Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Michelle Obama says White House dog coming "soon."


Sunday update: The Obama White House new dog is a Portuguese water hound, named Bo by Sasha and Malia.

CHICAGO--The long awaited White House dog for the Obama girls is coming "soon," First Lady Michelle Obama said Thursday. Comment came at planting for kitchen garden. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were hanging outside near the Oval Office--at a picnic table near the new playset--when Mrs. Obama, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and some local students showed up to work on the planting.

"One thing I want to let you know -- I don't know if you were paying attention, but the President and I, we went on this long trip. We were in many, many countries -- we were in Europe. And the number one question I got as the First Lady from world leaders -- they were all excited about this garden," Mrs. Obama said.

"Every single person, from Prince Charles on down, they were excited about the fact that we were planting a garden, because in many countries they really believe in the importance of planting and growing your own food. So they were fascinated and grateful to all of you for helping make this possible."


-----Original Message-----
From: Nia-Malika Henderson
Sent: Thursday, April 09, 2009 5:26 PM

NB: FLOTUS on dog:Pooch will arrive, " soon."
Spotted on White House Lawn: POTUS and HRC chilling at bench near the swing set just outside of Oval Office. Press was shooed away (though some thought POTUS waved).

Garden event:

FLOTUS arrived at about 3:17 p.m. on the South Lawn for the planting of the garden. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack accompanied her and
25 students from Bancroft elementary school were there to greet them and get to work. FLOTUS said that in her trip abroad everyone, "from Prince Charles on down," was asking about the garden on the White House lawn, and that everyone was "fascinated and grateful to all of you for making this possible." The students were there last month when the soil was plowed up for the garden, which includes broccoli, onions, kale, collards, among other fruits and veggies (FULL LIST ATTACHED).

FLOTUS told the students, who were very well behaved and informed--one mentioned the Roosevelt garden when asked a question about the importance of the garden--that as a mom,she understood the importance of a healthy balanced diet for her girls.

And she told them "We are looking to you guys to educate the country."

The kids guessed that the cost of the garden was $100,000, to which FLOTUS said her husband would "go crazy" if it cost that much. After a round of what felt like The Price is Right, one kid finally guessed that the cost of the garden was $200.

"We can produce enough food to feed us for years to come," she said.
The students will return later and cook some of the food in the White House with the chefs, FLOTUS said.

WIth that, FLOTUS gave the lawn to Vilsack, who told students that he was going to make sure that they had fruits and veggies as a part of their school lunch. He told the students to "encourage your school and classmates to grow fruits and vegetables." Later, Vilsack, who called FLOTUS, the "first volunteer" credited the attention given to the White House garden with boosting seed sales and encouraging urban gardens. He also said it was important to make sure that Congress gives the needed resources so fruits and veggies can be in school lunches.

The work in the garden began with FLOTUS saying "Plant away, and get to work.."

(For those who are interested, FLOTUS was wearing a maroon zipfront windbreaker, black pants, black sneakers, brown and white garden gloves, and her hair was pulled back.)

She worked with two girls and as the planting went along, she talked to them about what they were planting--dill, rosemary, thyme and cilantro--and commented on the scent of the plants. The girls dug the holes, FLOTUS, on her hands and needs, dropped the plants in the dirt, and then the girls came with water cans. FLOTUS mentioned that she planted with one of her aunts before but she had not been in a garden in a long time. The work lasted about 40 minutes with FLOTUS commenting after that it was "easier than ripping the grass up."

Sam Kass, Assistant White House Chef and Food Initiative Coordinator said that in two weeks, the garden is really "going to get going if we are lucky" and that they'll be "picking fresh blueberries by the end of June."

Jocelyn Frye, director of policy and projects for FLOTUS said that gardening "shouldn't be overly complicated..this is something that a lot of families can do across the country.." and said that the example of FLOTUS would spur other people to make healthy choices.



Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release April 9, 2009


South Lawn

3:15 P.M. EDT

MRS. OBAMA: Well, hello! Hi, Sam, how are you? Wow, look at this. This is a big difference. How are you guys doing?


MRS. OBAMA: Well, welcome to the White House -- the White House Kitchen Garden. This is pretty exciting, right?


