Tag Archives: Victory Gardens

From Treehugger: Frugal Green Living Posters

Canning, victory gardening, carpooling, conserving resources, living frugally — There are a lot of parallels between a whole swath of trends and activities today and those from the 1940s. In both periods, outside forces (war, the economy, the environment) have caused a lot of us to take stock and change some of our homefront habits. In the process, many of us discovered or rediscovered some relatively lost arts on the way to using less.

The always-relevant Treehugger has offered a terrific blog post, Frugal Green Living: Posters for the Movement, which features a collection of 1940s posters that, while making statements urging people to reconsider wasteful habits, are also themselves wonderful examples of message-oriented graphic design at its mid-century zenith.

I love these for their bold graphics and nostalgic style and marvel that they are fairly relevant today – except for the last one, of course. Though Treehugger makes the point that cooking fat is now collected for biodiesel fuel, rather than to make explosives. And that is undoubtedly a good thing.

Posters: Minneapolis Public Library

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Top 10 Vegetables for Home Gardeners

Tomatoes top the National Gardening Association‘s list of the Top 10 most popular vegetables grown by home gardeners. A whopping 86% of gardeners said they planned to grow tomatoes, when surveyed.

Here are the Top Ten and the percentages of people who said they planned to grow them:

1. Tomatoes (86%)
2. Cucumbers (47%)
3. Sweet peppers (46%)
4. Beans (39%)
5. Carrots (34%)
6. Summer squash (32%)
7. Onions (32%)
8. Hot peppers (31%)
9. Lettuce (28%)
10. Peas (24%)

On the bottom of the list? The lowly Rutabaga only had 1% of gardeners’ support.

Looking for other Gardening lists? See these for ideas about:

Top 10 Heirloom Vegetables to Try

Top 10 Vegetables for the Urban Garden

10 Shade-Loving Vegetables

Once you’ve been inspired to plant, you may want to check out my earlier post, How to Get Growing if You’re a Total Beginner. Tomato season may be winding down (though hope remains for my Oregon Spring cherry tomatoes and a relatively warm fall), so the Gardening Association suggests planting fragrant fall annuals such as snapdragon, stock (below), and sweet alyssum.

Photos: Jean-noël Lafargue (top), Susan Sachs Lipman

Poster: University of N. Texas Libraries

Slow News Day: Michelle Obama – First Gardener, Foodie, Childrens Health Advocate

flotus_garden1_blog

This has been a big year for the Slow Food movement, with some high-profile help from First Lady Michelle Obama.

In June, the Obama White House broke ground for its organic kitchen garden (involving local schoolchildren in the process), the first White House vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden in the 1940s.

I wrote about it on Slow Family Online, in a story about the bumper crop of home gardeners.

The above picture of First Lady Michelle Obama and children in the garden appeared in the White House blog. Food from the garden is feeding the White House, as well as homeless recipients at Washington, D.C.’s Miriam’s Kitchen.

The blog, Eat The View, offers an entertaining round-up of the White House Garden, and other Edible Landscape campaigns.

In September, the First Lady went a step further, inaugurating the first ever weekly farmers market on the White House lawn, allowing visitors the opportunity to purchase fresh food directly from the farmers who grew it. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was on hand for the opening, and he spoke about the importance of eating fresh, locally-grown food.

Says Mother Earth News:

The White House farmers market serves as a symbol to the rest of the United States that the current administration is supportive of small food producers and sustainable, healthy food systems.

The 2009 White House Farmers Market ran through October and will resume again in the spring.

This week, Michelle Obama decided to raise awareness of the importance of fresh, healthy food another way — by announcing a campaign aimed at curbing childhood obesity. She told the U.S. Conference of Mayors, “Obesity in this country is nothing less than a public health crisis” and said that healthier habits were imperative to the next generation of children. In addition, they needn’t be expensive to undertake. Her campaign will include specific programs like improved school lunches.

You might want to visit Slow Food USA for more information on the Time for Lunch Campaign to improve school lunches.

If you are remotely a foodie or White House follower, you will want to follow the Obama Foodarama blog, which keeps up with both. Given the Obama White House’s emphasis on fresh food and good health, there is certain to be no shortage of news.

