Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Transcript & Video: First Lady's Remarks At Spring 2011 White House Kitchen Garden Planting

"It's not just about planting good vegetables; it’s about passing the information on," Mrs. Obama says...
First Lady Michelle Obama was joined by two dozen fourth and fifth graders from DC's Bancroft Elementary and Harriet Tubman Elementary schools on Wednesday afternoon, for the third Spring planting of the White House Kitchen Garden.

Above, Mrs. Obama welcomes the kids to the White House as her Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives, Sam Kass, left, looks on.

The White House chefs have adopted Tubman under the Chefs Move to Schools initiative, a Let's Move! project that pairs professional chefs with local schools. Bancroft students have been participating in Kitchen Garden activities since the garden was first planted in April of 2009.

A full post about the planting event is here. A post about Mrs. Obama's forthcoming book about the Kitchen Garden--which she didn't mention in her remarks--IS HERE. The press release for the book IS HERE. The Kitchen Garden features a special bed in honor of President Thomas Jefferson.

The full transcript of Mrs. Obama's remarks:


Office of the First Lady
March 16, 2011


South Lawn

3:33 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA: What’s going on? How are you guys doing?


MRS. OBAMA: Fine! Are you excited?


MRS. OBAMA: You ready to do something?


MRS. OBAMA: All right, first I’ve got to find out who’s here. I see some Bancroft t-shirts. Are you guys all from Bancroft?


MRS. OBAMA: It’s good to have you back. What grades are you? What grades do we have?


MRS. OBAMA: Fifth grade, nice! Awesome! Now, Tubman? Is Tubman in the house?


MRS. OBAMA: Where are the Tubman people? Let’s see some Tubman action. Yes! And what grades are you all in?

AUDIENCE: Fourth! Fifth!

MRS. OBAMA: Fourth and fifth. How exciting. Now, who’s been here before? All right, cool, cool. And who -- all right, let’s see new hands, new hands. Anybody who hasn’t been here before? All right, great.

Well, this is exciting for all of us because this is the planting season for the White House Garden.


MRS. OBAMA: And we’re excited to have you guys. We rely on you all so much to get all this done, because look how much we have to plant. There’s no way we would get this done without your help. So we really appreciate it. So how many of you guys know what we’re going to plant today? All right, give me something. Let me hear it. What are we going to do? Who told you?

AUDIENCE: Spinach.

MRS. OBAMA: Spinach? We got some --

AUDIENCE: Cauliflower.

MRS. OBAMA: Got some cauliflower, got some cabbage. Collards, cauliflower, what else?


MRS. OBAMA: Peas, we got some peas! Beets. Uh-oh. The President doesn’t like beets. (Laughter.) But it’s okay. We’re an equal opportunity garden. (Laughter.) What else? Swiss chard, that’s what it is. Do you know what Swiss chard is? It’s like a green. It’s like a -- it’s like a lettuce that you cook. It’s like greens, collards, mustard -- something like that. Yeah, yeah.

So what kind of vegetables do you all like?

AUDIENCE: Broccoli.

MRS. OBAMA: Do I hear a little broccoli? Malia and Sasha’s favorite -- broccoli. Spinach. We’re spinach lovers, too. Turnips? A little lettuce? Some corn? Corn is good. I think we’re going to try to do some corn. Yeah. Was that me? Oh, he’s giving directions to other people. No corn yet, but we’re going to get there. Leeks -- you like leeks? You guys know what leeks are?


MRS. OBAMA: All right. Sam, explain leeks.

MR. KASS: Leeks are in the family of --

MRS. OBAMA: The leek family.

MR. KASS: Leek family -- (laughter.) And the thing about leeks, when you plant the leek you keep putting soil on top of it as it grows. So the part that you want to eat stays white -- gets no sun so it stays white and really tender. They’re delicious.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: What would happen if --

MR. KASS: Then it would just grow really green and you can’t eat it --

MRS. OBAMA: So the fun thing is, is that after we plant it, this stuff starts growing, we can try all this stuff. So that’s going to be the fun part, is trying some new things. So maybe if you haven’t had leeks, you’ll try some leeks. Yes, you’ll try some leeks with me. (Laughter.) Maybe some Swiss chard. You’ll try some of that, too.

All right, that sounds good. But more importantly, you guys are helping do something that’s really important to me and that’s be a part of a program that we started here called “Let’s Move.” Have you guys heard about “Let’s Move”? “Let’s Move” is to fight the epidemic of childhood obesity, to make sure you guys are getting off to a healthy start. But it’s not just about planting good vegetables; it’s about passing the information on.

So you guys are lucky enough to be here and we are grateful to have you here, but there are a lot of kids who don’t get the opportunity to come plant at the White House. You’ve got family members and other people who need to know what you’re learning. So we’re going to want you guys to pass this information on, especially go home and get your parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles to cook some vegetables, to make sure you guys are trying new things -- because a lot of times they say they don’t try it because you guys won’t eat it. So you got to let them know you’re ready to try some things, right? And you’ve got to talk to the other kids at your school as well, right?

Well, we’re grateful to have you. We know that our White House chefs have also been working with the Tubman School on Chefs Move to School. So they come and hang out with you guys all the time, I understand.

And this is Bancroft. You guys have been here for the full three years that we’ve been working on the garden, so it’s really exciting to have you guys back.

So I’m going to stop talking and we’re going to start getting to work. Okay. We ready?


MRS. OBAMA: All right, let’s move! Let’s get it done! (Applause.)

END 3:37 P.M. EDT

Above, Mrs. Obama walks through the garden with students.

*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/