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First lady Michelle Obama welcomes children to annual harvest of White House garden

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WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama isn't afraid of a little dirt.

The first lady, clad in dirt-stained black pants and sneakers, was joined by schoolchildren Tuesday to harvest lettuce, bell peppers, sweet potatoes and tomatoes in the White House Kitchen Garden.

The children from Arizona, California, Ohio and the District of Columbia attend schools that have school gardens, teach nutrition education or have "farm to table" programs that use local food in school meals.

PHOTO: First lady Michelle Obama offers a toast as she sits with school children as they eat lunch in the East Room of the White House following the annual fall harvest of the White House Kitchen Garden in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. In celebration of Farm to School Month, the Obama invited students from Arizona, California, and Ohio to participate in the fall harvest. These schools were selected because they are participating in farm to school programs that incorporate fresh, local food into their school meals, and they teach students about healthy eating through school gardens and nutrition education.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
First lady Michelle Obama offers a toast as she sits with school children as they eat lunch in the East Room of the White House following the annual fall harvest of the White House Kitchen Garden in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. In celebration of Farm to School Month, the Obama invited students from Arizona, California, and Ohio to participate in the fall harvest. These schools were selected because they are participating in farm to school programs that incorporate fresh, local food into their school meals, and they teach students about healthy eating through school gardens and nutrition education.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

"It's beautiful," the first lady said, as she marveled the garden before they started digging. "And just imagine that everything was just dirt just a few months ago. And because the summer was so cool and wet and beautiful, everything is just bursting."

After the hard labor, the children joined White House chefs in preparing a late lunch in the East Room.

Mrs. Obama, in a new pair of slacks, toasted the students — with a glass of water— before they dined on pumpkin-sweet potato soup and chicken with ratatouille.

The first lady planted the vegetable garden in 2009, a year before she began her Let's Move! initiative to encourage children and families to eat healthier and exercise.

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PHOTO: First lady Michelle Obama arrives to help with the harvest of the White House Kitchen Garden with school children at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014. In celebration of Farm to School Month, the Obama invited students from Arizona, California, and Ohio to participate in the fall harvest. These schools were selected because they are participating in farm to school programs that incorporate fresh, local food into their school meals, and they teach students about healthy eating through school gardens and nutrition education.(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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