Estonian first lady Evelin Ilves explored the learning garden at Stoddert Elementary School Friday as part of her tour of the "farm to school" concept throughout the D.C. area.
Kealy Rudersdorf, the Stoddert Elementary garden coordinator and teacher, welcomed the first lady with the help of 10 fourth grade students. The Stoddert garden is funded in part by non-profit DC Greens.
Rudersdorf has been at Stoddert since December 2011.
Georgetown Patch: Who was your special visitor Friday and how was it that she came to Stoddert?
Kealy Rudersdorf: On Friday, we had the first lady of Estonia visit our garden. She learned about our garden through D.C. Greens, the non-profit that helped start the garden and the Washington Post article (which featured Stoddert's garden) that was written about school gardens in late August.
GP: What did you do during the visit?
KR: Ten fourth graders greeted the first lady. They gave her a tour of the garden, offering her tastes of stevia, tomatoes, sorrel, explained multiple parts of the garden including our compost system the green house, and introduced her to okra and other vegetables.
After the 25-minute tour, they invited her to share in a no-cook kale salad, using mostly produce grown in the garden (kale, tomatoes, mint, basil, chives). She talked with them about her country and they asked her questions about what its like to live there.
GP: What did the students think?
KR: The kids were really excited about meeting a foreign first lady. They seemed to take great pride in their garden and the work they've done there and were thrilled to share the garden with her. They practiced their tour and were excited and nervous, asking "do you think she'll like our garden?".
GP: What did Ilves think about the garden and your class program?
KR: She seemed very impressed by the garden and mentioned how knowledgeable the kids seemed to be about food and agriculture. She was also very impressed that all the kids tried the green kale salad and loved it! She thinks that educating children about food and providing them with healthy food (to help them learn better) is very important and thought that the garden was a great way to do this.
GP: Do you have other plans like this in the works?
KR: No plans yet, but we are hoping Michelle Obama will want to come and visit us!