Local residents form group, plant Victory Gardens in UC
Posted: Tuesday, December 27, 2011 8:04 pm
By Beth Wright
Special to The Messenger
“Let’s see ... Yum, the spaghetti sauce smells wonderful, the bread is fresh and warm, but before I start the noodles, I need to get the salad together. I’ll just step outside and pick some fresh Romaine, and I think I’ll fill up the colander with some turnip and mustard greens while I’m at it.”
This is typical of the kitchen conversations you’ll hear at my house at dinnertime on many days. Never mind the fact that it is winter, the wind is cold and the trees are bare, I’m still harvesting fresh, FREE, nutrient packed produce from my modest little garden out in the back yard. This can be a regular event at your house, too, and if the Victory Gardeners have their way, home gardens will (ahem!) sprout up everywhere.
The Victory Gardeners Community Gardens Initiative is a local group of energetic, amateur gardeners whose goal is to teach growing, harvesting, storing and sharing of food throughout the community to people of all income levels because good nutrition and saving dollars can work hand in hand. The idea germinated with Stacia McIntosh, the director of Helping Hand Ministry in Union City, and by mid-summer, meetings were being held and gardens were being planted.
The first “Victory Garden” was planted in front of Union City Housing Authority in late August and sowed in turnip and mustard greens. Residents fill bags full of the tender, delicious greens whenever they come into the office — for free. The second garden is a large double lot managed by J.P. Prather located at the corner of Ury and Exchange streets. It was also sowed in greens and has provided free food for local residents, some of whom had no other source of fresh produce. This lot will be divided and the ground plowed into 12-foot by12-foot allotments for spring 2012 for those interested in having a garden but who lack space. Interested residents may call Prather at (731) 234-7651 for more information. Ground has been broken for a third garden at Eastgate Village in preparation for the next growing season.
The Victory Gardeners’ goal of encouraging and facilitating the planting of home gardens hearkens back to the Victory Gardens movement of World War II in which average citizens grew over 40 percent of all the vegetable produce consumed in the U.S. This was of enormous importance to the war effort and greatly benefitted the American people who were finding it difficult to make rations stretch-an all this during a time when there was no Internet for speedy information access. Many of us today are feeling the effects of our economy’s demise, especially those who are already strapped by low income, as we try not to gasp at the rising prices of fresh produce. This dilemma has a simple solution in the home garden.
Consider the following information from the Wall Street Journal (April 16, 2009):
• $70 spent on an average home garden will yield an estimated $600 in produce.
• $1 spent on green bean seeds will produce $75 worth of green beans.
• $1 spent on seed potatoes will generate $5 worth of yummy spuds.
“But what about the costs?” you may ask. That’s where the Victory Gardeners come in. They stand ready with volunteers with tillers and plows to get the soil prepared, they can furnish sources of free mulch, fertilizer and free seed packets from a generous donation made by the local Farmer’s Co-op. There is also a “garden tool lending library” planned for the near future and the group is considering grant writing possibilities to obtain funding for larger expenses one day.
The public is invited to Victory Gardeners meetings held the third Thursday at 6 p.m. every month at the Union City Housing Authority’s community meeting room. Of special interest are the upcoming series of programs by local Master Gardeners to be offered at Victory Gardeners meetings: January 2012 (Soil Preparation); February, 2012 (topic to be announced); and possibly in March as well.
Published in The Messenger 12.27.11