USA First Look

Melania Trump says she will make Michelle Obama's White House garden her own

Evoking her role as a 'caretaker and nurturer,' Melania Trump has indicated she will preserve Michelle Obama's White House Kitchen Garden.

First lady Melania Trump (c.) and Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, listen as park administrator Bonnie White Lemay (r.) gives a tour of the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, Fla., on Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017.
Michael Ares/Palm Beach Post via AP | Caption

While the West Wing might be busy revoking many of former President Barack Obama's policies, the East Wing is extending at least one significant legacy from the former presidency – the White House Kitchen Garden.

After touring the Morikami Museum and its six Japanese-inspired gardens in Delray Beach, Fla., with Akie Abe, wife of Japanese Prime Minister, Melania Trump on Saturday signaled that she will continue and preserve both the Kitchen Garden and the Rose Garden in the Oval Office.

"Both our countries histories and cultures are steeped in the nurture and nature of gardening," Mrs. Trump said in a statement, according to CNN. "Gardening teaches us the fundamentals in care and the evolution of living things, all while inspiring us to nurture our minds and to relax and strengthen our bodies."

The announcement, which came after the first lady’s first public solo event, was followed by another statement from her senior adviser, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, affirming the first lady’s devotion to sustain the gardens.

“The First Lady has a deep personal commitment to her role as caretaker and nurturer, beginning with her family,” Ms. Wolkoff said in a statement to CNN. “She believes there is a connection between a child's mind and places of calm and beauty to be used as a tool for us all.”

The declaration clarifies the future of the Kitchen Garden. While all former first ladies had different versions of the first garden, which was first completed in 1800, it was transformed by former Michelle Obama and has become a symbol of her effort to promote nutrition and healthy living. As The Christian Science Monitor noted in October:

“The garden, which has doubled in size since Obama started it in 2009, has become a symbol of her efforts to fight childhood obesity and promote healthy living among American families. Her Let’s Move! campaign has been met with criticism from Republicans and unhappy schoolchildren. Yet, she hopes the next administration will continue to build on the modest successes she has seen.”

The produce harvested from the garden, from lettuce, to radish, to broccoli, has found its way not only to events at the White House, but also to local soup kitchens.

With Mrs. Obama’s departure, $2.5 million in private donations and an agreement between the White House and the National Park Service in October ensured its upkeep into the next presidency and on through at least the next 17 years.

“This has truly become a movement and it certainly won’t end when I leave the White House because we’ve still got a long way to go before we solve this problem,” Mrs. Obama said at that time. “I am hopeful that future first families will cherish this garden like we have, and that it will become one of our enduring White House traditions.”

Though it is still unclear what the first garden will look like under the new president, Mrs. Trump said she hopes she and Ms. Abe “can continue to inspire our youth to enjoy the beauty around them and to restore their minds in the peacefulness of their surroundings.”