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Garden with a Purpose: Five Mission Ideas for Your Victory Garden

Want more out of your garden this season?  By “more,” think beyond increasing tomato yield of zucchini size.  Drawing inspiration from the Victory Garden era of WW II, plant your seeds with a deeper mission this season. 
Strengthen your growing your efforts on a personal level by giving your garden a purpose, a symbolic calling and goal that connects your plot with changing the planet.

The Victory Garden concept is going through a well-deserved revival, currently fueled by First Lady Obama’s White House garden plantings inspired by the Eat The View campaign. 

As I write about in this month’s Hobby Farm Home, Victory Gardens today redefine what “patriotism” can be, bringing self-sufficiency and healthy, local eating back into the realm of national pride that just might take us back to where we were over sixty years ago, when 30 million Americans grew about 40 percent of the vegetables consumed nationally.

Victory Gardens today hold opportunity for deeper creativity and self-expression.  Sure, we garden for everything from fresh flavor and health benefits to cost savings to the family budget.  But this season, give your garden an extra eco nudge by defining a “mission” for your growing efforts.  What bigger planetary issue do you hope to address by working the soil?

Such a garden mission can be private, something just you know and keep in your heart as a motivator when the mercury rises and you need an extra reminder of why you garden.  Or you can take your mission public, using it as an education tool to help others make the connection between a radish seed and transforming the world.

Here are some sample missions to get you started:

1.  Lessen Dependence on Fossil Fuel
With the average tomato flying more than 1,500 miles to the American plate, produce you carry from garden to plate proves we can lower our need for oil.

2.  Strengthen Communities
When your garden gifts you with more abundance than you can use, make a point to share with neighbors.  Area seniors who may have once loved to garden and no longer can physically keep it up especially appreciate a garden gift.

3.  Connect Kids with Food
Whether it is your own children or other kids in your family or community, make an effort to connect them with your garden throughout the season.  “Give” their own special plant in the garden, one that they can visit throughout the growing season and experience the full cycle of nature’s gift.

4.  Increase Self-Reliance
However you slice it, we live in unpredictable, tumultuous times, particularly economically.  Strengthen your economic self-reliance by raising part of your food needs yourself.  As my husband John and I write about in ECOpreneuring:  Putting Purpose and the Planet Before Profits, the less you need financially, the more opportunity you have to not be dependent on the paycheck trap and follow your own green business dreams.

5.  Make Home Gardening the Norm
Lastly and importantly, don’t let the current home gardening revival once again fall down the path of the WWII Victory Garden trend, which overall lost momentum once the troops came home.

“Unfortunately, many people associated victory gardens with deprivation and hard times during the war.  They felt liberated to not need to garden anymore,” explains Rose Hayden-Smith, a national advocate for victory gardens and garden historian based at the University of California.  “The decades after WWII brought economic prosperity to America, and with that, the rise of processed and convenience food, leading our nation even further away from home gardens.”

Photo Credit:  Library of Congress

3 comments
  1. John Chappell

    Outstanding article. I wish there were a way to once again associate self-sufficiency with patriotism, or can that only happen during a “national crisis” like World War II?

    If even 10% of the population of the US adhered to a couple of your suggestions, what a difference it would make. Thanks again for the great suggestions, and I’ll definitely strive to have more of a purpose in my garden this year.

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