Preserving the White House Kitchen Garden by Susan Harris
The White House Kitchen Garden was in the news last week, as Michelle Obama dedicated the garden and unveiled other “updates” made to preserve the garden. Via the White House:
Making the garden even more accessible to kids and world leaders alike, the updates include establishing a revised layout with a new threshold, an entryway with an arbor, a wider walkway, and a gathering area with a table and benches. Underneath the new arbor rests an inscription stone, which reads:
WHITE HOUSE KITCHEN GARDEN
established in 2009 by First Lady Michelle Obama
with the hope of growing a healthier nation for our children
Still, there’s concern and speculation about the fate of the garden, with ABC News noting the food preferences of the Clintons and Trumps:
As first lady, Clinton directed chef Walter Scheib to bring “contemporary American cuisine and nutritionally responsible food to the White House,” Scheib later wrote. There was even a small garden on the White House roof for growing produce, according to Scheib, who died in 2015.
Trump, for his part, loves red meat and is proud to patronize McDonald’s and KFC.
There have been lots more news stories about this, but for details of interest to gardeners, let’s go to this story from the University of Virginia where a team from its School of Architecture designed the new layout, bluestone terrace, arbor, table and benches.
I love that the new table
includes wood from “sites like Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, James Madison’s Montpelier, James Monroe’s home at Ash Lawn-Highland, and Martin Luther King’s birthplace in Atlanta. Other wood came from a heritage Osage orange tree on an Albemarle County farm that dates to the time when Meriwether Lewis and William Clark gave Jefferson seeds and seedlings collected during their cross-country expedition. The Osage orange tree, native to Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma, was frequently used to create agricultural hedgerows across the Midwest.
Burpee Steps Up
Gardeners know that improvements are great but the future of any garden is in its maintenance. To that end, the Burpee Foundation and the W. Atlee Burpee Company have donated $2.5 million to ensure that the garden is maintained. Here’s Burpee owner George Ball with a replica of the White House Kitchen Garden; he’s been a fan of the garden from its launch.
More White House Garden Stuff
The White House released this video of the last fall harvest of the Obama administration, which the president attended.
And for you podcast listeners, Slate’s year-long series of interviews with people who work at the White House includes one with supervisory Horticulturist Jim Adams, in which we learn that his glamorous job duties include snow-removal and even trash collection. Here’s Jim chatting with me at a White House Garden Tour in 2011.
(Table photo by its designer, Roger Sherry.)