Over the past four years I’ve talked a lot about WW2 Victory Gardens to many groups. Some people come to my lecture for nostalgic reasons, some to learn a bit of history. Many come to find out about the revival Victory Garden that launched The Peterson Garden Project. My lecture takes about 45 minutes and I leave time for questions and, inevitably, someone will ask “That was wartime. How are Victory Gardens relevant today?”
I love this question.
My answer is this… the famous permaculturalist Geoff Lawton said “All the world’s problems can be solved in a garden.” I wish I’d said it first because I agree wholeheartedly. Sure, we’re not in a wartime situation but people have their own personal reasons for growing food today.
While the landscape industry is taking a nosedive financially as people have cut back their discretionary spending, the interest (and spending) related to food gardening has increased almost 70% over the last three years. A soon-to-be-released study from Rutgers University (and co-sponsored by the American Community Garden Association) on community gardens reveals that urban, suburban and rural communities all over the country are starting community gardens in droves. People from all income levels and walks of life, in cities and in the country, want to grow their own food for a thousand good reasons at their homes or in community gardens.
I call these “Today’s Victories” – they’re all valid and they’re all important.
Here’s a few of those victories that we’re going to be highlighting at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show March 9-17 in our exhibit The Peterson Garden Project: Victory Today!
[If one of these victories resonates with you, let me know. Please share this post. Post your Victory on your FB page or Twitter with #VictoryToday in the copy.]
The types of vegetables you find in the grocery store are grown to withstand shipping distances, not to taste great. When you grow your own food, it is more flavorful, and you have numerous tasty varieties to choose from.
Eating more fruits and vegetables reduces the risks of obesity, heart disease and other health problems caused by poor nutrition. By growing your own, you have more control over your health and wellness.
Growing a portion of your own food can save you money. A package of seeds costs less than two dollars and, if they are non-hybrid, you can save them to use next year, too.
The average commercial produce travels an estimated 1,500 miles to get to the store. By growing your own food at home or in a community garden, you help the environment by removing the carbon footprint of some of your food.
Children are natural gardeners! By spending time growing food with your children, you not only increase outdoor family time but your kids learn new skills and, more importantly, where their food comes from.
Founding Father Thomas Jefferson said, “Although I am an old man, I am but a young gardener.” Skills like gardening, cooking, and canning all come into play when you want to grow your own food. These skills last a lifetime, can be shared with others, and can bring great joy.
Growing food with others in a community garden is a great way to get to know new people and do something good for your neighborhood. “Many hands make light work,” and your group efforts can beautify your corner of the world and feed a lot of people, too.
In Chicago alone, 1 in 6 individuals are food insecure, which means they don’t know when or where their next meal will come from. By sharing the excess produce you grow with local food pantries, you help neighbors in need.
The nut of the matter is this – during WW2 there was a problem and people banded together and grew food to solve that problem. 70 years later we have lots of problems with our food system and our own lives and communities. Growing food is one way we can solve our own problems. So get out there and DO IT. Who knows, 70 years from now maybe people will remember the time when American’s took back their food supply, their health, their communities by growing their own food. Until then… what’s your Victory?