Michelle Obama would like her legacy to be as well rooted at the White House as that of her president husband.
And a big part of that is the White House kitchen garden where the first lady was joined by students from across the country Thursday for the last harvest of the Obama era.
“This little garden will live on as a symbol of the hopes that we all hold of growing a healthier nation for our children,”' Obama told a crowd gathered at the garden. “I am hopeful that future first families will cherish this garden like we have, and that it will become one of our enduring White House traditions.”
Looks like the first lady will get her wish.
The W. Atlee Burpee home gardening company and The Burpee Foundation have contributed $2.5 million to the National Park Foundation to maintain the garden for at least 17 years.
The garden’s size has grown from an original 1,100 square feet to 2,800 square feet. It has a new wooden arbor for an entrance, wider bluestone walkways, and wooden tables and benches.
There’s also an inscribed stone that reads: “White House Kitchen Garden, established in 2009 by First Lady Michelle Obama with the hope of growing a healthier nation for our children.”View full gallery
Obama recalled the initial doubts she had about the garden.
“What if we just got a few sad little tomatoes and a bunch of weeds?” she recalled Thursday.
But the garden thrived from the beginning, with help from White House chefs and National Park groundskeepers. Fresh greens from the backyard would soon find their way to china plates at state dinners as well as local soup kitchens.
Over time, the first lady added beehives, a compost system, and a pollinators’ garden to attract birds and butterflies.
The garden has been a powerful symbol of her efforts to promote healthy eating and lifestyles for America's children, formalized as the Let’s Move initiative in 2010.