Since 2009, there have been just three official photos of President Obama in his wife's historic South Lawn vegetable plot...
As President Obama marks his 51st birthday today, the Photo of the Day on the White House website is a new image of him walking in First Lady Michelle Obama's globally famous Kitchen Garden (above). Taken on Friday and then posted late in the afternoon, it's a very rare image. Since Mrs. Obama first broke ground for her signature project in April of 2009, there has been just one other publicly released White House photo of the President on a power stroll among the squash vines, taken in 2010. A different official photo of the President in his wife's garden, also taken in 2010, was released by Prime Minister David Cameron's office. Update: The photo had pride of place on the White House blog until Tuesday morning, Aug. 7.
"President Barack Obama walks in the White House Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn, Aug. 3, 2012," read the caption with the photo on the White House blog. It was taken by chief photographer Pete Souza.
Making the photo even more exceptional: There is not a single photo of the Eater in Chief walking among the historic vegetables included in Mrs. Obama's book American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America, published in May. There are just two photos of the President in the book. One is of him purchasing gardening gloves for his wife, and the other is of him presenting the gift.
Souza's previous official photo of the President was taken on July 1, 2010, as he led Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Vice President Joe Biden on a walk through the Kitchen Garden. The Presidential tour was later credited with inspiring Reid to push crucial school lunch legislation championed by the First Lady through the Senate. The lawmakers ultimately approved the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act 2010 by unanimous consent, and it was signed into law by the President in December of 2010.
The photo was at one time posted to the official White House Flickr, but seems to have now been removed.
The second official photo of the President touring the crop rows was taken as he gave Prime Minister Cameron a tour on July 20, 2010. The leaders were on a long ramble around the South Lawn, and Souza captured them in action at multiple points, jackets in hand, on the hot summer day, but not in the Kitchen Garden. That photo was taken by Cameron's photographer.
No official photos of the Obama daughters, Malia, 14, and Sasha, 11, in their mother's Kitchen Garden have ever been released. Nor do the girls appear in any of the dozens of lush photographs that fill the pages of American Grown.
First Dog Bo, however, is a regular Kitchen Garden visitor--his job is a daily inspection of the crop rows, Mrs. Obama writes in her book--and there are many photos of the First Dog and his mistress in American Grown. Starting in October of 2011, the official White House photo, above, of Mrs. Obama and Bo sitting in the garden is a special memento that is sent to children who write to the First Lady.
*Top two photos by Pete Souza/White House; Bo and First Lady photo by Lawrence Jackson/White House; Cameron photo by 10 Downing Street