The Obama Center's Planned Vegetable Garden Will Honor 2 First Ladies

The South Side of Chicago will eventually be getting an exciting new green space thanks to two of the city's most legendary locals. In a blog post, Obama Foundation CEO Valerie Jarrett unveiled big plans for the outdoor space at the Barack Obama Presidential Center, which began construction in the Obamas' hometown August 2021 and is slated to open to the public in 2025 (via Block Club Chicago).

The center, which will feature a museum and library honoring the legacy of the United States' first Black president, will also celebrate the work of First Lady Michelle Obama with a produce garden that will emulate the Chicago native's famed White House garden (via

In 2009, the First Lady broke ground on a 2,800-square-foot White House Kitchen Garden positioned on the South Lawn of the presidential property (via National Park Service). "We cooked up this really interesting idea that maybe we could dig up some dirt on the South lawn and ... plant a wonderful garden that would be a space for us to talk about the food we eat and to hopefully create healthier lives for these kids," Mrs. Obama said in a video shared on YouTube.

The Presidential Center garden will offer a variety of hands-on workshops

With the construction of the garden, the National Park Service shares Mrs. Obama followed in the footsteps of past greenery-loving White House residents like President John Adams, who installed the complex's first vegetable garden in 1797, and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, who planted a Victory Garden during World War II in hopes of inspiring Americans to grow their own produce in the face of wartime food shortages.

The White House Kitchen Garden quickly became an enduring symbol of First Lady Obama's tenure in the White House, perfectly encapsulating her various healthful living initiatives (via Vogue). In an effort to continue inspiring countless Americans to learn how to grow their own fresh, nutritious food, establishing a fruit and vegetable garden as part of the Obama Presidential Center is a natural choice.

"This living, growing, vibrant space will continue the work Mrs. Obama first started at the White House — where the Kitchen Garden she planted on the South Lawn sparked a national conversation about the food we eat and how to create healthier lives for families," said Jarrett (via Obama Foundation).

In a YouTube video, Michelle Obama shared her hopes and plans for the upcoming Presidential Center garden, which will feature a picnic space, accessible planting beds with seasonal fruits and vegetables, and a garden classroom and teaching kitchen where visitors will be able to participate in a variety of workshops revolving around growing and cooking with fresh produce.

The garden will be named after another iconic First Lady

"When it came to picking a name for [the garden], there was a natural fit," Obama said in the YouTube video. "This wonderful garden will be named after one of my predecessors — someone who, decades before me, planted a Victory garden on the White House lawn: the one and only Eleanor Roosevelt. ... We're all so excited to honor Mrs. Roosevelt's legacy with a garden where so many folks can follow her lead and plant something that can help nourish the world around them." 

In addition to being one of the White House's earliest advocates for growing fresh produce, Roosevelt was also a noted champion of women's rights and civil rights, as well as a diplomat, journalist, activist, policymaker, and teacher.

"I was so thrilled when I heard that the Obama Presidential Center was going to have a garden named after my grandmother," said Anna Roosevelt. "My grandmother would feel right at home there. ... She'd hope that this would be a place where they can understand that democracy is not something that's static, we need to grow it."

While it's unclear when The Eleanor Roosevelt Fruit and Vegetable Garden will open its doors to enthusiastic green thumbs across the Chicago area, the honorary space is guaranteed to continue the legacy of two legendary First Ladies — and gardening enthusiasts — for decades to come.