Bring back the Victory Garden!

>> Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Found an interesting website article on Victory Gardens at Kitchen Gardeners International.

The site advocates for bringing back the WWII era Victory Garden as a means of addressing the problem of childhood obesity, inactivity, addiction to highly processed food with empty calories, and the use of fossil fuels to grow and ship our food.

Of course, those of us who have our own vegetable gardens already know of the benefits of growing our own, and although we may not refer to them as Victory Gardens, they certainly do offer the same benefits.

I’m not talking about the successful PBS program of the same name. The original Victory Garden concept came about during World War I as the need for rationing supplies to support the war effort created shortages for civilians back home. Vegetables, fruits and herbs were planted at private homes in the U.S., Canada, and England as a means of lessening the pressure on the public food supply. The idea also was used extensively during World War II. It was a time when everyone pulled together for the common good.

In our global economy, the concept of a true community garden has become foreign. It seems the concept of common good has become foreign as well. There are an estimated 10,000 community gardens in cities around the country where people, who may not have the room in their own backyard, can claim one of many plots and grow their own food for their own consumption. A community garden would be dedicated to growing food for those unable to afford a healthy diet. Sure we have organizations like America’s Second Harvest, the Nation’s Food Bank Network, to help fight against hunger. But we tend to only participate in this charity around the holidays when volunteers come to the grocery store to remind us to give. Hunger is a daily problem. Wouldn’t it be better if we could give more nutritious food than the occasional can of beans?

The American Community Gardening Association is dedicated to showing us how to start and maintain a community garden. On their website you will find a useful map to help locate a community garden near you. There are others:

City Farmer’s Urban Agriculture Notes in Vancouver, BC;

Food Share in Toronto;

Gateway Greening in St, Louis;

Green Thumb in New York City;

Maricopa County Cooperative Extension in Arizona;

and others.

Benefits of community gardens/Victory gardens, besides feeding the needy, are: they improve people’s quality of life by stimulating social interaction, give our philanthropic nature a much needed boost, encourages self-reliance, exercise, fresh air, produces nutritious food, prevents the chosen site from going unused or from becoming another paved over development, an opportunity to get children involved to develop a sense of community and sharing.

When we grow our own food, in our own backyard, we are promoting the victory garden idea. And when we give our extra produce to the food bank we are keeping the spirit of the victory garden alive.

It is in our nature to want to help others, so if we could help someone else start their own garden and be there to help when they encounter problems and pass on our extra produce to those less fortunate, we become a de facto community garden. I love being a part of this blogging/gardening network and feel good about doing my part in bringing back the concept of ‘common good’. Thank-you to all of you who are doing your part.


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