by Sharon Astyk
(whose blogs [Casaubons Book &
Depletion & Abundance] should definitely be visited regularly. She has 2 books in the works derived from her astute yet whimsical discourse.
Also see Revive the Victory Garden and Kiss Your Grass Goodbye)
There is little question that it is time for us to create a new Victory Garden movement. That's one of the central premises of Aaron's and my book, and I don't think there are very many people who understand what we're facing who would deny that this is true.
In fact, there are quite a number of people in the Community Garden movement, and the blogging community who have supported the creation of a new Victory Garden movement. Some people doing this work include Bob Waldrop, whose call to action on local food systems has drawn considerable attention here (among other places):http://depletion-abundance.blogspot.com/2008/02/bob-waldrop.html , Foodshed Planet's site has inspired others, http://www.victorygardendrive.blogspot.com/ and the group Revive the Victory Garden, who have called for 2 million new gardens to combat climate change in 2008: http://www.revivevictorygarden.org/, and there are literally too many others for me to list. But the movement is nascent, still beginning, and seems to need a little midwifing to get things moving along.
The reality is that interest in really, really local food is growing, and so is interest in food production, as food prices skyrocket and quality falls. And the best news is that this is a case where grassroots action not only can work, but it is the only thing that ever has worked - that is, in the US during both World Wars, in Cuba, in Russia - gardens for food security began and grew under the aegis of ordinary people acting to improve their world. While we can enable it from above, the creation of a victory garden movement is a person to person, blog to blog, neighbor to neighbor project. Why do it? A host of reasons, personal and political.
Victory Gardens Mean:
-Better Food - Fresher, better tasting, straight off the plant food money literally cannot buy!
- Better Health - More nutrition in just picked vegetables, grown without chemicals, while getting the kind of exercise many of us pay the gym for! Safety from industrial food contamination and toxic imports.
-Food Security - Food in your pots as prices get higher, supplies that can't be disrupted by energy shortages, greater regional self-sufficiency. Millions of new gardeners can make sure that Americans don't have to wait for distant food supplies to be trucked in - weeks after they are needed. Every gardener makes your region more secure.
-Higher Quality of Life - A more beautiful environment, stronger community, a better environment.
-More Money in your Pocket, More Time for What Matters - If you don't need as much money for food, or to work as many hours to pay the grocery bills, you can use that money or take that time for what you really care about.
- The Chance to Serve Others and Create a More Just Society - Your Victory Garden can be a strike against hunger and poverty - you can have food to donate, and the ability to teach others to fish (ok, garden), and thus, eat for a lifetime.
- Reduce Corporate Power and Improve Democracy - We cannot simultaneously deplore the power corporations have in our society and depend on them to supply our most basic necessities. If we stop giving our hard earned money to the corporations who undermine our democracy, they will be less powerful!
-Protect Against Climate Change - Humus rich soils, full of organic matter can sequester tons of carbon, quite literally - and grow the best vegetables. We reduce our carbon emissions when we don't have to drive to the store or buy fossil fuel grown food.
-Reduce our Energy Dependence - Fossil fuels are used in agriculture, both industrial and industrial organic at every step, from the fertilizer in the ground to the refrigerated truck to plastic bag they come in. We can eliminated fossil fuels from almost every step when we grow our own.
- Create Peace - We're at war for oil right now. If we can cut back on our need for the stuff, we don't have to kill or die for it.
-Hope for the Future - In a changing world, the ability to grow food, to share and enjoy it, and to live in a healthy world full of beautiful gardens may be the best legacy we can our children and grandchildren.
Ok, so we agree that we need Victory Gardens. How do we bring all the participants in this movement together, and create a real and national Victory Garden movement? How do we bring together professional farmers, with Victory Farms and city Gardeners, schools and community resources, and backyard advocates? How do we get Victory Gardening onto the national agenda? How do we teach millions of people how to grow, cook and eat their own, and why?
One part, of course, is the person to person work we're doing now. The next step is to create a large-scale Victory Garden umbrella organization guided by people in every part of the Victory Garden movement - chefs and cooks helping people learn to eat, teachers helping children get involved, churches, corporations and community groups all putting gardens on public and private greenspaces, local "garden farmer markets" where very small scale producers can exchange or sell their extra in their neighborhoods, climate change and energy activists working on this simple way to cut our energy usage and reduce atmospheric carbon. That is, we need a movement - a real, serious movement. And we can do this.
And to get those new gardens and gardeners started. And for that, we need your help. We'll be asking for more specific help as we go along, but getting started, we'd love all of you who blog to put out the Victory Garden idea, even if you usually write about other things. If you can, start a Victory Garden blog, and post a link in comments - I'll put links up on this site and my other one.
And make the effort - reach out to one neighbor, at least, and help them get started gardening. Share seeds. Talk to your community, your synagogue, mosque, church, neighbors, school about gardening. Take a risk - for greater security later. Plant a front-yard garden, centered around a "V" for Victory (cabbages look great like this, particularly mixed with nasturtiums or calendula, but use your imagination). Be courageous - we need this Victory!