WASHINGTON--First Lady Michelle Obama the Bancroft Elementary
School here on friday and helped plant a dozen cucumbers and four red bell
FLOTUS on Friday, May 29, 2009, visited fifth-graders at Bancroft Elementary
School in the nation's capital to help plant a dozen cucumbers and four red bell
pepper plants -- the school has long cultivated an organic garden and students
from Bancroft helped Mrs. Obama plant the White House's garden this spring.
Mrs. Obama arrived at 1:56 p.m., dressed in a white floral print blouse, sheer
yellow sweater, light blue capri pants and silver faux snakeskin ballet flats.
"Hey!" she said as she walked through the library door to a throng of 45
fifth-graders, most of them sitting on the library rug. Four had been chosen to
sit in chairs and read prepared statements on gardening and the importance of
eating fruits and vegetables. One wrote about tomatoes, two wrote about broccoli
and a third rhapsodized about carrots.
"The tomato is a fruit and it's now my best friend," read Carlos Aguilar.
Tammy Nguyen waxed poetic on the virtues of gardening, saying, "Getting outside
She asked FLOTUS how the vegetables in the White House garden are doing and, it
being an organic garden, asked what kinds of insects had been discovered there.
Nguyen delivered the most detailed primer on vegetables, profiling the carrot.
Her profile began, "The carrot's history begins in eastern Asia "
She reminded FLOTUS and the assembled crowd of students, parents, teachers and
press that carrots have "a huge amount of Vitamin A," otherwise known as beta
"Here at Bancroft, we are big fans of carrots," she said. "We are also fans of
the first lady."
FLOTUS thanks the children for their presentations and complimented them for
their "graciousness, good manners, enthusiasm and energy."
"I am thrilled to be here," she said, reporting that the White House garden is
blooming and that White House chefs have already harvested 80 lbs. of lettuce
that guests "raved about."
They've also donated lettuce and honey to a local shelter, harvested rhubarb for
pie and cooked with "a lot of the herbs."
"We are using every single aspect of that garden," she said. "Things are going
well at the White House garden, thanks to you all."
Mrs. Obama also told the kids that the 2008 presidential campaign showed her how
eating fast food affected her family's health, remembering that many times,
there wasn't time to cook so the family grabbed something quick.
"It was take-out, it was processed food," she said. "It was everything quick and
easy, and we started to see that taking a toll on our health."
She said her children's pediatrician "gave me a little tap on the shoulder" and
suggested adding more fruits and vegetables and eliminating processed foods.
At 2:32 p.m., storm clouds gathered as FLOTUS stepped outside and toured the
schools' nine-year-old organic garden with teacher Toni Conklin.
"It is organic," Conklin later said. "We don't use pesticides at all." She said
students like it that way mostly because they enjoy the insects that stick
FLOTUS then grabbed a spade to help students plant a handful of items in a
raised bed. An aide stood by with two large black umbrellas, but Mrs. Obama beat
"I think we're O.K.," said assistant White House chef Sam Kass.
At 2:41, FLOTUS began the slow process of hugging the gathered fifth-graders,
now cordoned off behind a rope line off the garden. She then proceded to another
rope line on the other end of the garden -- this one with parents and teachers.
FLOTUS also picked up five-month-old Sarah Lydia McCoyer, the little sister of
two Bancroft students and daughter of PTA Vice President Rebecca McCoyer. FLOTUS
lingered over the well-behaved baby, then hugged Bancroft's principal and
slipped into a limousine at 2:45.
Sarah Lydia's mother said she buys organic whenever she can, at farmer's markets
and at Glut Food Co-op in Mt. Rainier. Their motto: "Still Cheap, Still Funky."