American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America
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American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  587 ratings  ·  130 reviews
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 bo...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published May 29th 2012 by Crown (first published January 1st 2012)
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Community Reviews

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Naomi
This book was just all around cool and unusual. Can I give it more than 5 stars?!?!

First off, Mrs. Obama gave a history of gardening in the US focusing on the Victory Gardens of WWII. I have heard alot about them, but it was interesting to see how they had impacted her family while before she was born and while she was growing up. I loved the fact that she demostrated bringing children into the WH and teaching them about food sustainability. I think gardening is a lost artform in a country surro...more
Ruthie Jones
I love every single thing about this book! Every.Single.Thing!

The story of the White House Kitchen Garden is interesting and inspiring, and the side stories and history really bring everything into focus. Let's create a healthy earth, healthy bodies, healthy families, and healthy communities. It can be done!

The section on the honey bee hives is great! I love honey!

I also like that the book is broken down by seasons in the White House Kitchen Garden (along with the hits and misses), and how so ma...more
Karah
I love Michelle Obama and I love gardening so when I saw this book at the library, I was excited to pick it up and look though it. I honestly didn't know what to expect-- sometimes the books with the best covers and subjects just don't end up being worth the time. But, I am happy to report that this one was a fun, perfect for summer, light read.

Mrs. Obama's book spends a bit of time going through the history of gardens at the White House. She points out Presidents who were especially avid garde...more
Linda
I was hoping that this book would go in-depth about the White House garden and its planning stages and the maintenance required so that it would inspire others to try planting their own gardens. Unfortunately, this is not what this book is about. Luckily, the First Lady is very charming and enthusiastic, so this book was still enjoyable, because it is actually a primer on her own goals during the administration.

Each chapter is named after a season, but the writing is not limited to a seasonal t...more
Anna King
When talking about nutrition and you never mention Dietitians, hard for me to like your book. I respect and appreciate the national discussion she is creating. However, I feel she could pull in the actual field of Nutrition and Dietetics to help with education from certified specialists.
Leah
First Lady Michelle Obama is so awesome. Let's grow stuff!
Angie
When Michelle Obama came to the White House she decided to start a garden. She was inspired by the Victory Gardens of times past and community gardens. She wanted the White House Garden to be America's Garden. She wanted to start a dialog about eating fresh and local and to inspire others. The White House Garden became very successful and its message has been heard in schools and communities across the country. This book details how the garden was planned and implemented, what activities have oc...more
Amy
Aug 20, 2012 Amy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: cooking
I picked this book up because I have great respect and admiration for Michelle Obama. I think it is wonderful that she was able to start the White House Kitchen Garden. This book talks about how the idea came about and the struggles they had getting it started. I found it interesting how the garden is used for many things such as teaching children, providing fresh vegetables for the White House chefs to use, providing extra resources for the local soup kitchen, and a feeling of community for the...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
Oct 22, 2012 Christina (A Reader of Fictions) rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: people who freaking love gardens
Shelves: audiobook
Originally posted on A Reader of Fictions.

It is perhaps readily apparent that this audiobook lies way outside the scope of my ordinary reading. Way, way outside. However, since it was given to me, I resolved to listen to it, despite my lack of interest. I expected to be bored to tears with gardening tips, but it really wasn't that bad. Not exactly a glowing commendation, but, considering how little the subject matter has to do with me, that's fair praise.

The focus does lie primarily on gardening...more
Beth
This is not a book about politics. I just want to clear that up off the bat. Just because I'm reviewing and praising a book written by Michelle Obama does not mean I'm using my blog to endorse any sort of political platform.

