A few weekends ago, my sister Jessie came to visit DC from South Carolina. I met her and her roommate in the city for adventures and a visit. One really cool thing that happened was that, randomly, the White House Gardens and Grounds were open to the public. Apparently, this only happens once a year. Tours are available through school trips, but not for just anyone, so we really lucked out!
We had breakfast in Georgetown at a French restaurant, Le Pain Quotidien. It was a really cute place with an earthy feel. Most of their products were organic and they baked all of their bread on site, so you could sit down for a meal or just grab a loaf for later. It was a little pricey for broke college students, but if you have a real job or parents with you, not completely unreasonable. The food was really good, however the service was not. I hate to be negative, but they seem to be authentically French, allowing meals to be leisurely without much hustle. It was parents weekend for Georgtown, so I’m guessing it was busier than usual and I think that our waiter must have been new. If you know this going into the restaurant, I’m sure it would be fine, just budget a large amount of time for the meal.
After breakfast, we made a mad dash for the White House and got there just in time for the last tour! We entered the grounds and had a self guided excursion. We got right up close to the white house itself, about 25 feet from the entrance. After that we wandered around and they had photos set up on the lawn, depicting past presidents and first lady’s planting trees, shrubs, and other landscaping done over the years.
Then we saw Sasha and Malia’s jungle gym, the tennis courts, putting green, the relatively new addition of the basketball court as well as fountains and small gardens.
The last section of the tour was the vegetable garden that Michelle Obama started to promote home gardening as part of her campaign to prevent childhood obesity. The garden is also featured in her book, American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America. It was really neat to see after hearing so much about it in the media. It was very beautiful with a wide variety of produce, 55 in total.
To accompany the garden, the Obama’s have brought in their own bees for pollination. My grandfather is a beekeeper so I have always had an interest in them. It wasn’t obvious if they harvested honey from the bees or just let them chill out with the flowers.
Overall, it was a great day and I’m really happy that I was able to see the White House close up as well as tour the impeccably manicured lawns and gardens. After absorbing the culture and dignity of it all, had a little fun in our photo shoot, a staple in any Baier trip.
Do you have any stories about starting or working with a vegetable garden?