Posted June 10, 2011 - 1:39pm by Tracy
Victory Gardens: back in vogue after 70 years“Victory Garden” is a term that has recently been popping up all over Chicago, and in national news. And it’s no wonder.
With the all the recent news reports about poor food production practices and the globalization of agriculture (Just how far did that banana travel to get to your lunch, anyway?), foods grown in your backyard or in a communal space in your neighborhood start sounding pretty good, safe and healthy.
What a radical idea!
Well, not really. Sure, in this day and age when so many foods are processed and it’s so easy to get groceries anywhere and any time of the year, it seems crazy to think you can grow 40 percent of the food you consume yourself — but a new idea it is not.
Back in March, I had the opportunity to attend the Chicago Flower and Garden Show at Navy Pier in Chicago, and caught a presentation by LaManda Joy, president and founder of the Peterson Garden Project, and blogger behind TheYarden.com. Decked out in Rosie the Riveter apparel (literally!), LaManda gave the full history of Victory Gardens in the U.S., which have roots dating back to World Wars I and II. In fact, the community garden that now exists at the corner of Peterson and Campbell avenues in Chicago (which LaManda reestablished in 2010) served as an original Victory Garden from 1942 to 1945 as well.
The idea was for families to grow staple crops on their own so rations could be conserved and some pressure could be taken off American farmers. Victory Gardens also were a tool to boost morale during tough times. It is easy to see why people are once again drawn to this idea. Today, the re-emergence of Victory Gardens is no longer focused on the war effort, but still on boosting morale and forming community bonds. It also seems to have a new agenda: to help people take ownership of their food and rediscover an appreciation for where it comes from, how it is made and the history and sacrifice that it behind it.
LaManda explained that both today and back then, Chicago has been ahead of the curve in adopting these vegetable gardening practices. More and more people in the area are catching on — myself included.
I do not live close to a community garden, but LaManda’s speech and the success of the Peterson Garden sparked my own interest in gardening. Today my backyard raised bed garden is well on its way to a good yield, which I hope will help me cut down on grocery bills and eat better and more locally this summer. Many of my co-workers at Swedish Covenant Hospital have also been drawn into the Victory Garden trend, planting anywhere they can — in pots, their backyards and in nearby community gardens.
The more I work out in my Victory Garden, the more I enjoy it. You really can't go wrong with a therapeutic outdoor activity that yields fresh vegetables, community involvement, pocket-book friendly eating and a sense of accomplishment — and maybe even victory.
Note: The photo is of my first backyard Victory Garden. Here's hoping for a good year.
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