American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens across America

American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens across America

by Michelle Obama

Narrated by Michelle Obama, Various

Abridged — 4 hours, 9 minutes

Michelle Obama
American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens across America

American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens across America

by Michelle Obama

Narrated by Michelle Obama, Various

Abridged — 4 hours, 9 minutes

Michelle Obama

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In April 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama planted a kitchen garden on the White House's South Lawn.  As fresh vegetables, fruit, and herbs sprouted from the ground, this White House Kitchen Garden inspired a new conversation all across the country about the food we feed our families and the impact it has on the health and well-being of our children.

Now, in her first-ever book, American Grown, Mrs. Obama invites you inside the White House Kitchen Garden and shares its inspiring story, from the first planting to the latest harvest.  Hear about her worries as a novice gardener - would the new plants even grow? Learn about her struggles and her joys as lettuce, corn, tomatoes, collards and kale, sweet potatoes and rhubarb flourished in the freshly tilled soil.  Get an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at every season of the garden's growth, with striking original photographs that bring its story to life.  Try the unique recipes created by White House chefs and made with ingredients just picked from the White House garden.  And learn from the White House Garden team about how you can help plant your own backyard, school or community garden.

Mrs. Obama's journey continues across the nation as she shares the stories of other gardens that have moved and inspired her: Houston office workers who make the sidewalk bloom; a New York City School that created a scented garden for the visually impaired; a North Carolina garden that devotes its entire harvest to those in need; and other stories of communities that are transforming the lives and health of their citizens.

In American Grown, Mrs. Obama tells the story of the White House Kitchen Garden, celebrates the bounty of gardens across our nation, and reminds us all of what we can grow together.   

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In her well-intentioned first book, First Lady Obama presents the semi-organized tale of the White House Kitchen Garden. Shortly after her husband assumed office, Obama and a class of fifth-graders broke ground on the first food-producing garden since Eleanor Roosevelt's WWII-era "victory garden." Here, Obama details the evolution of the current 1,100 square foot patch, and expands her story to touch on community gardens, farmers' markets, the importance of the availability of fresh foods, and her "Let's Move!" initiative to fight childhood obesity. Organized according to the four seasons, Obama concludes each chapter with timely recipes, including spinach pie, a corn soup to go with freshly harvested summer veggies, linguine with a savory mushroom bacon sauce, and white chocolate-cherry-carrot cookies for a sweet wintry treat. In addition to these "highlights," 40 pages of season-specific recipes are included. Though narrative structure is not Obama's forte (she frequently pauses mid-story to offer tips for home gardeners and advice on how to build a better lunch), this is nevertheless an eye-catching and engaging book. Those looking for a linear story will likely be frustrated, but folks interested in fresh, local food; Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign; and life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will find plenty to enjoy here. Photos.
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Product Details

BN ID: 2940172161100
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication date: 05/29/2012
Edition description: Abridged

Read an Excerpt

On March 20, 2009, I was like any other hopeful gardener with a pot out on the windowsill or a small plot by the back door. I was nervously watching the sky. Would it freeze? Would it snow? Would it rain? I had spent two months settling into a new house in a new city. My girls had started a new school; my husband, a new job. My mother had just moved in upstairs. And now I was embarking on something I had never attempted before: starting a garden.
But this was not going to be just any garden—it would be a very public garden. Cameras would be trained on its beds, and questions would be asked about what we had planted and why we had planted it. The garden was also being planted on a historic landscape: the South Lawn of the White House. Here even the tomatoes and beans would have a view of the towering Washington Monument.
When I first arrived in Washington, I wasn’t even sure that we could plant a garden. I didn’t know whether we would be allowed to change the landscaping on the White House grounds, or whether the soil would be fertile enough, or whether there would be enough sunlight. And I had hardly any gardening experience, so I didn’t even really know how to go about planting a garden in the first place.
But one thing I did know was that I wanted this garden to be more than just a plot of land growing vegetables on the White House lawn. I wanted it to be the starting point for something bigger. As both a mother and a first lady, I was alarmed by reports of skyrocketing childhood obesity rates and the dire consequences for our children’s health. And I hoped this garden would help begin a conversation about this issue—a conversation about the food we eat, the lives we lead, and how all of that affects our children.
I also knew that I wanted this new White House garden to be a “learning garden,” a place where people could have a hands-on experience of working the soil and children who have never seen a plant sprout could put down seeds and seedlings that would take root. And I wanted them to come back for the harvest, to be able to see and taste the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors.
So in 2009, on a chilly and windy, but thankfully sunny, first day of spring, I joined twenty-three fifth graders from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C., with shovels, rakes, pitchforks, and a few wheelbarrows to break ground for the White House Kitchen Garden. Twenty days later, we were ready to plant. We put in lettuce and peas, spinach and broccoli, kale and collard greens. And for days after that, I would look at the freshly turned soil and wonder to myself, is anything growing?

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