A kitchen garden at the White House is not a new idea. In the early years of the nation, vegetables grew regularly at the White House and many people remember Eleanor Rosevelt's victory garden. Not only is Michelle Obama's garden a nod to the White House past, but it is part of a broader movement to educate Americans on the importance of good nutrition; eating fresh, local vegetables; and being connected to the land, ideas shared by yet another resident of the white House, Thomas Jefferson.
Champion of vegetable cuisine, plant experimentation, and the value of sustainable agriculture, Jefferson kept a vegetable garden at the White House and cultivated more than 330 vegetable varieties in his garden at Monticello. Today, Jefferson's passion for gardening remains on display at Monticello as visitors can explore his restored 1,000-foot-long vegetable garden, orchards, and vineyard. For the third year in a row, Monticello is organizing with the folks at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Virginia Master Gardeners to host the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello, a family-oriented, educational event designed to promote sustainable gardening and heirloom plants. This year's event will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 12 at Jefferson's Montalto, the "high mountain" that rises 400 feet above Monticello and offers spectacular views of the countryside and nearby Charlottesville. More information can be found at www.heritageharvestfestival.com or Monticello's event calendar.