Then again, in a way, maybe I am. I think Michelle Obama's message and mission for making healthy food more accessible to all Americans is a necessary one. Obesity and the afflictions that accompany it like type 2 diabetes and heart disease are running rampant through our nat...more
Bethany
This was a beautiful book not only about the White House Kitchen Garden, but also about how to make your own garden and make your life (and community) more healthy. The book took you through the garden in each season, describing the difficulties and successes with different plants and how various ideas for the garden worked out. There were also interesting asides by people like the head chef of the White House and the National Park Service horticulturalist who helped make the garden a reality. (...more
Maren
Whatever your political leanings, you have to agree with Michelle Obama about the need to improve the health and nutrition of America's children. This book is her story of what she has done with the White House Garden and her Let's Move initiative. It seemed somewhat propaganda-ish in that she was touting all these amazing things that are happening...but if you have to write a book to bring it to people's attention maybe it isn't as successful as you'd like to think. However, it is a huge issue,...more
Jodi
In many ways this is a fascinating and useful look at the benefits of planting a vegetable garden. It certainly made me want to plant one. But the audiobook was seriously hindered by not having professional narrators. The real people, the real White House staff sounded stilted and without the enthusiasm that otherwise shined through in the prose. Michelle Obama was clearly enthusiastic about this project. It reminded her of simpler times growing up but in Chicago, simpler times didn't mean havin...more
Debra Daniels-zeller
I didn't expect this book to be so inspiring. I liked learning about the history of gardens in the White House and the profiles of community gardens across the country was a big bonus. I was happy to see a profile of the original Picardo P-Patch community garden in Seattle. One of my friends used to garden there. I was a little suprised about the section devoted to Michelle Obama's Childhood Obesity program, but the garden was inspired to encourage young people to make healthy food choices. The...more
Jacqui N
This book is meant to inspire and be informative at the same time without being intimidating. Mrs. Obama was the first to admit her doubts and anxieties when starting her first garden, just like anyone else on their first attempt. The book is divided into the four seasons, and I love how there is a line drawing diagramming the garden for each season, the layout of the beds, and what was planted in them. On the next page was a two-page spread photograph showing the actual garden. I found that ver...more
Joy Weese Moll
I loved the way American Grown is organized, four seasons for four themes while the story of the White House garden is woven seamlessly throughout.

The Spring section was all about the beginning of the garden, including the first planting day with the help of local fifth-graders. There are also tips for starting your own garden and making use of the produce in the kitchen.

The summer section covers community gardens and farmers’ markets around the country and how the White House garden serves as a...more
Amanda
I picked this up from the library knowing it wasn't anything but some fun reading. I'm trying really hard to gear up for gardening this year and figured a book about the White House garden would spur me in the right direction.

Obama is a charming writer. Her enthusiasm for what she is writing about comes through. She is very clearly happy about the garden and what it is teaching everyone who comes and volunteers to tend it. They invite hordes of schoolchildren to help out and celebrities come as...more
Alison
My reasons for grabbing this off of the new release shelf at my library were not political, although the timing was interesting because I read it a few days before the re-election. Rather, I am a sucker for gardening books and I grew up 5 miles from the White House and was interested in the whole behind the scenes look at the vegetable garden.

Mrs. Obama put together a really nice book with the help of talented photographers, chefs, and rangers from the White House grounds. The information about...more
April
Received this book as a gift and read it cover to cover! The First Lady describes the ups and downs of the White House Kitchen Garden, organizing the book into seasons (summer, fall, winter, spring). Each chapter includes growing tips, related history (I had no idea that they had community gardens/vegetable trucks during WWII), vignettes about local food/healthy eating across the nation (loved these!) and recipes (I made the spinach pie and it was yum-yums). It's inspiring to know that people no...more
Megan
This was actually a pretty interesting book. It's more of a coffee-table book than something you'd typically sit down and read straight through, but there was interesting information about the White House garden (and gardeners) as well as stories of community gardens / healthy food initiatives nation-wide.

I'm also a sucker for images of freshly picked vegetables, which this book had in abundance.
Steele Dimmock
This book is just very cute.
Michelle talks through the creating of the White House veggie garden and the minute details involved in this activity. Although, the central tenant about being conscious of your food, eating organically grown (preferably your own) natural food.

