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Friday, April 10, 2009

WHITE HOUSE GARDEN

Everyone Admires A Green Thumb

The international news media may have been fascinated by what Michelle Obama was wearing on her first trip abroad last week. But the first lady said that the world leaders she met were curious about something else: "The number one question I got as the first lady from world leaders -- they were excited about this garden," she told a group of students who had come to help seed the new, 1,100-square-foot plot on the South Lawn. "Every single person, from Prince Charles on down, they were excited we were planting this garden."

Obama stressed that a garden is an easy -- and inexpensive -- way for families to get fruits and vegetables into their diet. She asked the children to guess how much it cost to install the White House garden. The first guess: $100,000. "My husband would go crazy if he thought we were spending that kind of money," she said with a laugh. "No, a little lower than that."

The organic garden, which will supply fruits, vegetables and honey for the first family, White House staff and state dinners, cost about $200 to put in place.

Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, 25 students from Bancroft Elementary in Mount Pleasant, and a team of White House chefs planted 25 varieties of heirloom seeds and seedlings including kale, rhubarb and 10 kinds of herbs.

Weather permitting, Assistant White House Chef Sam Kass said, the first crop of lettuce, spinach and herbs will be ready in two weeks.

-- Jane Black

Waiting on Word: Despite reports that the Obamas plan to worship on Easter Sunday at his church, the pastor of the District's Nineteenth Street Baptist Church says he is still waiting by the phone. "We have not heard anything from the White House," said the Rev. Derek Harkins, pastor of the church, where the first family worshiped the Sunday before Barack Obama was inaugurated.

-- Hamil R. Harris

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