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Posted at 3:50 p.m. on April 4, 2014
No longer satisfied with fostering better eating habits amongst humans, First Lady Michelle Obama is now making a bid to nurture Mother Nature by weaving pollinator-friendly flowering plants into the agricultural mix that makes up the White House kitchen garden.
FLOTUS broke ground on the project in 2009 and has only seen interest in the ultimate testament to homegrown food multiply with each successive planting.
The carefully tended garden routinely doubles as an instructional tool for Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign, a pet project designed to spur healthier eating and increased physical activity among America’s youth.
Sam Kass, executive director of “Let’s Move!” and senior advisor on nutrition policy, listed the pollinator plants, a bed of Lincoln oats and a recently transplanted pawpaw tree as the latest additions to the garden party.
“I’ve never cooked with pawpaw. We’ll play around with it,” Kass told reporters when pressed about his plans for the indigenous-but-not-widely-known fruit. (If you are really curious, Mackintosh Fruit Farm welcomes pick-your-own pawpaw gatherers each fall).
As for the rest of it, we spotted garden markers listing: raspberries (five bushes), broccoli, spinach, strawberries, onions, endive, tatsoi, snow peas, cabbage, Swiss chard (four varieties, including rhubarb, oriole, magenta sunset and Fordhook giant), bok choi, lettuce (multiple beds), kohlrabi, cauliflower, radishes, kale, oregano, garlic, chives, sage and mizuna.
Kass said he expects to be picking lettuce, radishes and arugula within a month, and estimated that they’ll once again see of surplus of tomatoes, zucchini and peppers (“they go like gangbusters”) throughout the summer.
“I think it really guides what we cook,” Kass said of the fresh produce’s sway over presidential dining. “It’s an inspiration every day.”
And while the average American probably does not have an army of chefs around to help cultivate a personal food supply, Kass urged everyone to try getting their hands dirty.
“Start small. Don’t be afraid to fail. And include your kids,” he counseled aspiring gardeners.
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