Co.Design

Michelle Obama's Garden Veggies Get Their Own Brand

Cronan packages the harvest from the White House garden as gifts for political bigwigs.

This past weekend, while President Obama snarled Manhattan traffic to attend the first session of the 65th annual United Nations General Assembly, First Lady Michelle Obama took the spouses of visiting dignitaries out of town on a field trip. The group of 30 headed to Potantico Hills, New York, home of Stone Barns, the 80-acre farm and education center that's home to Dan Barber's Blue Hill restaurant. The FLOTUS also presented the spouses with a unique gift: A basket of goods harvested from the White House garden.

Packaging this presidential spread fell to Berkeley, California-based CRONAN, where husband-and-wife principals Michael Cronan and Karin Hibma created original artwork and graphic design to brand the FLOTUS harvest. A letterpress-printed label by One Heart Press covers a jar of pickled vegetables from the White House Kitchen Garden, that includes sun gold tomatoes, okra, cucumbers, chocolate bell peppers, carrots, lemon verbena, and fresh herbs. In addition, a labeled mesh bag of chamomile seeds and blossoms were harvested from the herb garden, dried, and packaged as tea, which is included with a clay tea canister designed by Virginia potter Catherine White. Chesapeake Bay Company collaborated on a candle design which was included with the edibles in a handmade maplewood basket designed by The Longaberger Company.

?The excitement to work and collaborate on this project was indeed a pleasure and a privilege," Cronan tells Co.Design about the unique project. "Art, creativity, design, craftsmanship and attention to detail came through every aspect of the process and we so enjoyed partaking in it with the whole team."

The gift was chosen due to Michelle Obama's focus on healthy eating and nutrition during her White House tenure. As part of the obesity initiative Let's Move! she planted the kitchen garden on the White House grounds, which has served as not only a symbolic gesture, but a food-producing machine: The garden harvested an estimated 1000 pounds of 55 different kinds of produce in its first year, about half of which was donated to local homeless shelters. The White House added 400 square feet to the garden earlier this summer.

In creating the branding for the Obama harvest, Cronan and Hibma were inspired by a now-famous photo of the First Lady tending to the garden with children and a wheelbarrow. And it just so happens that Cronan and Hibma are devoted locavores who live and work not too far away from the legendary headquarters of the farm-to-table movement: Alice Waters's Chez Panisse and Edible Schoolyard. Like their work for other environmental and nutritional companies, Cronan and Hibma hope their contribution is helping to amplify the First Lady's message about the importance of local food. "Being a part of something larger so much than oneself is always humbling and invigorating," says Cronan.

Now we want to see this on grocery store shelves! Could Michelle launch her own brand of sustainably-grown food after the presidency is done? We're betting it could huge: If Paul Newman can do it, the Obamas definitely can...

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