Shortly after Barack Obama was elected President of the United States in 2008, the First Lady Michelle Obama set about planning the presidential garden, digging up some of the South lawn at the White House (there was some to spare!) and planting vegetables. Considering they are a pair of urban lawyers from Chicago, Barack and Michelle must have needed tips, suggestions and books about vegetable gardening.
The First Lady herself rolled up her sleeves, and along with a team of horticulturalists, the Secretary of Agriculture, numerous chefs and a selection of Washington fifth-graders, took on the planning, plotting, digging and planting of the 1,100-square-foot garden. The plot boasts over 50 varieties of edibles, including cilantro, arugula, an assortment of greens, berries, lettuces and more - but no beets, as the President doesn't care for them. Much of the motivation for the garden came from the First Lady's realization that her busy young daughters were not always receiving the full complement of balanced, complete nutrition on the go, and the addition of a fresh, on-site garden would be an excellent way to supplement their diets. The nutrition and meal plans in American schools has also been a topic of hot debate and interest to her.
The Obamas are not the first White House residents to embrace vegetable gardening. In 1800, John Adams planted a garden, Eleanor Roosevelt grew vegetables during the World War II and the Clintons had a roof-top garden for vegetables and herbs.
Clearly, the Obamas have been reading The 100-Mile Diet books by Alisa Smith and J.B. MacKinnon, and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. Here are some of the books we recommend to help the Obamas - or any avid gardener, novice or experienced - to grow the edible garden of their dreams.
The Book of Vegetable Cookery, Usual and Unusual
Erroll Henry Stuart Sherson
I'll Never Marry a Farmer