Looks like spring officially has sprung — at least at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
First Lady Michelle Obama welcomed schoolchildren from around the country to the White House on Monday for the fourth annual planting of the White House garden.
Children from schools in Iowa, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. joined a New York-based Girl Scout troop to help Obama plant the garden, which includes a variety of vegetables that later will be used in the White House kitchen. The children had written to Obama to tell her about their own gardening efforts, and she invited them to the White House to help with the planting.
“I’m very proud of you all, and I’m very happy to have you here,” Obama said. “We get this done so fast because you all are here.”
Obama first planted the vegetable garden in 2009 ahead of the launch of her Let’s Move! initiative to reverse childhood obesity. It is the first garden planted at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt planted a victory garden there during World War II.
Obama told the children that planting the garden helped spark a national conversation about children’s health, especially the importance of eating fruits and vegetables.
“Vegetables and fruits are a big part of a healthy diet. A lot of times when you grow your own vegetables and fruits, they taste really good,” she said, adding that her own daughters, Malia and Sasha, became more inclined to eat produce after gardening themselves.
Obama showed off her green thumb during the event, joining a few Girl Scouts to help plant potatoes and other veggies. White House chef and policy adviser Sam Kass oversaw the planting, instructing the children and the First Lady how to plant the seeds and how much water to provide to them.
But eating healthy fruits and veggies wasn’t the only message Obama spread on Monday. She also urged the group to exercise, leading one youngster to ask whether she and the President had the Nintendo Wii game “Just Dance” at the White House.
Obama replied that she hadn’t heard of that game, but added they do have the game “Dance Dance Revolution.”
“I’m sure the Just Dance people are happy you brought it up,” Obama joked. “You should give her some commission or something.”
Obama isn’t the only one using a garden to help combat childhood obesity, of course.
Are you planning to plant a garden this spring to help combat obesity, either at home or in your local community? Be sure to tell us about it in the comments below.