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Melania Trump says she’ll keep Michelle Obama’s garden, announces White House visitor tours

WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama‘s garden can keep churning out vegetables at the White House. That’s the official word from the Trump White House....
Melania Trump

WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama‘s garden can keep churning out vegetables at the White House.

That’s the official word from the Trump White House. First lady Melania Trump said through a spokeswoman that she is committed to preserving and continuing White House gardens, and specifically mentions Mrs. Obama’s “kitchen” garden.

The former first lady planted the garden in 2009 as the foundation for her signature initiative, “Let’s Move,” which she designed to help reduce childhood obesity through diet and exercise.

The garden produced hundreds of pounds of fruit and vegetables yearly. Some of it helped feed the Obama family and guests at White House events, and supply neighborhood food kitchens.

Mrs. Obama referred to the garden last year as “my baby” and said she hoped future presidents would keep it going.

Starting March 7, the American people can start to take tours for the first time during Donald Trump’s presidency.

The First lady said in a statement Tuesday she’s looking forward to welcoming visitors.

“I am excited to reopen the White House to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come each year. The White House is a remarkable and historic site and we are excited to share its beauty and history. I am committed to the restoration and preservation of our Nation’s most recognizable landmark,” she said.

The announcement comes as frustration about the closure has mounted on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are often contacted by constituents to schedule White House tours. Without someone to oversee the Visitors Office, a post that under Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama had filled before their respective inauguration days, those tours, and the perk of being able to arrange them, ground to a halt when Trump took office.

While Melania Trump is splitting her time between Washington and New York, as her 10-year-old son, Barron, completes the school year, the East Wing of the White House has been operating under a skeleton crew.

Previous first ladies of recent history have staffed up their office by this point in a new administration, but Trump, with her commuting schedule, has announced just two official hires to her team.

Lindsay Reynolds was named chief of staff two weeks ago, and “Rickie” Niceta Lloyd was tapped as social secretary last Wednesday. Additionally, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff has been serving as a close adviser to the first lady.

It was Reynolds who said upon winning the job, that one of her first priorities would be to reopen the White House Visitors Office so public tours could resume — and it appears she’s succeeded.

Reynolds said in a statement when she was hired that the lengthy pause in public touring was due to some needed upkeep.

“We are using this time to tend to routine maintenance, updates and renovations along the tour route to ensure the guest experience is top notch,” she said.

Next month’s resumption of tours signals signs of life from the East Wing, an important instrument of any presidential administration. With State Dinners, a packed schedule of events, and the upcoming Easter Egg Roll on the East Wing’s agenda, Mrs. Trump’s team will have a lot on its plate. Speaking of which, the first lady and her staff also need to oversee the selection of the Trump China — add that to the to-do list.

The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.