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American Grown
Cover of American Grown
American Grown
The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America
Borrow Borrow
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The former First Lady, author of Becoming, and producer and star of Waffles + Mochi tells the inspirational story of the White House Kitchen Garden and how gardens can transform our lives and the health of our communities.
 
Early in her tenure as First Lady, despite being a novice gardener, Michelle Obama planted a kitchen garden on the White House’s South Lawn. To her delight, she watched as fresh vegetables, fruit, and herbs sprouted from the ground. Soon the White House Kitchen Garden inspired a new conversation all across the country about the food we feed our families and the impact it has on the nutrition and well-being of our children.
 
In American Grown, Mrs. Obama invites you inside the White House Kitchen Garden, from the first planting to the satisfaction of the seasonal harvest. She reveals her early worries and struggles—would the new plants even grow?—and her joy as lettuce, corn, tomatoes, collards and kale, sweet potatoes and rhubarb flourished in the freshly tilled soil. She shares the stories of other gardens that have moved and inspired her on her journey across the nation. And she offers what she learned about planting your own backyard, school, or community garden.
 
American Grown features: 
• a behind-the-scenes look at every season of the garden’s growth
• unique recipes created by White House chefs
• a fascinating history of community gardens in the United States
 
From a modern-day vegetable truck that brings fresh produce to underserved communities in Chicago, to Houston office workers who make the sidewalk bloom, to a New York City school that created a scented garden for the visually impaired, to a garden in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, that devotes its entire harvest to those less fortunate, American Grown isn’t just the story of a single garden. It’s a celebration of the bounty of our nation and a reminder of what we can all grow together.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The former First Lady, author of Becoming, and producer and star of Waffles + Mochi tells the inspirational story of the White House Kitchen Garden and how gardens can transform our lives and the health of our communities.
 
Early in her tenure as First Lady, despite being a novice gardener, Michelle Obama planted a kitchen garden on the White House’s South Lawn. To her delight, she watched as fresh vegetables, fruit, and herbs sprouted from the ground. Soon the White House Kitchen Garden inspired a new conversation all across the country about the food we feed our families and the impact it has on the nutrition and well-being of our children.
 
In American Grown, Mrs. Obama invites you inside the White House Kitchen Garden, from the first planting to the satisfaction of the seasonal harvest. She reveals her early worries and struggles—would the new plants even grow?—and her joy as lettuce, corn, tomatoes, collards and kale, sweet potatoes and rhubarb flourished in the freshly tilled soil. She shares the stories of other gardens that have moved and inspired her on her journey across the nation. And she offers what she learned about planting your own backyard, school, or community garden.
 
American Grown features: 
• a behind-the-scenes look at every season of the garden’s growth
• unique recipes created by White House chefs
• a fascinating history of community gardens in the United States
 
From a modern-day vegetable truck that brings fresh produce to underserved communities in Chicago, to Houston office workers who make the sidewalk bloom, to a New York City school that created a scented garden for the visually impaired, to a garden in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, that devotes its entire harvest to those less fortunate, American Grown isn’t just the story of a single garden. It’s a celebration of the bounty of our nation and a reminder of what we can all grow together.
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Excerpts-
  • From the cover Introduction
     
    On March 20, 2009, I was like any other hopeful gardener with a pot out on the windowsill or a small plot by the back door. I was nervously watching the sky. Would it freeze? Would it snow? Would it rain? I had spent two months settling into a new house in a new city. My girls had started a new school; my husband, a new job. My mother had just moved in upstairs. And now I was embarking on something I had never attempted before: starting a garden.
     
    But this was not going to be just any garden—it would be a very public garden. Cameras would be trained on its beds, and questions would be asked about what we had planted and why we had planted it. The garden was also being planted on a historic landscape: the South Lawn of the White House. Here even the tomatoes and beans would have a view of the towering Washington Monument.
     
    When I first arrived in Washington, I wasn’t even sure that we could plant a garden. I didn’t know whether we would be allowed to change the landscaping on the White House grounds, or whether the soil would be fertile enough, or whether there would be enough sunlight. And I had hardly any gardening experience, so I didn’t even really know how to go about planting a garden in the first place.
     
    But one thing I did know was that I wanted this garden to be more than just a plot of land growing vegetables on the White House lawn. I wanted it to be the starting point for something bigger. As both a mother and a first lady, I was alarmed by reports of skyrocketing childhood obesity rates and the dire consequences for our children’s health. And I hoped this garden would help begin a conversation about this issue—a conversation about the food we eat, the lives we lead, and how all of that affects our children.
     
    I also knew that I wanted this new White House garden to be a “learning garden,” a place where people could have a hands-on experience of working the soil and children who have never seen a plant sprout could put down seeds and seedlings that would take root. And I wanted them to come back for the harvest, to be able to see and taste the fruits (and vegetables) of their labors.
     
    So in 2009, on a chilly and windy, but thankfully sunny, first day of spring, I joined twenty-three fifth graders from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, D.C., with shovels, rakes, pitchforks, and a few wheelbarrows to break ground for the White House Kitchen Garden. Twenty days later, we were ready to plant. We put in lettuce and peas, spinach and broccoli, kale and collard greens. And for days after that, I would look at the freshly turned soil and wonder to myself, is anything growing?
About the Author-
  • Michelle Obama is the First Lady of the United States and the mother of two daughters.  In February 2010, she launched Let’s Move!, a nationwide initiative to address the epidemic of childhood obesity by bringing healthier food into schools and communities, and encouraging kids to be more active.  American Grown is her first book.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Michelle Obama's familiar warm voice is the first one listeners hear in this family-friendly story of the White House kitchen garden. It's part history lesson, part tie-in to the First Lady's ÒLet's Move!Ó initiative, and it includes everything from behind-the-scenes anecdotes about life in the White House to instructions for starting a vegetable garden at home. Testimonials from contributors such as local farmer Jim Crawford and beekeeper Charlie Brandts are appealing and sincere, and hearing a fifth-grader read his essay about his day at the garden will make listeners' hearts grow three sizes. The abridgment mostly works--listeners won't know what they're missing--but it's a shame none of the photographs from the hardcover edition were included. The true value of AMERICAN GROWN, though, is the springboard it provides for conversations with kids about where our food comes from. J.M.D. © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 9, 2012
    In her well-intentioned first book, First Lady Obama presents the semi-organized tale of the White House Kitchen Garden. Shortly after her husband assumed office, Obama and a class of fifth-graders broke ground on the first food-producing garden since Eleanor Roosevelt's WWII-era "victory garden." Here, Obama details the evolution of the current 1,100 square foot patch, and expands her story to touch on community gardens, farmers' markets, the importance of the availability of fresh foods, and her "Let's Move!" initiative to fight childhood obesity. Organized according to the four seasons, Obama concludes each chapter with timely recipes, including spinach pie, a corn soup to go with freshly harvested summer veggies, linguine with a savory mushroom bacon sauce, and white chocolate-cherry-carrot cookies for a sweet wintry treat. In addition to these "highlights," 40 pages of season-specific recipes are included. Though narrative structure is not Obama's forte (she frequently pauses mid-story to offer tips for home gardeners and advice on how to build a better lunch), this is nevertheless an eye-catching and engaging book. Those looking for a linear story will likely be frustrated, but folks interested in fresh, local food; Obama's "Let's Move!" campaign; and life at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will find plenty to enjoy here. Photos.

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The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America
Michelle Obama
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