Monday, July 25, 2011

First Lady Michelle Obama Gifts Kitchen Garden Seeds To Jubilee House Veterans

A little bit of the White House will grow at Extreme Makeover House; local CSA donates a year's worth of produce to residents...
First Lady Michelle Obama subtly combined her Let's Move! and Joining Forces campaigns during her visit to the Steps N Stages Jubilee House, the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition house she toured last Thursday in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Mrs. Obama presented seeds culled from her own White House Kitchen Garden to the women veterans who live in the shelter, residents said during their first interviews with media after the construction dust had settled. The two-air episode will air on ABC on Sunday, Sept. 25, for the show's tw0-hour season premiere. (Above: Mrs. Obama during the filming)

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Summey Marshall, a 15-year Navy veteran and former chaplain who opened her own 1,600 square-foot home as a facility for impoverished women veterans last Fall, gave Mrs. Obama a tour of the Jubilee House as the ABC reality TV series crew and thousands of volunteers were putting the finishing touches on the new enclave. The First Lady visited a new greenhouse that was built in the backyard, as well as the home's vegetable garden, before joining the construction crew to work, which required an outfit change mid-visit. (Above: Mrs. Obama waves to crowds of onlookers, accompanied by host Ty Pennington)

"I'm extremely happy," Marshall told the Fayetteville Observer, adding that she feels blessed.

Jubilee House resident Judy Hilburn, who was homeless for about two years before moving into the shelter three months ago, was especially excited about the White House seeds.

"You know she's got her own kitchen garden at the White House," Hilburn said. "She brought us seeds from her garden so we can plant them in our own garden. I'm the green thumb. I can't wait to get my hands dirty."

More than 32 different kinds of vegetables grow in the Kitchen Garden, including heirloom and heritage varieties. Mrs. Obama most recently planted and harvested the 1,500 square foot plot in June. She will publish a book about the project in April of 2012. (Above: Mrs. Obama with a helper in the Kitchen Garden)

Hilburn said she is particularly excited about the greenhouse, but also thrilled that she now has her own room in the house, thanks to the renovation. She formerly shared a windowless room with another resident, and slept on a twin bed. Mrs. Obama was warm and welcoming, Hilburn said.

Food donations...
At the end of her visit, Mrs. Obama presented homeowner Marshall the keys to the home, joined by the cast of the show. Her visit inspired an outpouring of community support, which includes a yearlong subscription for delivery of seasonal produce from a farm-to-table organization, Carolina Grown, a CSA that sources locally. The organization also stocked the refrigerator at Jubilee House with an immediate supply of meats, dairy products and fresh produce. The Huntington Learning Center donated a $10,000 scholarship. (Above: Mrs. Obama and Pennington watch as Marshall, in red, sees the house for the first time)

Blue Ridge Log Cabins, a South Carolina company, was selected by the show's producers to do the renovation, which transformed the modest rancher into a two-story, 5,000 square foot house. Producers said Marshall's ability to inspire others and effect change in the lives of down-and-out women veterans was the reason she was chosen for the program; Marshall used her own funds to establish the Jubilee House, which provides residents with training and support to help them become homeowners and professionals. The episode will air this October.

*Top 2 photos by AP/pool; Kitchen Garden photo by EGK/Obama Foodorama; last photo by Chuck Howard via the White House