Ahead of the Obamas’ departure from the White House in January 2017, First Lady Michelle Obama has ensured that a piece of her legacy remains intact long after she leaves.
The White House announced on Oct. 5 that the Burpee Foundation and the W. Atlee Burpee Company donated $2.5 million toward Obama’s Kitchen Garden.
The newly renovated and now much larger garden—2,800 feet—was updated with an arbor, benches, a table, and walkways.
Under the arbor is an inscription 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.”
“And I have to tell you that being here with all of you, overlooking this beautiful garden—and it is beautiful—it’s kind of an emotional moment,” said Obama at the unveiling on Wednesday.
“We’re having a lot of these emotional moments because everything is the last. But this is particularly my baby because this garden is where it all started. So we’re really coming full circle back to the very beginning.”
Ms. Obama shared the backstory of the garden, which began before her husband was elected as president. According to the First Lady, she brainstormed ideas with Sam Kass, then the Obama family chef, about what she’d like her issue to be were her husband to take office, ultimately deciding she wanted to focus on the health of children and their eating habits.
Since starting the Kitchen Garden on the South Lawn in 2009, Obama has led the national conversation about childhood obesity, with the Let’s Move Initiative. Established in 2010, the initiative aimed to help kids and families lead healthier lives through daily physical activity and healthier food choices.
Obama intends for her mission to outlast her tenure as First Lady.
“So let’s be very clear, this isn’t just a trend. It’s not a passing fad. This healthy eating stuff, it’s here to stay, and we now have everything we need to seize the opportunity and give all our kids the healthy futures they so richly deserve,” she said.
Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will inherit the garden.
Throughout President Barack Obama’s tenure, the White House Kitchen Garden has become a staple for fresh vegetables and fruits. It supplied fare to the First Family, guests at White House events—including world leaders attending State Dinners—and for those in need in the local community.
Obama, who has previously welcomed students to participate in the garden’s harvesting, welcomed students for the last time on Thursday. The president was joined in the garden by students from Washington D.C.’s Bancroft Elementary School and Harriet Tubman Elementary School, all regular participants of the project.