Monday, July 05, 2010

President Obama Gives A Tour of The White House Kitchen Garden

An historic photo of executive power among the eggplants...
The White House chefs are usually the folks who give special tours of First Lady Michelle Obama's Kitchen Garden. But on July 1, President Obama led a power walk through the pea stalks.

On a scorching Washington afternoon, President Obama guided his Vice President, Joe Biden, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), through the lush crop rows in the 1,500 square foot garden. The tomato-viewing trio had just finished a meeting in the Oval Office. (Above: Sen. Reid is behind the President, and VP Biden is in back)

The moment of executive power aligning with eggplants (and arugula, for that matter) was captured by President Obama's presidential photographer, Pete Souza. As the first official photo of the President in Mrs. Obama's garden, it's the visual equivalent of the shout-out he gave the First Lady during his January, 2010 State of the Union address. During that historic speech, the President lauded the First Lady for her childhood obesity campaign--which had yet to be formally launched (that would happen on Feb. 9, 2010).

After leading Mr. Biden and Sen. Reid on the romp through the radishes, President Obama headed back to the Oval Office, for a briefing on the BP oil spill.

The only other Souza photo that has been released of President Obama and the garden is the one above, which was shot on March 20, 2009. It captures the President and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs watching a television in the Upper Press Office in the West Wing, as Mrs. Obama breaks ground for the Kitchen Garden for the very first time.

Sen. Reid says Let's Move!
Perhaps Sen. Reid needed a Presidential tour of the now world famous Kitchen Garden because he is a staunch supporter of Mrs. Obama's Let's Move! campaign, and she's credited the garden as being a springboard for the initiative. On June 1, Sen. Reid joined the First Lady at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in his home state, to launch Let's Move Outside, which encourages families to use federal parks and conservation areas for recreational activities. (Above: Mrs. Obama and the Senator demonstrating fitness moves at Red Rock Canyon)

Foodie photos from the White House...but none of President & First Lady together in the Kitchen Garden
There have been plenty of official White House foodie photos, many taken by Souza. Most recently, these have included the President settling his World Cup beer bet with British Prime Minister David Cameron, and his visit to Ray's Hell Burger with Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev. Numerous shots of him enjoying Gulf Coast seafood with local citizens have made it onto the White House Flickr, too.

But no official photo of the President and Mrs. Obama together in the Kitchen Garden has been released yet; ground was first broken for the project in March of 2009. (Above: The official White House photo of Presidents Obama and Medvedev at Ray's)

The Kitchen Garden is always a busy place...
Despite temperatures approximating the interior of a blast furnace in Washington, DC for the last two months, the Kitchen Garden is thriving. School groups and other lucky visitors tour frequently.

This year's first Spring planting took place on April 1, when Mrs. Obama and a group of local school children planted a wide selection of vegetables, including some special varieties donated by Peter Hatch, Master Gardener at President Thomas Jefferson's historic Monticello plantation home (a swell new interview with Hatch is here). Hatch has gathered together a Monticello White House Seed Sampler that's available for citizens to plant in their own gardens; check it out here. (Above: The Kitchen Garden was deserted on Sunday, July 4, as the South Lawn was converted to a red, white and blue wonderland for the special Independence Day barbecue)

A unique Kitchen Garden harvest and picnic was held on June 4, to celebrate the launch of Mrs. Obama's Chefs Move To Schools initiative. Mrs. Obama was joined at that event by celeb chefs Tom Colicchio, Jose Andres, Cat Cora, Ellie Krieger, Rachael Ray, and Marcus Samulesson. (Above: Mrs. Obama with from l Jose Andres and her Food Initiative Coordinator Sam Kass and kids during the Chefs Move harvest)

The White House created a special harvest and picnic video featuring Ray and Samuelsson. Last week, Colicchio testified before the House Education & Labor Committee, in support of child nutrition legislation.

Most recently, in a new video, Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses explains composting in the Kitchen Garden. In another new video, Kass and official Beekeeper Charlie Brandts give the buzz on the White House beehive.

*Photos: President Obama in the Kitchen Garden and at Ray's by Pete Souza/White House; Mrs. Obama with Sen. Reid by Reuters; Kitchen Garden and Mrs. Obama at Chefs Move harvest by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama.