The White House garden continues to make an impact far beyond the South Lawn. 

In his first-ever meeting with Pope Francis last week, President Obama presented a custom-made chest containing a variety of fruit and vegetable seeds from the White House Garden. The chest was made with both leather and reclaimed wood from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is one of the oldest Catholic cathedrals built in the United States.  

"These I think are carrots," Obama was overheard telling the pope. "Each one has a different seed in it. The box is made from timber from the first cathedral to open in the United States in Baltimore."

"If you have a chance to come to the White House, we can show you our garden as well," the president added.

The Pope, responding in Spanish, said "Como no?" (For sure!).

In keeping with the spirit of the gift, the White House revealed, Thomas Jefferson's Monticello organization will donate seeds that will yield several tons of produce to a charity of Pope Francis’ choosing.

According to a statement, the gift was selected after Pope Francis earlier this month "made the historic announcement that he would open to the public the gardens of the papal summer residence, the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo."

The Barberini Gardens consist of 30 acres dedicated to gardens and 25 to farming. Since 1929, the grounds have produced eggs, milk, oil, vegetables and honey for local employees or for sale in the Vatican supermarket.

Vatican museum director Antonio Paolucci said: "It took a man like Francis to open the grounds to all."

The gardens are a place "where the splendour of art and the glory of nature combine in an admirable balance," he added.

Related on MNN: History of the White House Kitchen Garden, so far

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Obama presents White House garden seed chest to Pope Francis
Custom-made box was created using reclaimed wood from one of the oldest Catholic cathedrals in the U.S.