- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 21, 2009

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Twenty-six elementary schoolchildren wielded shovels, rakes, pitchforks and wheelbarrows to help first lady Michelle Obama break ground for a produce and herb garden on the White House grounds on Friday.

Crops to be planted in the coming weeks in the 1,100-square-foot, L-shaped patch near the fountain on the South Lawn include spinach, broccoli, various lettuces, kale and collard greens, assorted herbs and blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.

There will also be a beehive.

“We’re going to try to make our own honey here as well,” Mrs. Obama told the students from Bancroft Elementary School in the District. The school has its own community garden.

The students will be brought back to the White House next month to help with the planting, and after that to help harvest and cook some of the produce in the mansion’s kitchen. The first harvest is expected by late April.

Mrs. Obama said her family has talked about planting such a garden since they moved to the White House in January.

After she spoke, the students were paired off and handed a gardening tool. The first lady joined in with a tool of her own and together they began raking and scraping up the grass and topsoil, dumping it into wheelbarrows and depositing the contents in a central location.

“Are we done yet?” Mrs. Obama jokingly said at one point. “I want to plant. Let’s harvest something.”

When the work was finished, the students sat at three nearby picnic tables and were treated to apples, apple cider and cookies baked in the shape of a shovel.

Some of the produce from the garden will be served in the White House to the first family and at official functions. Some crops also will be donated to Miriam’s Kitchen, a soup kitchen near the White House where Mrs. Obama recently helped serve lunch.

White House assistant chef Sam Kass said the garden will exist year round, and the crops will change based on the seasons.

He gave no estimate on how much produce the garden would yield, but said, “It should be quite a bit, if we’re lucky.”

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