20 Mar 2009 Source: Reuters
WASHINGTON, March 20 (Reuters) - First Lady Michelle Obama broke ground on a new White House vegetable garden on Friday, digging a plot on the mansion's south lawn to help provide her children and visitors with fresh, healthy food.
Obama, who has made a point of reaching out to the local Washington community since her husband's inauguration, gathered about two dozen local school school children to dig up the patch, which will be the first vegetable garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt planted a "victory garden" during World War Two.
"I want to make sure that our family, as well as the staff and all the people who come to the White House and eat our food, get access to really fresh vegetables and fruits," Obama said.
"What I found with my girls, who are 10 and seven, is that they like vegetables more if they taste good."
She said they were also going to have a beehive -- an idea that did not thrill daughters Sasha and Malia.
"My kids aren't very excited about the beehive," she said. "But we're going to try to make our own honey here."
The garden, which will be organic, will be planted later in the spring and will include berries and mint in addition to vegetables. It is being started as the country faces an epidemic of obesity and diabetes.
Sam Kass, an assistant chef, said the White House hoped to have a year-round garden and planned to share some of the produce with a local soup kitchen.
Spinach, peas, fennel and squash would all feature in the garden, he said. The garden will produce up to as many as 55 different fruits and vegetables.
The garden was hailed as a victory by Kitchen Gardeners International, an organization of gardeners who promote home-grown food, which attracted some 100,000 people to sign its online petition asking the Obamas to plant a vegetable garden at the White House.
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