Budding up behind houses and in shared community spaces across the country is a phenomenon much like the victory garden of the past. During WWI and WWII, victory gardens were promoted by the U.S. government to save fuel and other transportation costs so more supplies were available to put toward the war effort and to give to the troops. Patriotic citizens were encouraged to live on locally-produced food, so homeowners planted fruits and vegetables in their ‘victory gardens’ to feed their families and to share with neighbors. Victory gardens became an important nostalgic reminder of the way Americans can pull together and work toward a common goal in times of hardship and need.
Today, many homeowners feel there is another war to be won – against food problems caused in great part by the pandemic – high-cost groceries, supply chain interruptions and the lower quality of processed foods. They’re reviving the victory garden concept with some modern twists.
Fresh produce can travel as far as 1500 miles or more from harvest to your local grocery store. According to Revivevictorygarden.org, these “food miles,” compiled by distance and energy, have a heavy impact on our environment. Carbon footprint-conscious people are concerned with the emissions and other costs required to transport food at great distances. The solutions are sourcing food from a local producer, eating a more seasonal diet, joining local gardening efforts, and starting your own garden.
Better tasting, fresher produce
Other gardeners like the fresh taste of garden-grown produce. One of the original celebrity chefs of the Food Network, Chef Curtis Aikens insists on using fresh vegetables in every recipe. FoodHero.com notes famous chefs and their hacks for avoiding food waste, such as Chef David Chang’s tip to put cut scallion roots in fresh water and setting them on a window sill where they’ll regrow.
Going green (wallets)
Some who have never gardened before are using their green thumbs to put greener in their wallets. ThePennyHoarder.com recommends certain foods as cheaper to grow than to buy at the grocery store. For example, a bag of prewashed lettuce may cost around five dollars and yields two salads, while a packet of seeds is around three dollars and will yield lettuce for up to five months.
How to start your own Victory Garden
A victory garden can be whatever you want it to be, but many urban gardeners don’t have the luxury of having acres to plant. But you can start small with an herb garden on your windowsill. It’s a cheap and easy alternative and it gives a pleasant aroma to your apartment or condo. The savings on herbs is substantial. A packet of basil is three dollars or more, while you can buy a full pack of starter herb plants that yields 50 times as many sprigs. Just make sure that you can provide a sill with southern or eastern exposure so that your plants get at least 4 hours a day of sunlight and that your chosen location is free from any drafts.
Hydroponics is another way to try indoor gardening, but beware that lighting set-ups, electricity, and chemical nutrients can be expensive. However, the taste of water-grown lettuce is well worth the cost.
For amateur gardeners it’s easier and more rewarding to go with produce that always produces a crop and usually only takes a couple of months from sowing to harvest; these include herbs, bush beans, lettuce, spinach and tomatoes.
Check with your local nursery for seeds and bulbs, or order them online at places like Gurneys.com. Most bags of seed come with care, best growing conditions, and harvesting instructions.
If you don’t have any land of your home, but your green thumb’s itching, you can garden in a co-op with friends. Most major cities have at least one co-op where you can rent a gardening space that’s already tilled and ready for you to begin. To find more information, visit Communitygarden.org. You’ll find more experienced gardeners there to help you if you have any questions. You might want to check with your local co-op to see what the rates are in your area so that you can get started.
Source: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices