It’s not exactly Publishers Clearing House ringing your doorbell with a giant bank check. But as gardeners around the country are preparing for planting season, Michelle Obama is surprising a few of them with First Lady-style giveaways.
To celebrate her last season with the White House Kitchen Garden she installed on the South Lawn in her first year, Mrs. Obama is visiting Washington, D.C.-area gardens and surprising fellow planters with backyard-worthy swag.
At Watkins Elementary School, 5th-graders were preparing a salad with kale from their garden on school grounds when Mrs. Obama popped in last week. “I want the world to see all the great things you’re doing and how you’re learning so much about good eating from your garden and your school,” she told them.
And in the Washington backyard of home gardeners Eriks Brolis and Linda Bilsens, Mrs. Obama sneaked up on the unsuspecting couple while an aide followed with a gift bag.
Inside, with some help from HGTV, the First Lady and her team had tucked her favorite gardening must-haves: White House seed packets (for Tennis Ball Lettuce, Super Sugarsnap Peas, Sungold Cherry Tomatoes, Hercules Carrots and Provider Beans); a kneeling pad, sun hat, ear buds, birdhouse (attracts pollinators!), wind chimes and an apron.
Mrs. Obama tells PEOPLE she also tucked into the gift bags: Gardening tools “to help break the ground and get your seeds into the soil!” Gloves for “when you’re heading out to start weeding and harvesting.” Water bottles to stay hydrated under the sun. “Drink up!” she says. A copy of her book American Grown, which “explains why we planted the White House Kitchen Garden back in 2009 and provides tips for starting your own garden.”
At John Burroughs Elementary School, it wasn’t planting that students were working on when Mrs. Obama popped in to surprise them.
It was composting.
But Mrs. Obama was game and dived right in with the giggling kids saying, “I can’t believe I’m sitting here digging out worms with you guys!”