“Uncle Sam says – garden to cut food costs,” proclaimed a victory garden advertisement printed by the US Department of Agriculture in 1917. Used to take pressure off of the food supply during World War I and II, these home and public gardens are a trend that is fashionable once again, but for somewhat different reasons.
“Grow vitamins at your kitchen door,” said another poster by the Stecher-Traung Lithograph Corp., a proclamation echoed today by gardeners searching for a way to combat the industrial food landscape.
“Vegetable gardening is becoming more or less a lost art,” Heather Desmarteau-Fast, owner of Stamen and Pistil in Silverton, said. “There is some disconnect in this generation. When do you pick a bean? How do you preserve seeds?”
In 2009, former First Lady Michelle Obama planted the first vegetable garden on the White House lawn since Eleanor Roosevelt’s victory garden during World War II. Roosevelt’s was used to promote gardening in order to ward of food scarcity. Obama’s promoted healthy eating and community education. Both efforts were meant to unite the country and boost morale.
“My hope is that through children, they will begin to educate their families and that will, in turn, begin to educate our communities,” Michelle Obama told The New York Times.
For those interested in following in the footsteps of victory gardeners of the past there are websites, books and classes dedicated to beginning gardening. For those with no land there is square foot gardening, container gardening and vertical gardening, Desmarteau-Fast said.
Community gardening is another alternative. The Silverton Grange carries on a tradition of service dating back to the creation of the Extension Service and the Farm Credit System. The Grange, located at 201 Division St. off South Water, has a community garden. Examples of raised beds, creative trellising and rainwater catching are all there, as well as veteran gardeners ready to answer questions, according to member Jan McCorkle.
“We are happy to continue the Grange tradition by promoting people growing healthy food, informing folks on food preservation and bringing neighbors in our community together through our little Community Garden at the Silverton Grange,” she said.
Whether it’s a backyard garden patch, a green roof or a plot down the street now is the time to plant, Desmarteau-Fast said.
“Start seeding now,” she said. “Start a lot of cool season crops but make sure it’s something you’re going to use and educate yourself on how to use them.”