Photos: The White House/Joyce N. Boghosian, AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta. Art: National War Garden Commission/US Department of Agriculture, 1917-19.

School and Community Gardens Grow More than Food

I recently came across two wonderful stories about community gardens.

Ground will soon be broken for the first New York school garden in the Edible Schoolyard project, which was begun by pioneering chef and school garden proponent Alice Waters. The garden, at Public School 216 in Brooklyn’s Gravesend neighborhood, will feature a solar-powered building with a kitchen classroom that includes space for the children to make and enjoy meals from the food they’ve grown. Also in the works are a chicken coop, a composting system, an outdoor pizza oven, a portable greenhouse, and rainwater collection.

The 460 students, grades K-5, will learn a variety of traditional subjects through the garden, and it is hoped that the school will become a center for environmental and agriculture studies. The school, in an area where children would not normally have ready access to gardens, represents the 6th Edible Schoolyard in the U.S. and the only one currently set to operate year-round. School Principal Celia Kaplinsky said she also envisions the garden as a place to build community, where children with many different cultures and languages can bond.

Read more about Brooklyn’s Edible Schoolyard in this New York Times article.

Another terrific story just surfaced about a series of backyard vegetable gardens in San Jose, CA. The project is spearheaded by a group called La Mesa Verde, which is part of the Silicon Valley Health Trust. Both groups encourage healthy eating and community enhancement through gardening, noting that growing ones own healthy food is not only a source of pride, but a surefire way to have access to good greens.

30 backyard gardens were recently planted in San Jose’s Gardner and Washington-Guadalupe neighborhoods, which are home to many relatively new Latino immigrants who comprise the city’s working poor. The neighborhoods, while blessed with an average of 300 sunny days a year, offer limited access to fresh food. Homegrown food has meant access, along with tremendous money savings, for many. Says one resident, “People don’t eat vegetables unless they are close by.”

La Mesa Verde founder Raul Lozano hopes to get about 70 more backyard gardens planted by spring, with help from community volunteers.

Read more about the San Jose backyard gardens in the New York Times.

Photo: Jean-noël Lafargue. ChickenFreak

Slow News Day: Front Yard Gardening in Benicia and Beyond

cornyard1

While wandering around the town of Benicia, CA, one late summer day, I encountered this exuberant example of front yard gardening. This person is really making the most of every square inch. It was a treat to see, especially after posting about the trend of front yard gardening earlier this summer.

I’ve been following some fun and inspiring blogs about front yard and even balcony gardening. (As a longtime deck gardener, in the deer-populated (read: lettuce munching) woods as well as in Manhattan, I’ve always been interested in doing the most with the smallest plot of dirt. Good small-space gardening and urban homesteading blogs include Beyond the Lawn, Leda’s Urban Homestead, Balcony Gardener, Life on the Balcony, Free Range Living, and Path to Freedom.

The last is an especially exciting farmsteading site that I just learned about this weekend when I saw an independent movie called HomeGrown. HomeGrown features a family of four living by the freeway in Pasadena, CA, raising all their own food and completely sustaining themselves and others on a small residential plot of land. The family is very winning and passionate, and they really make a go of urban homesteading, practicing extreme simplicity, conservation, community and resourcefulness — They use a hand washer, make their own biofuel, sell their produce to some of the area’s high-end (and appreciative) restaurants, and often do without. Learn more about them at Path to Freedom.

Still curious about Benicia? In addition to having great sun and soil, I learned that the bayside town was California’s first capitol, predating Sacramento and California’s gold rush. After going inside the old building (now part of a CA state park)  and pretending to legislate, we got to lock the old capitol’s giant door for the weekend with an outsized, cartoon-like key. Benicia also has a charming main street for shopping, antiquing, and taking a self-guided historic walking tour featuring old homes and businesses. I will post a travelogue soon.

