the WHITE HOUSEPresident Barack Obama

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The White House
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release

Remarks by the First Lady at Garden Harvesting Event

2:14 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA:  So how's everybody doing?

CHILDREN:  Fine!

MRS. OBAMA:  So we've got some Bancroft students -- and what other school do we have here?

CHILDREN:  Kimball!

MRS. OBAMA:  Yes, Kimball.  You guys are a new school.  So we're happy to have you guys.  So you know why we're here?

CHILD:  For the garden.

MRS. OBAMA:  To garden.  Well, more importantly we're going to harvest, right, because we've got all this food that is ready to be picked and eaten.  So just -- especially for the Kimball students, because Bancroft students -- you guys are new, even though the school isn't new.  Many of you haven't been here before, right?

CHILDREN:  Yes.

MRS. OBAMA:  Yes, yes.  So you remember how this all started.  If you remember that it was -- in March, right -- we decided we were going to plant this garden.  So this garden wasn't here before.  Nothing was here.  This was grass like everything else.  So we thought, well, wouldn't it be great if we could use this garden to talk about the importance of healthy eating and what good, fresh foods taste like?

So we had Bancroft students, who were fifth graders then -- many of them have gone on to sixth grade, a new school -- but they helped us till the soil, get the soil ready.  So we had to pull up all the grass and make sure that the soil was ready and healthy.  And then they came back and we actually planted. 

We planted -- remember planting these -- all these herbs and some of the lettuces.  So some of them were seeds, but some of them were little plants.  And then they grew, and then in the spring and the summer we harvested. So there was food just like this, ready to be picked.  And then we ate together.

So then the summer went by, and now it's fall, and there's a whole new crop of food here that's ready to be harvested.  And actually we've done a little bit of that.  My girls and I, we got a couple of the sweet potatoes, and we're going to do some of those -- these sweet potatoes are huge!  They're huge.  So hopefully you guys will be able to pull up some of these huge sweet potatoes.

So that's why we've invited you all here.  So you're going to help us do our fall/winter harvest.

Yes, young man, you have a question?  Oh, you're just fanning your hair?  (Laughter.)  That's good, that's good.

But we also have some other guests in addition to our students.  We've got somebody very special -- the first time he's been down with us to help harvest, Jim Adams.  And Jim is the chief horticulturalist here at the White House.  Do you know what a horticulturalist does, or what he did for this garden?  He really was responsible for how productive this garden was, because, you know, we sort of know a little bit of something about gardening, but how do you know what to plant where, and what's going to grow well here in this soil? 

Well, Jim helped us figure out where to put things, how to make it beautiful and to make sure that the food was going to grow, and we were going to get the right types of fruits at the right period of the season.  So Jim, really, we have to give him a big round of applause because -- (applause) -- thanks to Jim we have a very productive garden.

Do you know how much food has come out of this garden so far?  Over 740 pounds of food have come out of this little piece of land. 

And do you know how much it costs to plant all this?  How much do you all think it would cost to plant this?  Give me a figure.

CHILD:  Three hundred dollars.

MRS. OBAMA:  What?

CHILD:  Three hundred dollars.

MRS. OBAMA:  Three hundred dollars?  I have three hundred here!  (Laughter.)

CHILD:  Eight hundred.

MRS. OBAMA:  Eight hundred.  I've got eight hundred.  One thousand.  Six thousand dollars.  One more guess.

CHILD:  Five hundred.

MRS. OBAMA:  Five hundred.  All right, it costs less than two hundred dollars.  It was about a hundred and eighty dollars.  It cost a hundred dollars to get the -- a hundred-and-twenty-something dollars to get the soil ready, and about fifty-five dollars for all of these seeds.

So for less than two hundred dollars we have planted enough food to feed not just the folks at the White House, but we've also given a lot of food to some of our neighbors, and we're going to do that today. 

We've got some of the staff and our friends from Miriam's Kitchen, who are here.  Miriam's -- you guys raise your hands.  The Miriam's Kitchen team.  You guys know about Miriam's Kitchen?  It's a place where folks can go and get help if they need it.  You know, if moms and kids and families are hitting on hard times and they don't have a place to get food, they can go to Miriam's Kitchen.  And Miriam's Kitchen specializes in making sure that everyone who comes there has access to really healthy food. 

So everything that you guys pick here today, we're donating it to the Miriam's Kitchen.  So it makes it even extra special, okay?

So I want to thank you guys for coming and for sharing this with us.  And I also want to introduce all our chefs at the White House.  Everybody, raise your hands, all of our chefs at the White House who are -- who have helped to make sure that this garden grows and that we get good food, and they make it, and it's good, and it's healthy.  You know, it's all that good stuff.

So are you guys ready to do some work?

CHILDREN:  Yes!

MRS. OBAMA:  Are you ready to work really hard?

CHILDREN:  Yes!

MRS. OBAMA:  Are you ready to get dirty?

CHILDREN:  Yes!

MRS. OBAMA:  All right, let's go!  Let's go, let's do it, let's do it!

END
2:20 P.M. EDT