MRS. OBAMA: Well, who -- how many of you were here the last time to help us? Oh, you guys were all here. I thought I saw some familiar faces. So you know what we're doing -- this is part two. What are we going to do today?

CHILDREN: Planting.

MRS. OBAMA: We're going to plant the seeds. And I want to introduce you to Secretary Vilsack, who is the head of the Department of Agriculture. He's going to talk in a minute about some of the programs he's going to do for your school lunches.

But first, one thing I want to let you know -- I don't know if you were paying attention, but the President and I, we went on this long trip. We were in many, many countries -- we were in Europe. And the number one question I got as the First Lady from world leaders -- they were all excited about this garden.

Every single person, from Prince Charles on down, they were excited about the fact that we were planting a garden, because in many countries they really believe in the importance of planting and growing your own food. So they were fascinated and grateful to all of you for helping make this possible.

So what I want to ask again -- why do you -- why is this so important? Why do you think it's important for us to plant this garden?


CHILD: Because it's been since -- a long time since Roosevelt planted --

MRS. OBAMA: That's a good -- we have a historical perspective. It's been a very long time since a garden was planted, since the time of Roosevelt. This is a young historian here. That's true.

What about you, young lady? What do you think? Why is this important?

CHILD: So you can be healthy.

MRS. OBAMA: So you can be healthy. So why do you think fruits and vegetables are important to health? Yes.

CHILD: (Inaudible.)

MRS. OBAMA: Fruits and vegetables have nutrients and vitamins, yes.

CHILD: Energy?

MRS. OBAMA: Energy. Energy, absolutely. Any other? You, young man.

CHILD: It can make you strong.

MRS. OBAMA: It can make you strong -- yes, absolutely. This is one of the main reasons we're doing this, is that what I've learned as a mom, in trying to feed my girls, is that it is so important for them to get regular fruits and vegetables in their diets, because it does have nutrients, it does make you strong, it is all brain food. And when you go to school, it is so important for you to have a good breakfast, to make sure in your lunches that you have an apple or an orange or a banana, that you have something green when you eat any meal, lunch or dinner.

And we're looking to you guys to help educate the country, not just in your own homes, but other people as they think about how to plan their meals for their kids, to think about the importance of making sure that we have enough fruits and vegetables. And doing this garden is a really inexpensive way of making that happen.

Do you know how much -- I mean, look how big this garden is. Do you know how much it costs to just do this? And we're going to have carrots and spinach and herbs and berries. We're going to have a ton of stuff in this garden. How much do you think it costs to do this garden? How much?

CHILD: Over $100,000.

MRS. OBAMA: Over $100,000. (Laughter.) My husband would go crazy -- (laughter) -- if he thought we were spending that kind of money. No, a little lower than that. How much do you think? You.

CHILD: I think $5,000?

MRS. OBAMA: $5,000? No, a little lower. Yes.

CHILD: $1,000?

MRS. OBAMA: $1,000? No.

CHILD: $200.

MRS. OBAMA: $200 -- it doesn't -- it hasn't cost us more than $200 to plant this.

CHILD: $100?

MRS. OBAMA: It's about $100 -- it's between $100 and $200. So it's not a lot of money. And this garden can not only feed my family, but it's going to feed all the staff at the White House. We're going to use these vegetables to help feed you guys. We're going to serve it at some State Dinners. So with this little plot of land -- and this is a big plot; you don't even have to plant this much -- we can produce enough fruits and vegetables to feed us for years and years to come -- for just a couple of hundred dollars. Now, isn't that amazing?

So we're looking to you guys to help us make it happen. So we're going to plant the seedlings today. And then in a few months, hopefully right around the time you get out of school, you can come and help us harvest the fruits and vegetables, and come into the White House with all of our chefs and start doing a little cooking. How does that sound?


MRS. OBAMA: Well, thank you guys for coming back again. I hope you had fun the first time. You guys are weather producers because you have brought another perfect day. Thank you for that. And now I'm going to turn it over to Secretary Vilsack, who is going to talk a little bit about some of the programs he's doing especially for school lunch programs.

Secretary Vilsack. (Applause.)

