She's been heralded as a modern-day Mr. Green Jeans, but not everyone involved in first lady Michelle Obama's victory garden cheered for success. [See photos of the Obamas behind the scenes.]
Kathleen Merrigan, deputy secretary of agriculture, reveals that she jokingly hoped for a first lady flop. The reason: Failure of the the White House veggie garden might show the challenges of agriculture.
Merrigan, who manages the Agriculture Department's "Know your farmer, know your food" program, joked at an event last night that when Sam Kass, the assistant White House chef who tends the garden, expressed concern about the visibility of the first lady's garden and the chance that it might fail during the first year, she told him, "That would be great. ... Then people would understand the kinds of challenges that farmers face."
She has since applauded the first lady's gardening success for setting an example for families on basic planting. [See photos of Michelle Obama.]
Merrigan was one of the panelists at Monday night's discussion about sustainable farming at the U.S. Archives.
Fellow panelist Ann Harvey Yonkers, co-director of FRESHFARM Markets, said that the first lady is responsible for a resurgence of hobby gardening. "Greenhouses around the country are selling out of seeds," Yonkers said.
Corrected on : Corrected on 11-22-2011: A previous version of this story mischaracterized Deputy Sec. Kathleen Merrigan as referring to farm subsidies. She was referring to the difficulty of farming.