Saturday, August 7, 2010


I spent most of my gardening life, which goes back a couple of decades, digging the dirt in solitary splendor, with even close friends not entirely aware of how much gardening I do. Then three years ago I broke my ankle right at the start of the gardening season.

Unable even to get down my back steps, I started "gardening" on line and discovered an amazing world of connectedness, of dirt-under-their-nails enthusiasts, of people with so much passion and knowledge and desire to make the world better through gardening. I had had no idea that there were other people like me, who wouldn't eat tomatoes in January or strawberries in October. Who never went to the farmer's market, not because there wasn't one, or it was inconvenient, but because I didn't need it. Who believed that gardening in your backyard, or on your porch, or around the corner, could change the world.

With time on my hands from a downsized job, this year I increased my square footage by a third, and joined the revolutionaries at the Peterson Garden Project; we're determined, in the words of founder LaManda Joy, to inspire everyone to grow their own food. (Growing is the easy part, it's getting started, so we're going to make that easy, too.)

We started a garden on the site of an old World War II Victory Garden on Chicago's north side, so I've read a lot about what the term victory means and meant in that context. Because my parents were Greatest Generation parents I've always known what a Victory Garden was, and how it related to the war effort.

But a lot of people now don't make that connection.

So I'm challenging you help us redefine the term. Let's start Victory Gardens to celebrate victory over nutrition-poor factory food. To announce a victory over the idea that our every whim must be satisfied, like tomatoes in January, at the expense of our planet and our health. It's a victory to teach children that tomatoes are sweet, not yucky (it breaks my heart when I hear children say they don't like tomatoes). A victory when neighbors meet for the first time at the community garden. A victory to see the smile on the face of a new gardener the first time she picks a bean that she grew herself.

We've been saying at Peterson Garden that "it's not a garden, it's a revolution." I'm declaring here that it's not a garden, it's a victory.

How do you define victory in your garden?

1 comment:

  1. I'm declaring that a garden is synonymous with victory. :) (I can do that, I'm an editor.)