Thursday, November 19, 2009

Victory Gardens

Last night fellow church member Veda Kanitz and I attended a workshop on community gardens at Dakota Tech. The Dakota County Health Department is making grants available next year to organizations to start or expand community gardens. It is perfect timing for us at Open Circle as a community garden is one of the next phases of our landscaping overhaul at church. I would say based on what I heard last night that we have an excellent chance of getting a grant.

During last night's presentation mention was made of Dowling Community Garden in Minneapolis, one of the few continuing Victory Gardens in the United States. When this was said a man sitting next to me, just slightly younger than me, asked: "what is a Victory Garden?" The older-than-me man sitting on my opposite side replied that he was "too young to know."

Well, I am too young to remember Victory Gardens, but I have been using a Victory Garden Cookbook for more than 20 years, and used to watch the PBS show regularly as we once upon a time had a large vegetable garden.

Victory Gardens were begun during World War I and it is said that during Word War II there were nearly 20 million Victory Gardens in the country that provided more than a third of the produce the nation consumed.

Like many Americans our family is rediscovering the virtues of vegetable gardening. As our home yard is full of perennials and shrubs, we have been gardening on a small plot at church, as have a few other families. The community garden would allow us to open this up to the neighborhood. In particular we would have a chance to offer plots to some of the lower income families who live in the neighborhood around the church.

We need Victory Gardens again. A home or community garden not only provides fresh produce, but it cuts down on dependence on food that is shipped from across the country and world. It saves oil. It makes us more self-sustaining. It gets our hands dirty in a good way. It builds community. If that isn't a recipe for Victory I don't know what is.

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