For Father’s Day, instead of buying it, I checked this new book out of the library for my husband. Long time readers of this blog have seen his amazing handiwork in our own garden; he’s very good with this stuff. I thought he’d be better candidate to write the review of this beautiful five star book than me, so here is his review:
American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America
by Michelle Obama
Michelle Obama may be the First Lady of the United States of America, but first and foremost she is a mother who is concerned with the health and well being of her family. What began years ago as an effort to feed her children healthy food has evolved into a passion for the health of a nation. The Kitchen Garden at the White House, begun by Mrs. Obama in 2009, has come to symbolize bringing the community together and a renewal of awareness concerning the kind of food we eat. She has taken on the issue of child obesity and its resulting health issues. Her goal: to goal to improve the health of the nation, one garden at a time.
The First Lady briefly traces the history of gardens at the White House, which goes all the way back to our second President, John Adams. She emphasizes the importance of the current garden as an opportunity to bring different parts of the community together. A broad and diverse “community” of people helped make the new garden possible, from the chefs in the White House kitchen, to National Park personnel, to scores of White House staff volunteering hours of weeding time, to buses of local school children who helped plant and harvest the gardens.
Obama, like any gardener, freely shares her successes and failures in the garden, lessons any gardener can identify with. She emphasizes what it takes to have successful community gardens and why they are important. “Without anyone expecting it, our garden has become a community garden, connecting people from all different backgrounds, ages and walks of life.”
The book is written in a friendly, conversational style, which is warm and inviting. It spotlights a handful of successful community gardens across America and how they are engaging children in food, health, and career choices related to farming and gardening. There are wonderful photos from all four seasons of the First Garden. The back of the book provides a few key resources for anyone interested in improving the health of our country’s children. And one of the highlights of the book is a section of delicious recipes from the chefs in the White House kitchen.
“Gardens bring individuals and communities together. They provide fresh, nutritious food for our families. They inspire and engage our children, teaching them the value of hard work and showing them just how delicious food can taste when it’s fresh from the vine,” Obama reiterates. She concludes, “For me, planting a garden was a way to help start a national conversation about the health of our children.” She urges people to join in this conversation, get involved in their communities, support and start community garden projects.