Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Green term of the week: victory garden

During World War 2, Americans turned to Victory Gardens to help them get through the financial crunch until they were victorious in the war. Everyone grew vegetable gardens in their back yard, and it considerably eased the amount of money they needed to spend at the grocery store.

There's a new Victory Garden movement afloat. It started before this crummy economy really took hold of us all, but the tough financial times are certainly strengthening it. The Wall Street Journal reported that vegetable seed sales are up, some sellers reporting as much as 80%. This upcoming season is poised to be the biggest vegetable garden season in decades with gardens being planted in community plots, back yards, windowsills, and in containers on balconies and fire escapes. 

The original Victory Gardens got their names because the war was causing tough financial times, and people at home wanted to do something in the quest to be victorious. Well, we're at war now, too, and while the current war may be one of the reasons we're in tough financial times, there are other things that our gardens can help us be victorious over this time around.
  • Food miles - No fuel is consumed in bringing a tomato in from your back yard to your kitchen. When a tomato grown in Florida, however, has to come to my kitchen, it travels hundreds of miles and uses fuel and other resources.
  • Pesticides and chemicals in our food - Many modern victory gardeners are doing it the natural, organic way.
  • Losing our understanding of where food comes from - Ask most kids where food comes from, and they'll understandably say "the grocery store." My generation and the ones after it aren't particularly savvy about how food gets created. We need to change that.
  • Losing varieties - Over the past several decades, many varieties of vegetables have disappeared as large farms have focused on only growing the varieties that look pretty and travel well. Victory gardeners are finding and perpetuating the growth of all the varieties they can get their hands on, saving their seeds, and sharing those seeds.
  • Couch potatoism - A recent Nielsen survey found that people are watching TV 151 hours a month! We need to get off the couches and back into the dirt.
What are waiting for? If you've ever thought of growing vegetables, I can't think of a better time than now. It's still early enough in the season for anyone in the country to start growing some vegetables this year. Go play in the dirt.

Image: mercedesfromtheeighties

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