As her time in the White House draws to a close, Michelle Obama is doing what she can to set her legacy in stone. On Wednesday afternoon, the First Lady — one of America’s most popular public figures — unveiled an improved and expanded version of the vegetable garden that she’s maintained on the South Lawn since 2009.
Politico quotes the author Marta McDowell, who recently penned All the Presidents’ Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses — How the White House Grounds Have Grown With America as saying that Obama’s steel, stone, and cement fortification is “brilliant” and will deter future first families from altering the area.
“I take great pride in knowing that this little garden will live on as a symbol of the hopes and dreams we all hold, of growing a healthier nation for our children,” Obama said at the dedication ceremony. Even in its smaller, earlier state, the garden has been seen as broadly representative of the First Lady’s policy goals, which have centered on childhood obesity and nutrition.
While the future configuration of the South Lawn will be at the discretion of the Obamas’ successors, arrangements for the garden’s maintenance have been made with the National Park Service. Additionally, the Obamas have secured a $2.5 million private fund to cover costs, so as to move the burden off of taxpayers.