|The Kitchen Garden, flourishing|
Washington, DC - First Lady Michelle Obama will welcome elementary school children from three states and DC for a fall harvest event in her Kitchen Garden on Wednesday, Oct. 30th, her office announced on Monday. Sesame Street characters Elmo and Rosita will also join the First Lady.
Less than two weeks after the government reopened following the shutdown, Mrs. Obama's world-famous plot, the symbol of her Let's Move! campaign, has now recovered after a period of headline-making chaos in the crop rows.
|Swiss chard, newly transplanted|
First planted by Mrs. Obama in 2009, the garden is now restored and lush with fruits and vegetables awaiting the plucking party. And some new crops have been transplanted in.
During the government shutdown, the plot could only be watered by the 'skeletal' crew of National Park Service gardeners who remained on duty, while the rest of the White House grounds staff were on mandatory furlough.
The restoration began immediately after the government reopened on Oct. 17.
|Sungold tomatoes, cleaned of dead vines|
Gone, too, are the volunteer mushrooms that sprang up during heavy rains.
|Broccoli ready for harvest|
The crops include lettuces, collards, a wide variety of peppers, kale, Swiss chard, okra, tomatoes, broccoli, sweet potatoes--a favorite of President Obama's--beans, squash, a variety of herbs, some end-of-season raspberries, and a few Presidential pumpkins, just in time for Halloween.
Among the new items are young Swiss chard, and baby Tennis Ball lettuces in the Thomas Jefferson bed, which pays homage to America's third president.
|Jefferson quote, with Fish peppers|
The quote reads "...the failure of one thing, repaired by the success of another; and instead of one harvest, a continued one throughout the year."
There's more going on: incredibly tall okra plants that grow at the back of the garden were laden with ripe pods during the shutdown. These have now been harvested. More juvenile pods are still growing on the plants, which are now about twelve feet tall.
|Tennis Ball lettuce in Jefferson bed, newly transplanted|
The Kitchen Garden is home to three fruit trees, which all weathered the shutdown with no apparent problems.
A Marseilles fig, propagated from a sapling at Jefferson's historic plantation home Monticello, in Charlottesville, VA, has been growing since 2009. There's a dwarf papaya tree that lives in a pot and is moved indoors in winter. It is currently bearing fruit, though some of the papayas have now been removed.
There is also a four-year-old Virginia Beauty apple tree, added when Mrs. Obama planted the garden for Spring earlier this year. It has not yet fruited.
|Peppers ready for harvest|
And as for the fox who made his own headlines during the shutdown? There's still no word on his whereabouts, a White House source told Obama Foodorama.
The children joining Mrs. Obama for Wednesday's harvest will be from schools in DC, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, Mrs. Obama's office said. For the first time in the history of the garden, costumed characters will join Mrs. Obama for the plucking party--rather than her usual high-profile guests--celebrity chefs.
|A Presidential pumpkin|
The invited school children are from Magnolia Elementary School in Joppa, MD; Linwood Holton Elementary School in Richmond, VA; and North Elementary School in Morgantown, WV, the East Wing said.
|New okra pods and buds on the plants|
The harvest party will come on the heels of "an announcement about marketing healthier foods to children" earlier on Wednesday, the East Wing said.
|The Jefferson bed is in front, with artichoke, l|
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*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama