First Lady Michelle Obama visited the Department of Agriculture Thursday bearing a special gift from the White House. Obama presented Secretary Tom Vilsack with a seedling from the Jackson magnolia tree originally planted 180 years ago by the seventh U.S. president.
The seedling was to be planted at a new community garden at USDA headquarters in Washington. President Andrew Jackson planted the tree at the South Portico in honor of his wife, Rachel, who died right before the first couple moved into the White House.
"I hope that this seedling brings years of joy and beauty to the garden that will be planted here, in the same way it has brought beauty to the White House for 180 years," Obama said.
In her remarks before employees of the department, Obama commented on the importance of community gardens, which the USDA plans to start at its facilities all over the world.
Obama said she is "a big believer in community gardens," and thanked the employees on behalf of the president. The work of the USDA is critical, she said, in supporting farmers, providing nutritious meals to students and protecting the food supply.