In the meantime, like me, you can enjoy looking at this special, bountiful yard and wondering if its owners are still harvesting yummy corn into the fall.

cornyard2

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

Slow News Follow-Up: Berkeley Attempts to Squash Home Garden

No sooner had I posted about the spate of modern homesteaders who are reclaiming their front yards for real growing and community-enhancing spaces than I received a link from my good friend Judd Williams to this piece by Chris Carlsson of the superb SFStreetsblog. It’s about a town that’s attempting to squash a successful long-time front-yard vegetable garden, in favor of something more, say, ornamental and wasteful, like a lawn.

Are you sitting down? This isn’t some planned, gated, sterile community that’s refusing to let its citizens grow a little food in the space where the traditional suburban lawn might go. It’s Berkeley, CA, of all places, bearing down on a gentle Green Thumb who, like many in the enviably sunny, green town, is attempting to produce something of value on his land.

One of the many citations the gardener/homeowner, Asa Dodsworth, has received is for “Unpermitted Garden Beds,” which carries a five hundred dollar a day fine. That’s right — Growing food in the front yard is outlawed.

I, frankly, don’t get it, especially after seeing the pictures of Dodsworth’s mellow, unassuming garden. If this seems wrong to you, too, Chris’ piece provides a lot more information about the situation and which decision makers to write to try to rectify it.

lougarden1

Photo by Susan Sachs Lipman

Slow News Day: A Bumper Crop of Gardeners

Last summer, I noticed a spate of news stories about the rise of home gardening. In July, ’08, Newsweek and NPR both reported that concerns about food safety, as well as an increasing desire to eat locally and healthily, was turning a lot of folks into Green Thumbs. People like Fred Davis and Yvette Roman Davis, bloggers at Beyond the Lawn, reported reclaiming their L.A. front lawn for a thriving Victory Garden.

I thought this was supremely cool, as it seemed to usher in an era of getting away from water-guzzling, appearance-oriented lawns and into practical, food-producing gardens. These prove beautiful, too, of course. It’s just a shift in perspective and priorities that allows us to bring the backyard up to the front. (Some neighborhoods have even loosened their restrictions on such sustainable practices as front-yard growing and line-drying of laundry.)

Peppers

As a bonus, front yard gardeners get to know — and sometimes feed — their neighbors. Community happens when we move yard and porch living out of the private and into the public. This summer, I’ve already heard about two monthly plant exchanges and a weekly vegetable harvest exchange in my neighborhood, as well as new farmers’ markets in my larger community.

Farmersmarket

Of course, further afield, the Obama White House broke ground for its organic vegetable garden (involving local schoolchildren in the process), the first White House vegetable garden since Eleanor Roosevelt’s Victory Garden in the 1940s.

I’m very moved by this picture of First Lady Michelle Obama and children in the garden, that appears in the White House blog. Food from the garden is feeding the White House and Washington, D.C.’s Miriam’s Kitchen, which feeds the homeless.

flotus_garden1_blog

Last week’s San Francisco Chronicle had another story about the rise in home gardening. Chris Romas, the president of W. Atlee Burpee, the world’s largest seed company, said he hasn’t seen this kind of interest in home growing in 30 years. Lots of currents are influencing people to turn or return to gardening — It’s a cost-effective way to supply one’s food, you have complete control over the way your food is grown, you can get in touch with the land, you can enjoy companionship or solitude, and it’s very satisfying to grow and make your own food.

I have fond memories of vegetable gardening with my dad, growing up. We had wonderful raised beds and great Southern California sun. But you don’t have to have either to enjoy growing food. I’ve grown tomatoes on a Manhattan balcony and pumpkin, corn, peppers and more on my fog-shrouded deck in Mill Valley. If you’ve been following my Deck Garden tales, you know the advice to use your vertical space, with trellises and vines. I also urge beginning gardeners to start small, follow seed-pack directions, weed out seedlings so that the hardiest new plantings will have room to grow, and harvest your crops, so you can enjoy them and also give new growth some room to come in.

I’m going to take my own advice and have a big home-grown salad for lunch. This is my 2’x 2′ lettuce box today:

Lettuce2

This is the box a month ago:

Lettuce3

Photos by Susan Sachs Lipman

White House Garden Photo Courtesy of The White House/Joyce N. Boghosian