Prior to the event Jon Traunfeld, our fearless Statewide Master Gardener leader, caught up with Charlie Brandt – the White House Beekeeper (who knew?), who arranged for us to be there to talk with the visitors about Grow It Eat It.
Mercifully, I was assigned to the afternoon shift. The morning shift, bravely staffed by Extension Office personnel Ria Malloy, Robin Hessey, Lynn Jacobson, along with Jon had to be there by 7 AM. Yikes! But they were dauntless, and they showed up with live vegetable plants, harvested vegetables, and lots of GIEI cards and seeds to give away. I arrived at lunchtime, but was unable to get on to the grounds because Mrs. Obama was socializing with guests and thus there was a complete lockdown until she departed safely. So I didn’t get to see the First Family, but Jon and the gang did. I believe they also got a tour of the White House Garden, which was just behind the area where we had our display.
Though I didn’t get to go inside, I snapped a few photos with you, the reader, in mind:
Nice, huh? Our table was basically in front of the garden, but separated by a snow fence so folks couldn’t wander through. Speaking of which, here’s our table, being showcased by Prince George’s County’s own Esther Mitchell:You can see the beautiful salad box on the left, a tray of potting soil in the center in which children could plant bean or pumpkin seeds (for some reason they greatly preferred pumpkin to bean), a shadow box of mounted wasp and bee specimens, and a basket of fresh veggies.
I have to say that I was genuinely impressed by the enthusiasm that the vast majority of visitors expressed about growing their own vegetables. Some were seasoned gardeners; many were planning to try for the first time. The first-timers, in particular, were so grateful to be given the leafy green seeds and the GIEI information. They generally left the table more excited than when they approached, and I like to think perhaps a little more confident that they could succeed.
Here’s a photo of me, Jon, and Esther. My apologies to Robin, Ria, and Lynn, who left before I had a chance to snap a photo of all of us:
Special mention goes to Jon, who awoke at 3:45 AM to arrive early for setting up, and then staying until the last guest left at 6:45 PM! You’re a real trooper! Once I finally got inside, I, too, remained until closing as well to help Jon close up shop. Personally, though I was pretty beat by the end, I found the whole day energizing – I love it when people get excited about growing veggies!
With any luck, we’ll be invited back next year…