END 3:20 P.M. EDT

White House Kitchen Garden Fact Sheet

The White House Kitchen Garden measures approximately 1100 square feet and is located on the west side of the South Lawn. It is visible from E Street, with a perfect southern exposure which provides a great deal of sun light.

The soil was tested and was found to be in good shape, including trace elements. Amendments have been made to enrich the soil and rock dusts of lime, green sand, crab meal sourced from the Chesapeake Bay and White House compost have been added to improve the macro and micro nutrient balance. Only organic fertilizers and insect repellants will be used and lady bugs and praying mantises will be introduced to naturally control other insect populations. A honey bee hive has been set up nearby for pollination purposes.

The four-season herb, fruit and vegetable garden will feature 25 varieties of heirloom seeds planted in slightly raised beds using succession planting methods.

Perennial Herbs: Mint, Garlic Chives, Chives, Thyme, Oregano, Anise hyssop, Sage, Rosemary, Marjoram, Chamomile
Annual Herbs: Parsley, Basil, Thai basil, Cilantro, Dill, Fennel
Vegetables: Lettuces (Green Oak Leaf, Red Romaine, Butterhead, Speckled), Spinach, Onions, Shallots, Chard, Snap Peas, Shell Peas, Carrots, Black Kale, Rhubarb, Arugula, Tomatoes, Tomatillos, Peppers (sweet and hot), Beans, Cucumbers, Okra, Sweet Potatoes
Fruits: Blueberries, Raspberries

Additionally, The Monticello Foundation and head gardener Peter Hatch have donated seeds and sprouts that originated in Thomas Jefferson's garden. Plantings will include Brown Dutch and Tennis Ball lettuces, Savoy Cabbage, and Prickly Seed Spinach, all reportedly Jefferson's favorites, and a favorite fig plant, the Marseille Fig, will be planted in a raised bed with Mint.

The garden will be tended by Dale Haney, Grounds Superintendent for the White House, and the White House kitchen staff, including Sam Kass, Assistant White House Chef and Food Initiative Coordinator. Students from Bancroft Elementary in Mount Pleasant, Washington, DC will participate in the groundbreaking, planting and harvesting of the garden.

Produce from the garden and honey from the hive will be available to the White House Chefs for preparing meals for the First Family, for official functions and donations will be made to Miriam's Kitchen, a soup kitchen near the White House.

The cost for the seeds and amendments is approximately $200.

SOUTH GROUNDS - Chronology

1791-1792 President George Washington receives transfer of land for the new federal city. In 1792, he moves slightly to the west the site which Maj. Pierre L'Enfant had selected for the President's House and construction begins under architect James Hoban.

1800 John Adams, as the first President to occupy the White House, orders a vegetable garden. Probably laid out to the northeast of the building, it was not planted after Adams left office in March 1801.

1801-1809 Thomas Jefferson plants trees on about eight acres of the construction-scarred grounds that he encloses within a wooden fence. In 1808, the south side fence is replaced with a stone wall. The origin of the hillocks on each side of the South Lawn, long called the "Jefferson Mounds," is disputed.

The grounds are more fully divided north (public) and south (private) by the construction of east and west terraces (1805-1808) by Benjamin Latrobe after design sketches by President Thomas Jefferson (planned length of each abbreviated in 1806).

On the southeast side, at the western end of Pennsylvania Avenue, Benjamin Latrobe erects in 1808 a gateway in the form of a classical triple-arched brick triumphal arch (removed in 1857).

1824 South Portico is constructed for James Monroe by James Hoban.

1825 John Quincy Adams develops the first flower garden (southeast of the East Terrace, as sited by Thomas Jefferson). In 1827 he wrote of two acres covered with at least one thousand "forest and fruit-trees, shrubs, hedges, esculent [edible] vegetables, kitchen and medicinal herbs, hot-house plants, flowers, and weeds."

1835 Andrew Jackson creates the White House orangery (hothouse for citrus fruit trees, roses, and camellias) in an east side structure never attached to the East Terrace. He also adds more trees to the grounds, possibly including the "Jackson magnolia" to the west of the South Portico.

1857 The garden and orangery on the east side (expanded in 1853 by Franklin Pierce) are demolished for the expansion of the Treasury Department. The first of several greenhouses is constructed atop the West Terrace.

