THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the First Lady
For Immediate Release May 7, 2013
REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY
AT “AMERICAN GROWN” BOOK SIGNING
Politics and Prose Bookstore
11:16 A.M. EDT
MRS. OBAMA: Oh, my goodness. Thank you. Thank you for coming out on this really wet Tuesday. Not so good for standing outside, but really good for gardeners, this rain.
I am very excited. This is my third book signing — maybe it’s only my second. It’s my second book signing. Because if you recall, when the book came out we were in the middle of this campaign, or something or other. So we were a little busy. But I am very excited to be with you all today.
As many of you know, this is my very first book. Never done a book before. But this is an — is that — oh, thank you. (Laughter and applause.) But what a great first book to be able to tell the tale of the White House garden. And I hope you guys enjoy it.
I want to thank our hosts, Lissa and Bradley, who are the owners of this wonderful bookstore — a real staple of this community. The first time I’ve been able to be here. (Applause.) Thank you for hosting us.
I want to recognize the Dwiggins family, who are highlighted in the book. They work on a community garden in North Carolina, which is one of the many community gardens that are highlighted in the book. It’s great to meet you in person. Thank you for allowing us to share your story in “American Grown.”
But that’s also part of what this book is. It’s not just the story of the White House Kitchen Garden; it’s the story of community gardens all across this country, because the truth is the idea of the White House garden is not unique. Community gardens are a mainstay in so many communities across this country, from rural America to my neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. There’s a community garden in one of the parks that I grew up using as part of the camp project. Rainbow Beach day camp has one of the first-ever community gardens. And I didn’t even realize that until I started writing this book and doing the research.
But community gardens are a significant part of the history of this country, which is why we thought it was important to incorporate these stories in the telling of the White House garden story.
But my goal in this book is to share the story of the creation of the garden, because while it is semi-open to the public — because if you visit the White House along the South Lawn, you can see the garden from outside of the White House. But millions of people don’t get a chance to come to Washington. They hear about the garden; they don’t get an opportunity to see it. So we wanted to use this as an opportunity to tell people about how we started it and how we thought about it, who all is involved, what kind of role Bo plays — he’s a very significant part of the book.
And we also wanted to talk about — to use it as a way to talk about one of the issues that is important to me and has been something that I’ve talked about a lot as First Lady, is ending the epidemic of childhood obesity. Because the garden was really a way to begin this conversation about how do we educate our children about the food they eat and how it impacts their body and how all of that affects their health, and encourage our children to eat healthy and eat more vegetables and to get more exercise, which is the whole goal of Let’s Move.
So all of that is a part of this book, and it’s trying to do a little bit of everything. It’s a beautiful picture book. There are beautiful pictures that let you on the inside of what happens behind the scenes. But there are great stories. There are wonderful recipes in there shared by the White House chefs. So it’s doing a lot.
And I found that my girls really enjoy just thumbing through and looking at the pictures, but slowly but surely they started to actually read what was in there. (Laughter.) And that’s really the hope — that the pictures draw people of all ages in and then they start to read it and maybe start thinking about how to start a garden on their own, because there are many ways to do it. You don’t have to have many acres. You don’t have to have a staff. You can have a few containers. There are schools that are starting gardens and they’re using it as part of the curriculum, and we talk about that in the book as well. So hopefully there are some useful tips for gardeners and would-be gardeners and non-gardeners.
So I hope you all enjoy the book. Another important thing about this book is that all the proceeds — 100 percent of them — go to the National Park Foundation, which is really critical because it’s going to help support the — yes, indeed. (Applause.) Those funds are going to help support the White House Kitchen Garden and other community gardens across this country.
So buy away. It’s Mother’s Day. (Laughter.) It’s coming up. I would say that I was going to give this as a gift to my mother, but she already has, like, 10 copies. (Laughter.) But I might buy her another one just for the heck of it. But it’s a great gift, and hopefully you share it with your family and friends.
And with that, I’m going to meet you guys, sign books and — (laughter) — thank you. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you!
MRS. OBAMA: I love you, too. Love you, too. You all have just been tremendous supporters and we’re just — I am just proud to be the First Lady of this country. Thank you all so much. (Applause.)
END 11:21 A.M. EDT