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Maria Shriver announces plan for garden

March 25, 2009 |  1:07 pm

Mariashriver Just days after Michelle Obama broke ground for a vegetable garden on the White House lawn, California’s first lady announced that Sacramento is getting a public edible garden too.

Maria Shriver announced Monday that a garden will be planted in May in a flower bed on the east end of Capitol Park in Sacramento.

“This new garden will bring awareness to children, students and visitors about the important role of food, where it comes from, nutritional value, how it is grown and harvested and ultimately how it reaches the tables of those who need it most,” she said in a statement.

Shriver said she will get help from state Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura, the California School Garden Network and the chef Alice Waters, who has been a vocal advocate for school and public edible gardens.

It hasn’t been decided what crops will be planted, but the demonstration garden will be open to students and other visitors, and any crops are likely to go to a food bank, said Shriver’s spokesman, Francisco Castillo.

Shriver has been honorary chairwoman of the school garden network for five years, and in that time the number gardens in the program has doubled, reaching 6,000 last year, Castillo said.

“One of the first things I did as first lady of California was visit the Edible Schoolyard, Alice Waters’ organic gardening and kitchen program at a public middle school in Berkeley,” Shriver said.

“We applaud her efforts to bring food into the state agenda, where it belongs,” said Waters, who established the Edible Schoolyard and the School Lunch Initiative at the Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, home to her restaurant, Chez Panisse.

Last week, First Lady Michelle Obama joined elementary schoolchildren to break ground for a vegetable garden at the White House.

She joked that everyone in her family would help weed, whether they wanted to or not, but she also said the garden was part of an overall campaign to increase awareness of and appreciation for local, nutritious foods. More than 100,000 people -- Waters among them -- had signed an online petition urging the Obamas to plant a garden through a campaign called “Eat the View,” organized by the gardening group Kitchen Gardeners International.

The Clintons had a rooftop garden, but the last one on the lawn was planted as a World War II victory garden. And last summer, 4,000 plants were put into the ground outside City Hall in San Francisco, a temporary planting called Victory Garden 2008+ intended to promote gardens across the city.

-- Mary MacVean

Photo: Maria Shriver. Credit: Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times

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