1866, 1871 East and West Executive Avenues are built as public ways on each side of the White House.

1871 Ulysses S. Grant extends the grounds south beyond the perimeter originally defined in 1801 by Thomas Jefferson's fence.

1875 South Fountain is created near the south end of the enlarged South Grounds, a broad pool replacing a smaller fountain (c.1857) nearer the South Portico.

1878-80 Hundreds of trees are planted under Rutherford B. Hayes, who begins the tradition of commemorative trees.

1902 The conservatory is removed during the Theodore Roosevelt renovation of the White House, exposing again the Jeffersonian West Terrace to which is attached a new office building (later called the "West Wing"). Edith Roosevelt plants a "colonial garden" beside the terrace.

1909 The first tennis court - built in 1903 beside the West Wing - is rebuilt on its current site further south on the South Grounds during the William Howard Taft expansion of the West Wing.

1913 Ellen Wilson replaces the colonial garden on the west with a formal rose garden and a new East Garden is created.

c.1933 Playground equipment - slide, jungle gym, and tree-mounted swing - is installed near the mound on the east side of the South Lawn for Franklin D. Roosevelt's grandchildren, Sistie and Buzzie Dall.

1935 Under Franklin D. Roosevelt, renowned landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., prepares a plan for the grounds. The South Grounds are to be a park-like grove of trees cut through by a broad southward vista.

1937-38 The current fence is completed around the South Grounds with a taller iron fence, similar to the 1818 north fence, replacing the low Victorian style fence around the east, south, and west sides of the grounds. The installation includes new gates and stone piers at the east and west entrances to the South Grounds.

1954 Putting green is created on the west side of the South Lawn for Dwight D. Eisenhower (removed 1971, rebuilt on original foundations 1995).

1961 John F. Kennedy has the Rose Garden redesigned to serve presidential functions and places management of the White House grounds under the National Park Service.

1961 Playground equipment - swing set and jungle gyms- is installed on the west side of the South Lawn for Caroline and John F. Kennedy, Jr.

1964 Lady Bird Johnson has the East Garden redesigned and named in honor of Jacqueline Kennedy.

1969 Lady Bird Johnson adds the Children's Garden, an intimate area adjoining the tennis court on the South Grounds.

1975 Gerald R. Ford installs the first outdoor swimming pool at the White House, the 1933 indoor pool in the West Terrace having been covered over in 1970 beneath the new Press Room.

1977 Tree house designed by Jimmy Carter is installed for daughter Amy on the
ground beneath the low-hanging branches of a tree near the west mound on the South Lawn.

1989 Horseshoe pitch is created beside the swimming pool for George H.W. Bush (removed 1993, rebuilt 2001).

1991 Basketball half-court is created beside the National Park Service maintenance building on the southwest of the South Grounds.

1993 Jogging track is created around the inside of the south driveway for Bill Clinton (removed 2008).

2009 Playground set is installed for Malia and Sasha Obama south of the West Wing.

2009 First Lady Michelle Obama plants White House Kitchen Garden on west side of lower South Lawn.

Office of the Curator
March 2009



o.k.'s their mantra...'soon'. yep, jesus is coming soon as well, they say.

The arrival of the new White House canine family member has been closely watched by the thousands of animal lovers across the country. The Obama's committed to adopting a pet and had every opportunity to adopt a pet. This would have sent a message and set a wonderful example for the country. Adopting a pet would have influenced others to adopt. Instead they are taking in a puppy that came from a breeder.

With so many thousands of pets being left homeless due to families losing their homes, pets left orphaned when their owners die or become too ill to care for them and for many other sad reasons- the Obama's really blew it. And those of us who volunteer our time, our money and our lives to helping save homeless pets and working to reduce the tragic numbers of healthy, adoptable companion animals who are euthanized because there are not enough homes for them- we are angry.

Amy Shever
2nd Chance 4 Pets
Los Gatos

Leave a comment

Get the Sweet widget

More widgets


Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

Stay in touch

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on April 10, 2009 2:12 AM.

Michelle Obama planting White House garden Thursday was the previous entry in this blog.

Ma Nishtaneh in the White House? Who's Who at the Obama seder. Brisket and kugel is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.