Saturday, March 15, 2014

American Grown by Michelle Obama

I found a cool looking book by our First Lady in the local library's gardening section.  I have my own victory/kitchen garden so the story of the White House Kitchen Garden caught my eye.  My grandparents on both sides were big believers in the idea that every home needed a kitchen garden.  I have amazing memories of shelling lima beans on my grandma's back porch with my aunts, mother and grandma.  I can even still remember loving the taste of the beans fresh from the shells.  I learned to pit cherries sitting in the grass at my grandma's knee in the shade of the cherry trees in her yard.  My grandma made the most amazing peach freezer jam from the peaches that grew in her back yard.  Peaches in Ohio are like nectar of the gods after a long freezing cold Ohio winter.  We grew up eating fresh kohlrabi at summer cook outs.  I thought everyone grew up knowing how to can and put up jams, jellies, pickles and more from the garden.  Our garden just outside my back door now feeds my husband, children and even our Bearded Dragon, Robin.  We grow collards, edible nasturiums, herbs for teas and salves, tomatoes to can and cucumbers to pickle.  Each year the children, my husband and I work together to plan the garden, prepare the garden, plant the garden, tend it and harvest from the garden.  It is a big project that brings us closer together, makes us healthier and teaches the children about the foods that they eat.

In April 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama planted a kitchen garden on the White House’s South Lawn. As fresh vegetables, fruit, and herbs sprouted from the ground, this White House Kitchen Garden inspired a new conversation all across the country about the food we feed our families and the impact it has on the health and well-being of our children.

Now, in her first-ever book, American Grown, Mrs. Obama invites you inside the White House Kitchen Garden and shares its inspiring story, from the first planting to the latest harvest. Hear about her worries as a novice gardener – would the new plants even grow? Learn about her struggles and her joys as lettuce, corn, tomatoes, collards and kale, sweet potatoes and rhubarb flourished in the freshly tilled soil. Get an unprecedented behind-the-scenes look at every season of the garden’s growth, with striking original photographs that bring its story to life. Try the unique recipes created by White House chefs and made with ingredients just picked from the White House garden. And learn from the White House Garden team about how you can help plant your own backyard, school or community garden.

Mrs. Obama’s journey continues across the nation as she shares the stories of other gardens that have moved and inspired her: Houston office workers who make the sidewalk bloom; a New York City School that created a scented garden for the visually impaired; a North Carolina garden that devotes its entire harvest to those in need; and other stories of communities that are transforming the lives and health of their citizens.

In American Grown, Mrs. Obama tells the story of the White House Kitchen Garden, celebrates the bounty of gardens across our nation, and reminds us all of what we can grow together.

The writing in this book is so lovely as we follow the First Lady's journey in planting the White House Kitchen Garden. She gives us a great deal of interesting history on the gardens at the White House.  There are a bunch of great recipes in the book that make use of fresh produce.  I also liked the suggestions on how to start or expand your own garden.  The First Lady also has a number of stories about how the gardening movement is sweeping the nation.  Communities and school everywhere are trying to bring gardens to the masses.  Each garden featured is different and interesting.  Some are urban and squeezed into small spaces.  Some are found in small towns across the US, where communities come together to grow their own produce.  What amazing stories!  There was not one thing about this book that I did not like.  I really loved it.  I think I will be purchasing some copies to give as Christmas gifts this year.

You can find it on Goodreads here.  I give this book 5 Fairies for a great read from new and experienced gardeners alike.

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