Posts tagged ‘food’
I’ve been waylaid in the backyard, working on my vegetable garden. Some might say fruit and vegetable…there are tomatoes, tomatillos (thank you, Fox Point), cukes, peppers, and raspberries. Let ’em say what they will.
A friend gave me a yardsale find: Victory Backyard Gardens: Simple Rules for Growing your own Vegetables (1942) by T.H. Everett and Edgar J. Clissold with an intro by Secretary of Agriculture Claude Wickard. He’s the one who initially told First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt that she shouldn’t plant a victory garden at the White House and later changed his tune.
Sixty-seven years later, the book gives a firsthand glimpse at how gardeners went about their task during World War II. Intensive cultivation was the key. This was the era of shortages. As gas rationing and scrap drives made Americans conserve, so they would make the most of their available land. Succession planting, minimal space between rows, etc.
Another gardener asked me what victory gardens looked like. Here’s a sample plan:This is a lot of food! I admit I had to look up what “catch crop” (a quick growing crop to plant before or after another main crop) and “hot bed” (a cold frame over a hot surface, like manure or a heating element) meant. And though fertilizer is considered a precious resource–see the bugs panel on the left–note the compost pile in one corner of the garden.
Finally, one of the distinctions of WWII victory gardens is that they were considered to be part of America’s Civilian Defense program. I love how the cartoon on the right encourages gardeners to share their surplus. Shouldn’t making sure your neighbor has something to eat make for a more secure community?
It’s the birthday of the USA, and it’s one year since I launched the Green Zone website.
What a difference a year makes. We have a new president, and there’s a thriving vegetable garden on the grounds of the White House.
New gardens are sprouting everywhere! A brand-new community garden in Davis Park, a new garden in the works for the Davey Lopes Rec Center in South Providence, and a bunch of new school gardens here and there. And so many first-time backyard growers, too.
In the Summit neighborhood, there are flowerboxes full of vegetables on porches, and so many people have dug up their front lawns to plant ornamentals or grow their own food.
I spied this brand new neighborhood garden in Mt. Hope (3 top photos). Neighbors have taken over an empty lot. Guerrilla gardeners? Dig the ankle high dry-laid stone wall and the badminton court, not to mention the used-tire composter. And not far away is the MLK School Garden, which looks on target to harvest A LOT of delicious vegetables.
On this Independence Day, get independent. In a pot or in a plot, grow your own food.
Tonight catch a screening of “Taking Root, the Vision of Wangari Maathai.” It’s the kick-off for a new community garden at the Davey Lopes Rec. Center in Providence.
The invitation says: “This powerful documentary film tells the inspiring story of Wangari Maathai, the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner who is internationally recognized for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy, and peace. Wangari founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya Africa with women whose simple act of planting trees and food gardens grew into a nationwide movement to protect human rights and defend democracy.”
The event is free, and there will be refreshments (home-made ginger beer, lemonade, farm-fresh salad, and apples).
Where: Davey Lopes Recreation Center, 227 Dudley St, Providence
It rains so much in Providence nowadays that I spend more time with the newspapers and online and less time in the garden. First the newspaper…
Yesterday, the Providence Journal ran a story on recession gardens. Southside Community Land Trust is expanding the Prairie Street Community Garden to accommodate more plots, and URI Master Gardener Coordinator Roseanne Sherry is hearing from more and more new gardeners this year. And the trend is national, with seed companies reporting record sales in 2009.
The last upsurge in food gardening took place during the economic crises of the 1970s. In Rhode Island, Bristol legislator Gaetano Parella put forth four resolutions to make underused local, state, and federal land available for individual gardens in 1974. Reflecting on the victory gardens of WWII, Parella said there was “no reason why our citizens cannot do the same thing now to fight rising food costs.” A ProJo article from the same year described “Rhode Island’s growing army of backyard farmers.”
Now that you have read this newspaper article (online, perhaps), try googling “recession garden,” “recession gardens,” or “recession gardening.” Expect this term to start competing with victory garden/s/ing.
Speaking of googling, if you enter “Victory Garden,” the first entry to pop up is PBS’s television show. “The Victory Garden” began broadcasting in the mid-1970s; it was America’s first gardening program on tv. The goal was to encourage Americans to fight the recession by growing their own food. By using the name “Victory Garden,” the creators evoked nostalgia for the can-do spirit of wartime gardens. And I suppose that in 1975, nobody wanted to watch a show called “The Recession Garden.”
In 2009, we just might.
Apologies to KISS…
Yesterday, I went to a meeting for Providence’s Urban Agriculture Task Force. Launched 4-5 years ago, it’s a confederation of state, local, non-profit, and individual representatives. Some of the projects initiated and/or completed by members include:
- installing new community gardens around the city, including sites at Sessions St. Park, Early St, Davis Park, Pearl St., Riverside Park, and more
- introducing urban agriculture in community planning meetings, the Mayor’s Green plan, and the Providence Comprehensive Plan
- launching a citywide Community Gardens Network
- developing strategies to integrate food gardens with affordable housing
- holding 50-mile meals at Mount Hope Farm, Local 121, and Providence College
- creating the RI Farm To School Project to connect local farms with school lunch programs
- planning an edible landscape (an orchard!) in Locust Grove Cemetery
- working with the RI Dept of Health and Statewide Planning to ensure that urban agriculture is in local comprehensive plans
- preparing a series of reports on Providence Urban Agriculture
Amazing projects in Providence and beyond. And more to come. If you want to get involved, contact the UATF via Southside Community Land Trust.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by Firehouse 13 last night for Green Zones: From the War Garden to Your Garden and the first-ever Urban Ag Spring Start Party.
The talks and discussion went over really well, and the seed-swapping table was hopping. I got a chance to connect with gardeners, historians, and gardening historians from all over.
A spring party was a great outlet for gardeners with seeds, plants, and stories to share. As RI’s food gardening network continues to grow, imagine another garden event this fall?!?!?!?!
The UAU (that’s Urban Agricultural Unit) recently moved to a new home on the grounds of Wolcott Eco-Office on Wolcott Street in Providence. Part large-scale recycling effort and part science fair project, the UAU is a mobile greenhouse constructed from a discarded shipping container. You may remember it from its appearances at ProvFlux or from its long-time residency at the Steelyard.
Plans are forming for the growing season at UAU’s new home. Perhaps some hops climbing up its corrugated metal walls and some native landscaping plants and some veggies and herbs growing inside. Word is that its hydroponic set-up allows you to grow basil from a seed to a plant the size of a kindergartner in four weeks.
I get a kick out of the fact that this giant shipping container–duly labeled, see below–is now the ultimate container garden.
If you would like to learn more about the UAU or would like to be part of the team that is planning its rebirth, contact Anna or stop by the Urban Ag Spring Start Party that’s part two of the Green Zones event on May 5. Thanks to the UAU crew for helping out with posters, posting, music, and more.