It's something that hasn't happened since Franklin Roosevelt was in office, and it's not a depression.
It's a vegetable garden!
Crops to be planted in the coming weeks on the 1,100-square-foot, L-shaped patch near the fountain on the South Lawn include spinach, broccoli, various lettuces, kale and collard greens, assorted herbs and blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.
There will also be a beehive.
"We're going to try to make our own honey here as well," Mrs. Obama told the students from Bancroft Elementary School in Washington. The school has its own community garden.
The students will be brought back to the White House next month to help with the planting, and after that to help harvest and cook some of the produce in the mansion's kitchen. The first harvest is expected by late April.
The First Lady and some of the White House chefs have embarked on the project as a way of bringing home-grown fruits and vegetables to the table at the White House.
"What I found with my girls, who are 10 and seven, is that they like vegetables more if they taste good, " Mrs. Obama said, referring to Malia, 10 and Sasha, 7.
The children agreed the food from their school garden tastes better too.
Mrs. Obama helped prepare the garden which is located near the ellipse but within White House grounds, by using a pitchfork and shovel, and letting the kids wheel the dirt away from garden.
Asked what it takes to make a garden grow the kids said, soil, watering, hard work and mulch. Mrs. Obama said, "Do we have mulch?" and when she was told she did she told the kids "We're good to go."
Assistant chef Sam Kass said there was a long wish list from the chefs, but no specific requests from the president himself. He also said the president, despite rumors, did not veto the planting of beets.
He gave no estimate no how much produce the garden would yield, but said, "It should be quite a bit, if we're lucky."
The Associated Press contributed to this report