Don’t you just love waking up to good news on the front page of the newspaper? Spring is officially here and and Michelle Obama celebrated by inviting twenty-three fifth graders to help begin digging up a section of the South Lawn at the White House for an organic vegetable garden. This is the first time such a garden has existed since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden during World War II. The White House garden symbolizes a simple, rewarding action that many people can take, either in their own yard or by taking part in a community garden. The Obamas are sending a powerful message of concern during a time of economic and environmental crisis by setting an example that will no doubt inspire gardens all over the US.
The White House plot will be 1,100 square feet with raised beds filled with 55 different fruits and vegetables, including a variety of lettuces, spinach, chard, collards and kale. DC gets plenty of hot weather during the summer and the Obamas love Mexican food so there will be tomatoes, tomatillos and hot peppers. The White House executive chef, Cristeta Comerford has no doubt requested a variety herbs on her wish list. The pastry chef, Bill Yosses, will make delicious use of the blueberries, raspberries & blackberries. There will even be two hives for honey since a White House carpenter, Charlie Brandts, is a beekeeper. For a detailed drawing of the garden layout, click here.
Organic seedlings are being grown at the White House greenhouses while fertilizer will include White House compost, crab meal from the Chesapeake Bay, lime and green sand. The President and the kids aren’t going to just sit back and watch the groundskeepers tend the garden. Michelle says that the entire family will help pull weeds, “whether they like it or not. ” Several other staff members have volunteered to help. After all, this garden is not just for show. The plan is to provide food for the first family’s meals and for formal dinners. Michelle is committed to teaching her own girls about eating healthy, local food as well as educating other children who will hopefully take the knowledge into their own families and communities.
If you look at the garden layout, you’ll see four beds of spinach. Michelle reportedly loves this spinach puree recipe by Cristeta Comerford. I thought I’d give it a try.
No-Cream Creamed Spinach
2 lbs. washed baby spinach
4 minced shallots
2 minced cloves of garlic
2 T olive oil
Salt & freshly ground pepper
Blanch 1/2 lb spinach in salted boiling water. Immediately plunge spinach in ice water. Drain and squeeze out excess water. Puree in a blender. Set aside.
In a large skillet, sweat the shallots and garlic in oil until translucent. Add the rest of the spinach leaves. Toss and saute until wilted. Fold in the puree. Season with salt & pepper.
Over 83,000 people signed the petition at Eat the View to encourage the Obamas to plant a victory garden at the White House.
For more info on the White House Garden check out this article from the NY Times — Obamas to Eat Local Fare, Very Local.