Posts tagged ‘research’

Kingston squares

1944-45-kingston1In 1943-45 (at least), a bunch of Kingston neighbors organized a victory garden with the help of a local RI State College (now University of Rhode Island) professor and several local property owners.

The group collaborated on the purchase of fertilizer, seeds, and rototilling. Each family could sign up for 4000- or 2000-square foot plots.

The same pattern of neighbors organizing community garden spaces together was repeated throughout Rhode Island and throughout the country. What was unique about the Kingston Victory Gardens was that the neighbors gardened side-by-side with professors from the the RI State College Extension Service. What the professors learned from their experience on the ground in Kingston, they could share with gardeners throughout the state through the outreach of the Extension Service. This program continues today as URI Cooperative Extension.

You can find correspondence, plot plans, gardener rosters, and other materials relating to the Kingston Victory Gardens at the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society in Kingston Village.

March 24, 2009 at 9:33 pm 1 comment

A fine crop of potatoes you got there, grandpa!

1918burlingame-noticeYesterday, I was catching up on some research at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library, which holds 43 linear feet of collections relating to the Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company. I’ve mentioned Brown & Sharpe in previous posts, because National War Garden Commission founder Charles Lathrop Pack singled out this Rhode Island firm for sponsoring War Gardens in 1917.  1918burlingame-bluecard

I focused on a dozen of the 43 linear feet: materials related to Luther D. Burlingame and wartime activity. Burlingame worked for Brown & Sharpe as engineer, and he was active in Rhode Island’s environmental movement in the early 20th century. He not only coordinated the firm’s War Gardens during World War I, but he also launched the state’s subsistence garden program in 1932.

In the last section of the last scrapbook in the last box I had requested, I found several items related to Brown & Sharpe’s activities during WWI. The prize was an 1918 article by Burlingame on “Shop Gardening as a War Measure: How Factory Employees Can Help Increase the Food Supply.” Glancing at the sample list of employees who tended garden plots, I saw a familiar name:

1918burlingame-list

That’s my grandfather, Louis Zurier, who worked–and gardened–at Brown & Sharpe in the war years! I was stunned to encounter him on the pages of a magazine article, in a scrapbook, in a box, at a library. There he was, with 14 bushels of potatoes worth $24.80 in 1917. Good growing, grandpa!

March 15, 2009 at 12:51 pm 1 comment

Out of the garden, into the frying pan

Green Zone has been slacking transitioning. As September winds down, I’ve slowed down on tending the garden and blog. I cooked up Green Zone’s kale and beet greens with a whole lot of garlic and oil for the Firehouse 13 potluck. How’s that for closure?

I still have some seed gathering to do: morning glories, bachelor’s button, dill, and black-and-pink scarlet runner bean beans. If you can get to Providence for a pickup, I’d be glad to set aside some Green Zone seeds for you!

Now, I’ve got to hit the books, looking for information on Rhode Island’s history of war gardens, liberty gardens, victory gardens, community gardens, school gardens, allotment gardens.  If you’re familiar with an example in RI, please let me know. Is it true that there’s a guy who still tends his WWII-era Victory Garden in Bristol?  Did your parents garden at school, or did your grandmother volunteer on a farm during during the war? Did you tune out during the Vietnam War and go back to the land?

I’ll share bits and pieces from my research as it progresses, and I’ll continue to blog sporadically about gardens I encounter. Doesn’t this look like an installation artist’s work on Parcel 12 (“triangle parcel” at Exchange St.)? A cluster of mossy bumps amidst the seven grassy hills (or was it six)? Actually it’s a bunch of those gorgeous Downtown flower and vine baskets dumped on the ground.

September 30, 2008 at 2:15 pm 2 comments


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