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Make your victory garden even more patriotic by lining beds with American flags.

American Victory Gardens – A Brief History of Food and Freedom

Starting a garden is a fitting way to show your patriotism this Fourth of July. That’s right, fresh grown veggies and fruits are the very reason Cobb Salads and apple pies are so American. And, it just so happens, planting food for freedom is part of our nation’s history.

Victory, Garden Style

During the first half of the twentieth century, as our nation was entangled in World Wars I and II, growing fruits, vegetables and herbs was actually a part of the war effort. These civilian contributions came to be known as Victory Gardens.

By producing food locally, communities were able to subsist on their own harvests while easing demand on the national food supply. Plots ranged from small raised bed gardening on urban rooftops, to large suburban yards and rural fields. According to The National WWII Museum archives, at the height of the Victory Garden during World War II, there were more than 20 million individual plots operating across the USA. Now that’s what we call patriotic produce!

Make your victory garden even more patriotic by lining beds with American flags.

Make your victory garden even more patriotic by lining beds with American flags.

Local Food Fuels Freedom

While container and vegetable gardening obviously did not win the war outright, communities banding together for the common good rightly demonstrates the American Way. While soldiers sacrificed to fight battles thousands of miles away, their families were at home helping to free up food supplies needed overseas while boosting civilian morale.

In peacetime, the same idea of better living and stronger communities rings true. Things have changed a lot since the Victory Gardens of WWII, but the lingering sentiment is just as relevant today. When we have access to our food source and understand its workings, Americans emerge empowered.

Present Day Victory Gardens

Today, nearly 70 years since the Second World War ended, the United States has undergone rapid changes in the way our food is produced, packaged and sold. While supply shortages are no longer a concern as a direct result of war, our country faces new struggles tied to sustenance. As evidenced by childhood and adolescent obesity rates that loom higher than ever (see: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), many Americans have gone astray when it comes to basic nutrition. When did we lose touch with what we put on our meal table?

Many claim the reason behind this quandary is simple: Limited knowledge of or connection to our food sources. Detachment leads to choices based on what is available and affordable, even if that means frozen and processed goods with little to no real nutrition. But what if we could change all that and put American communities back in touch with agriculture and the food they eat?

Several community-based and grassroots movements are aiming to do just that. The Victory Garden Initiative is one such effort, citing in their mission statement that, “When everyone is a farmer, we will have a socially and environmentally just food system.” Kind of like farming for freedom.

Food For Thought this 4th of July

Working to ensure there is fresh and wholesome meals on the table at breakfast, lunch and dinner is about as American as it gets. And on no day is this more apparent than July 4th. This summer, though, rather than relying fully on big box stores for mealtime ingredients, show your local farmers a little love. Or, better yet, grow your own!

To get started on a small scale, raised bed gardening in cedar or redwood is a great way to go. It works anywhere, from the back yard to a downtown rooftop. Also, check out some tips tied to the modern-day Victory Garden, courtesy of the aptly named PBS program.

Kids Gardening – How to Get Everyone Involved at Home

Forget the TV, smart phones, and other gadgets-this summer get your kids outdoors with fun garden activities for the whole family! Gardening is a fun project for kids and teaches them useful skills, all while they enjoy time outdoors with the family. Here are three easy garden projects to get your kids involved:

Terrarium

A terrarium is small enough that it is manageable for a child, and the great growth conditions ensure that nearly everything they plant will thrive. Terrariums are great year round, or if you live in a climate that makes outdoor gardening difficult. It also creates a conversation piece and allows your child to show off their work! To begin, pick out a terrarium container. A great option is this fun apple shaped terrarium. Next, have your child help pick out the plants. Because terrariums act like mini-greenhouses, plants like succulents and cacti are great options. Pair with some river rocks and soil, and soon the plants will be growing. Terrariums can be placed indoors or outdoors and work on nearly every surface, even hung from the ceiling.

Photo Credit: tienvijftien

Give the kids a breath of fresh air this summer with fun garden projects that are just their size!
Photo Credit: tienvijftien

Window boxes

For a project that will always be in view, have your child take charge of a window planter. Wooden planters are great options because they are durable and will match whatever your child decides to plant inside. This redwood planter can be used as a window box or even as a standalone planter. Your child’s creativity can run wild when picking flowers and plants for the box-just remember to take into account the location of the planter in regards to sun and water needs. By picking a variety of colors, heights, and textures, your child can create their own masterpiece in plant form and it will be right outside the window to enjoy each day!

Outdoor planters

A large garden can be intimidating for children, but many outdoor planters come in sizes that are perfect for little fingers. If your child needs a little gardening motivation, consider giving them a uniquely shaped planter to pique their interest. These volcanic rock planters are a fun option. For a larger project, this vertical pot garden allows kids to be in charge of just a few small pots that will still have a big impact. Help your child choose the right materials for planting, such as soil, fertilizer, and plants. Be sure to choose plants that will work in your climate and that are durable enough to withstand a novice junior gardener.

Gardening is a perfect family activity and a great chance for kids to get their hands dirty in a comfortable environment. With these fun kids gardening ideas, your family will be growing their green thumbs in no time!