History Re-Eating Itself

There’s been a lot to report over the past few months. The Peterson Garden Project is truly becoming a project vs. just a single garden which we’re all very excited about.

2012 is the 70th anniversary of the first year of WW2 and the first historic Victory Garden summer. Since The Peterson Garden Project had brought awareness to the story of Chicago’s role in the Victory Garden movement, at least in our little corner of the city, we thought it might be interesting to honor the memory of those first Victory Gardens with a full-on revival.

Before the Occupy Wall Street movement happened we were calling our idea “One Percent For Victory” and, clearly, that won’t work now. But the concept was that we wanted to do one percent of what Chicagoan’s did in 1942…

  • In 1942 Chicagoans put in 500 community gardens – we want to put in five
  • In 1942, 75,000 people started home gardens – we want to help 7,500 people learn to grow food
  • In 1942, 55% of the fresh produce in Chicago was home grown – we want to donate 5% of what we grow in 2012 to food and nutrition programs

We still haven’t thought of a good name for this program but we’re doing it anyway! We’ve already scoped out and gotten agreement from private property owners and the city to put in five big gardens (really big gardens) in four Chicago wards. [If the retro map above isn’t good enough, here’s a Google map.] And lots of interest from community groups, chambers of commerce, other non-profits, aldermen… people really like the idea.

The concept is simple – we have a lot of empty lots in Chicago. With the economic downturn, especially for private lots, they’re going to be unused for awhile. Let’s use that property to allow people to learn how to grow their own food. We don’t want to turn them into long-term gardens or parks. We just want to use them – short term – for people to work together as a community to do something good… and tasty. Just like a WW2 Victory Garden! We call them Pop-up Victory Gardens. This video by Food Patriots (Groundswell Educational Films) says it best!

If you want to track the progress of our Pop-up Victory Gardens over the summer, we’re starting a new blog called We Can Grow It! and you can find We Can Grow It on Facebook too. We really hope to chronicle not only what our community is doing in 2012 but honor what was done in 1942 as well. If you have any photos of a family member in their Victory Garden, a grandparent who has a story to tell or ideas of your own related to Victory Gardens, please share them!

And if I am delinquent with post to The Yarden this summer, you’ll know why! You can always find updates on Facebook. And, as always, I love your comments, ideas and fun stuff! Keep sharing!


LaManda JoyHistory Re-Eating Itself

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