A good read for any parent or person aware that the food they eat needs to be improved.

Rachel
This was an absolutely wonderful book. Not a chapter when by where I didn't learn something new, and the material was presented in a very down-to-earth way. A great book for first-time gardeners, as it lists gardening success as 'feed the soil' and 'grow what you like to eat'. There were also recipes at the end for cooking some of the produce.
Rebecca Scaglione (Love at First Book)
You might remember a few months ago when I was lucky enough to meet Michelle Obama, shake her hand, and get an autographed copy of her book, American Grown.

It was amazing, and thanks to my Aunt M, who came with me, I had an extra copy of the book to giveaway, which I did.

Anyway, I wanted to actually read the book, and since it’s a nonfiction book that is more coffee table than novel, it took some time. But it was so worth it.

Michelle Obama shows how deeply she cares about gardens, fresh food, he...more
Barbara
This is a wonderful compendium of so many things. It's about Mrs. Obama's down-to-earth motherhood of the country, her glamour, her deep existential joy--all those things. It's about the national re-tilling of the victory garden with all the hope that that spadework conveys to an undernourished and overfed people at war with their bodies. It's about Bo, the national muppet of a dog, whom the reader will learn takes his oversight of the garden seriously and makes us laugh in doing so. And it's ab...more
Holly
It's not an in-depth how-to on gardening, but a coffee-table book, really. Not meant to be read in one sitting.
I loved that the First Lady put a kitchen garden back at the white house. I would have liked a little more info on the workings of the garden, like why certain things were planted together, but there are other books for that, and she does include a nice bibliography.
The part about the white house beehive was very interesting. I was also impressed that they give away about a third of th...more
Julie Barrett
American Grown: The Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens Across America by Michele O'Bama
Starts out with why Michele O'Bama was raised, remembering fresh food in the neighborhood and also playing outside, walking to school.
Today children don't play outside or have much of a recess anymore and are getting obese. Her idea to get kids moving and to make sure everybody has more fresh food that they can grow themselves.
Struggles Mrs. O'Bama came across when she went to plant the garden...more
Catherine
I enjoyed this book about the White House Kitchen Garden. A brief history of gardens at the White House begins with John Adams (bummer to plant a garden and then not be reelected). I really liked the tidy diagrams showing the crop layout for each season--there are a few “Thomas Jefferson” beds planted with seeds/cuttings obtained from Monticello--and the stories of local children who help with planting and come back for the harvest.

Community and school gardens, past and present, are discussed i...more
Anna
Jul 16, 2013 Anna rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: gifts
American Grown is a really beautiful book. The pictures are lovely. I love that lots of kids are involved in the White House garden. Some of the statistics on childhood obesity and the huge increase in the number of people who fail the military fitness tests (something like quadrupling in five years!) are frightening for the future. Good for the President doing something about the school breakfasts, lunches and vending machines! Sadly overdue. That beverage lobby is very powerful so I'm surprise...more
Anthony St. Clair
As home cooks and gardeners in Oregon, it is inspiring to see the First Lady lead by example in bringing our society back to basics for food and fitness. The book shines with compelling stories—some of which had me pretty teary-eyed—about grassroots food and garden programs throughout the country, not just the White House Garden.

It's interesting to hear about the successes, failures, challenges and vision that have gone in to the White House Garden. Even there, gardening is not a guaranteed succ...more
Alex
The part I enjoyed the most was the history of the gardens of the White House. It's surprising that there hasn't really been an edible garden on the grounds before now. The stories to establish an apiary were also amusing. A lot of the remainder is inspirational stories about local/sustainable foods and encouragement to grow something of your own.

Some things that could have been done better is re-jiggering things that were clearly bulleted lists in the text version so that they sound more natur...more
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Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama is the wife of the forty-fourth President of the United States, Barack Obama, and is the first African-American First Lady of the United States.

She was born and grew up on the South Side of Chicago and graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School. After completing her formal education, she returned to Chicago and accepted a position with the law firm...more
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