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The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation.  The interactive site brings daily news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.
kid reporter alexandra zhang at the white house fall harvest Kid Reporter Alexandra Zhang at the White House kitchen garden fall harvest in Washington, D.C. (Photo courtesy Alexandra Zhang)

White House Garden Harvest

Youngsters get their hands dirty with good food

By Alexandra Zhang | October 27 , 2010

"Let's harvest those vegetables!" exclaimed The First Lady to an excited crowd of determined kids from Bancroft Elementary and Tubman Elementary. The kids were at the White House in Washington, D.C. for what is becoming an annual event to harvest vegetables from the First Family's kitchen garden.

The White House vegetable garden is a symbol of growing local foods in the U.S. and a part of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to fight childhood obesity nationwide. The garden is used by White House chefs to prepare meals. The harvest helps raise awareness for the need to eat more fresh foods.

"I think the kids and adults should incorporate fruits and veggies into their diet and eat healthy," David Luersen, a White House chef, told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps at the event.

Shovels banged on wooden plant boxes as the kids worked together to harvest a variety of edibles. Mrs. Obama tackled sweet potatoes with red-violet skins. Some of those potatoes were really big, and in all shapes and sizes. One sweet potato looked like three sweet potatoes all strung together.

In another area, a group of kids harvested broccoli. It was hard work slashing through the vines growing in front of the grass-green broccoli. Eventually, a proud, smiling group of students presented their results.

A White House chef worked with another group on bright orange pumpkins, which gleamed visibly among the green vines. The pumpkins were harder to cut from their tough thick vines, but in the end they were added to the feast.

food harvested at the white house garden
The results of the fall harvest of vegetables by local students at the White House kitchen garden. (Photo courtesy Alexandra Zhang)


Lettuce and Swiss chard proved much easier to harvest for the group assigned the leafy portion of the garden. All they had to do was cut the soft greens from bunches.

Cherry red tomatoes hung from vines propped up by sticks. A good pull brought them down into the baskets.

Purple-skinned eggplants piled up in a wheelbarrow. Red and green peppers and green spinach were added, while in a far corner, kids successfully harvested green beans. Okra, flame, kohlrabi, fennel, Florence, collards, thyme, stevia, dill, and other cuttings this Kid Reporter couldn't identify were all included in a big bowl of salad.

Veggies representing all the colors of the rainbow pilled up to make a beautiful presentation from the pleased young harvesters to the press. A lot of good picking resulted in a harvest so sumptuous it resembled a painting.

"I loved the part when we met Michelle Obama and when she talked with us," Bancroft student Cecile told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps. "I thought it was great when we were harvesting vegetables."

Messy hands were a must-have, as kids exclaimed in delight over the garden earth in their fingernails.

"My favorite part so far was getting dirty!" said Cecile's friend Sheila.

One goal of the event was to show young people how vegetables grow.

"Everyone doesn't know that potatoes come from the ground," said Sam Kass, another White House chef on hand for the harvest. "And also it's to promote healthy eating."

Of course, after the harvest, comes the preparation and eating. One group of students washed the veggies while another group cut them up and put them in a salad. They had determined faces as chefs walked around to lend guidance. Observers could see they were bursting with pride as they worked.

"I think it is excellent, how if you plant a seed, it'll grow into something bigger," said one of the photographers on hand. "I hope the kids will learn something new."

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