3 Things I Learned Reading Michelle Obama’s American Grown

The First Lady’s “Let’s Move” program has demonstrated her commitment to combating childhood obesity through diet and exercise. And she clearly believes in the many benefits of eating locally grown foods.

But what I found most charming about American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America is Michelle Obama’s warm-hearted look at the history of the White House Gardens and community gardens across the country.

I picked up a copy American Grown because I admire Michelle Obama, not because I was interested in gardening (also: it’s a gorgeous coffee table book). But I was so inspired while reading it, I created a windowsill container garden in our apartment.

Here are three simple things I put into practice after reading American Grown:

1. Don’t Be Afraid to Be Bold. If Michelle Obama can dig up part of the pristine South Lawn at the White House to plant her vegetable garden, then I can create a little garden in my apartment. The miracle of seedlings bursting through the soil is totally worth all the mess and fuss.

2. Grow What You Like to Eat. Obama talks about how she raises bees primarily for one of her favorite snacks, apples and honey (which she says “tastes like sunshine”). For me, peppers were the place to start – easy to grow and I love them all, in all their different shapes, sizes and colors.

3. Enjoy the (Fleeting) Moment. This was an unexpected bit of learning, influenced by the cyclical reality of my little indoor garden. Some plants thrive, others wither. Obama talks about this, about how gardens connect us with the seasons and the earth. My peppers are so fleeting: they grow, ripen, and then disappear into a delicious sauce or salad. I savor every step along the way.

I’ve been thinking, too, of the potentially fleeting nature of Michelle Obama’s Kitchen Garden itself.

With the Obamas leaving the White House next month, it may be the end of her garden … but her message will carry on in all the family gardens she’s inspired, like mine.



Photo Credit: Quentin Bacon Photography

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