First and last appearance

Skeletor told us “At least she’s meeting with local school kids and doing her best to garden with them” – she being Melania Trump.

No, she’s not. The Post this past April:

Thus far, the Trump administration has erred on the side of silence regarding the vegetable garden, mirroring the silence in Congress around the impending farm bill deadline. In February 2017, a news release from the Office of the First Lady confirmed the White House vegetable garden would not be removed. Come April, however, there was no spring planting event such as Michelle Obama had held; instead, the secretary of agriculture announced that he would “Make School Lunches Great Again” by relaxing Obama-era HHFKA nutrition and sourcing regulations. Public tours of the garden continued last summer, but the White House occupants kept their distance both legislatively and physically from local food production and childhood nutrition efforts.

Melania Trump finally made her first appearance in the garden on Sept. 22. (The Internet was quick to note that her ostensibly modest flannel shirt cost $1,380.) While the first lady harvested the turnips and kale she had declined to help plant, she encouraged children to “continue to eat a lot of vegetables and fruits, so you grow up healthy and take care of yourself,” while avoiding calls for structural change. Exactly a week later, however, the Trump administration pushed back deadlines for updating nutrition labels on packaged foods, which would have mandated disclosure of added sugars, the most common of which is high-fructose corn syrup, second only to ethanol and animal feed in importance to the U.S. corn industry.

This spring, planting dates have come and gone; visitors are invited to tour gardens again planted by Park Service staff. But it seems clear that by reducing their involvement, the Trumps are trying to erode the symbolism of the garden to placate their agribusiness allies. If those priorities carry over to a draft of a new farm bill, they will doom us to another round of partisan warfare.

It looks as if that photo-op appearance in the garden last September is the only time Queen Melania has been there, so no, that doesn’t count as an ongoing attempt to meet with local school kids and do her best to garden with them.

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