycled or salvaged wood from the estates of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and Martin Luther King, Jr., in addition to other locations throughout the U.S.
For more information on the history of growing food on the White House grounds and the evolution of the White House Kitchen Garden, visit: go.nps.gov/WHKitchenGarden.
Inspired by the First Lady's passion for healthy living, people across the country have revisited the American tradition of starting a vegetable garden at home. Growing your own fruits and vegetables is a great way to learn where food comes from, spend time with others and incorporate healthy foods into your favorite meals. Even if you don't consider yourself a Master Gardener, you can harvest your own produce at school, in your backyard, or around the community.
Students and teachers across the country have already begun using their school gardens for benefits that go beyond the classroom. In this hands-on learning environment, students care for and watch their vegetables grow plus they have fun eating the fruits of their labor. Programs like the Healthier US School Challenge help to promote healthier schools and healthier kids. By planting a school garden with them you can start your students on a healthier path, too.
Ready to start your own school garden? The first step is finding the best location. Tarmac, dry earth, mud and empty fields can be turned into green grounds, outdoor laboratories, vegetable plots, herb gardens, play spaces and study areas.
Ready to start your own garden in the window sill or your backyard? Involve your whole family each step of the way in preparing and planting a vegetable garden for your home -- selecting seeds, tending the garden, and enjoying delicious meals around the dinner table. Not only will you enjoy memorable moments together as a family, you will also be getting active and eating healthy too.
The United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) People's Garden initiative has grown into a collaborative effort of local and national organizations all working together to establish community and school gardens. People from states across the country share their successes, trials-and-errors, and great photos with a network of supporters.
Because they benefit the community, are collaborative efforts, and incorporate sustainable practices, community gardens are assets that benefit entire neighborhoods, cities, and towns. There are thousands of community gardens across the country -- are you ready to start yours? Begin by bringing people and different organizations together to learn which issues are important to your community.
Check out these videos that take you inside the White House Kitchen Garden:
Actors, athletes, Girl Scouts and top chefs -- the White House Kitchen Garden has seen them all. Check out these other videos highlighting the garden throughout the seasons.
- 2010 Spring Garden Planting
- Harvesting the Winter Garden (2010)
- In the Garden: The First Lady Talks Health & Nutrition
- Three Sisters Garden Planting and Harvest (2011)
- 2014 Spring Garden Planting
- 2016 Fall Garden Harvest