Top White House garden tender Sam Kass attributed this past Winter's success to plastic hoophouses, which trapped daytime heat to prevent freezing at night. He also revealed that the Spring garden will produce leeks, garlic, and peas, and that the garden is being expanded at the request of First Lady Michelle Obama. Learn more, after the jump.
A jet-lagged Michelle Obama slipped on brown-and-white gardening gloves (no, we don't know where to find them) and went to work on the South Lawn's garden yesterday. With the help of 25 beshoveled schoolchildren, she planted perennials, herbs, vegetables, and fruits. If all goes well, the assistant chef said the White House could be serving blueberries by June.
World leaders are très excité for the victory garden. "How does your garden grow?" (bad translation) was the number one question she was asked abroad. "Every single person," the first lady said, "from Prince Charles on down, they were excited about the fact that we were planting a garden." Can't blame 'em. I mean, blueberries! They're like crazy expensive in Europe.
Taking a cue from Michelle Obama, Maria Shriver, first lady of California, is spearheading a victory garden for California. Edible garden beds will be planted in May in Capitol Park in Sacramento.
“I’m so excited to be joining California Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura, the California Department of General Services, the California School Garden Network, Alice Waters, and many others to bring an edible garden to the state capitol, Shriver said in a statement."This new garden will bring awareness to children, students, and visitors about the important role of food, where it comes from, nutritional value, how it is grown and harvested, and ultimately how it reaches the tables of those who need it most."
The Capitol Park plot, where the garden will be planted, was originally a flower bed, and will be easily converted into the edible garden. The design will focus on water conservation. It is likely that the food from the garden will go to an area food bank, similar to the use of produce from San Francisco's edible garden. Baltimore's City Hall is also planting a victory garden this Spring. Are any city or state buildings near your home planning a victory garden?
Word on the street is that President Obama doesn't like beets. His aversion to this veggie is so strong that beets were not planted in the first lady's victory garden. Similar to the broccoli debacle that marred George Bush, Sr.'s nutrition record, beet advocates are up in arms about the president's dislike of the red root veggie. I am impressed that the garden includes the main ingredient of salsa verde, the tomatillo, as well as chard and Thai basil, and I understand that not every type of produce can make it into the garden. There was a period in my life where I avoided beets myself, but I have learned to love them. Roasted, they make great side dish or topping on a salad. Grated finely, raw beets make a colorful garnish.
You can eat both the leaves and the roots of a beet, so they are a two-for-one kind of plant. High in folate, beets are also high in betaine, which works with folate to help reduce inflammatory compounds that can damage your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. Plus, the pigment that gives beets their crimson color has been identified as a potent cancer fighter in laboratory mice. Since beets offer all these health benefits, maybe our president will give beets another try? Although, it seems like he already has a lot on his plate.
Which side of the line do you fall on? Are you pro-beets, or anti?
Today, US First Lady Michelle Obama, along with elementary school students, took part in the ground breaking of the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn. This is the first kitchen garden on the White House lawn since First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt planted a victory garden during World War II. Victory gardens are vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens that were planted at home residences during World War I and II to increase families' food supplies during the days of rationing and boost morale. From the Iraq war to the financial crisis, there are plenty of reasons to start a victory garden right now so, if you're up for the task, check out my tips for starting your own.
Today is the day that Alice Waters and other Slow Food supporters have been waiting for: the Obamas will begin planting a garden on the White House lawn, the first such victory garden to be created since the one Eleanor Roosevelt planted during World War II.
The garden, which will be overseen by Sam Kass, the Obamas' former private chef from Chicago, will provide food for the first family's meals and formal dinners. White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford will write menus based on what's available in the garden.
According to First Lady Michelle Obama, the biggest reason for growing a garden is to educate children about the benefits of growing fresh produce locally. She said:
There’s nothing really cooler than coming to the White House and harvesting some of the vegetables and being in the kitchen with Cris and Sam and Bill, and cutting and cooking and actually experiencing the joys of your work.
The first lady, who will dig up soil for the 1,100-square-foot plot of land with fifth graders from a local elementary school, has stressed the significance of healthful eating ever since entering the White House. Last month, she opened up the White House kitchen for a press tour, and recently spoke about the importance of fresh, local eating.
Advocates of farm-to-table eating have been campaigning for a White House edible garden for months now, and there is little doubt that many eat-local proponents consider this to be a huge step in the right direction. To see what fruits and vegetables will be in the White House garden, read more
- Find out why crustaceans turn pink when cooked.
- Find out why crustaceans turn pink when cooked. — The Kitchn
- Take a virtual field trip to a tomato farm. — Chow
- Would you eat crispy fried chicken skins? — Serious Eats
- San Francisco says goodbye to the victory garden. — Eater SF
- Chocolate covered marshmallows are a delightful edible gift. — Baking Bites
- Love to entertain? Submit your holiday party ideas to win a $2,500 prize! — Hostess with the Mostess
- Epicurious predicts the top 10 food trends for 2009. — The Epi-Log
Last month, right before Slow Food Nation, PartySugar helped harvest the newly planted Victory Gardens in downtown San Francisco. Apparently the success of the public garden was so strong that various groups are taking the matter to the White House — both metaphorically and literally.
Several organizations are campaigning for the next president to create a garden on the White House lawn. TheWhoFarmMobile has been on tour throughout the United States spreading the word and encouraging participation.
Eat the View has drafted a White House Food Garden petition online, and is even holding a "lawn sale," where buyers can purchase (symbolic) parcels of White House lawn ($10 each) that will go toward the edible garden project.
Seeing as the future president will have a lot on his plate, I'm not sure whether this proposal will prove successful, but I intend to follow it. I think the president growing an edible garden would set the tone for the rest of the country. What do you think of the venture? Do you see one candidate being more open to the project than another?
- Decorate your kitchen with these kitschy, retro-glam finds. — Hostess with the Mostess
- Make gourmet coffee at home. — Slashfood
- New to cooking? Check a beginner cookbook out of your library. — Chow
- Just how good are Starbucks's smoothies? — Baking Bites
- Get to know David Chang of Momofuku fame a little better. — Serious Eats
- Take a look at San Francisco's just-planted Slow Food Nation Victory Garden. — CasaSugar
- Cookthink gets a stylish new makeover. — Cookthink
- Learn how to make crispy and delicious fried green tomatoes. — The Kitchn
- Help McDonald's name its new dollar menu. — The Epi-Log
- Calling all New Yorkers: be on the lookout for the filming of Top Chef Season 5! — Eater
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to spend all day weeding garden beds, helping fix irrigation lines, and water seedlings in a 10,000-square-foot garden. But I wasn't on a rural organic farm, I was in front of City Hall in San Francisco.
Just last week, over 150 volunteers rolled up a huge swath of sod in front of City Hall, and over a few days, established this 10,000-square-foot edible garden. All of the organic garden beds are planted in rice straw wattles, which are essentially long tubes of rice straw. The project, called the Slow Food Nation Victory Garden, is open to the public from July 13 to Sept. 21. Stocked with beautiful, edible vegetables and native, drought-resistant Bay Area plants, the garden provides visitors with an up-close look at gardening, as well as inspiration for creating their own garden.
To find out more about the Victory Garden, read more