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Victory Gardens: Retrofitting Chicago 21st Century Style


You’ve heard it before: vintage is in. If that’s the case then victory gardens are the new Spring 2011 Collection.

Its likely you’ve heard the term victory gardens. They were an important product of an effort during World War I and II to find a way of feeding a nation focused on supporting war efforts overseas. The US realized it needed to find an alternative way of growing enough food to support the country’s population while the vast majority of domestic resources went into producing, transporting, and shipping goods for war. Thus, victory gardens took shape.

The idea was, plant a garden close to home. In doing so, help feed yourself and your neighbors AND feel like you’re contributing to the war effort. A true victory if I do say so myself.

And the gardens really were worthy of the label victory. By the end of WWI, five million of them had been created contributing to a total of over $1 billion worth of food. During WWII Eleanor Roosevelt planted a victory garden at the White House to promote and support the cause.  And you thought Michelle was ahead of the game?

Victory gardens were planted in backyards, on rooftops and even in vacant lots. Sounds familiar, right?

If you know anything about the face of urban agriculture today, it looks decidedly similar to how victory gardens took shape. In my mind, this is not a coincidence. Clearly the victory garden model worked to the benefit of this country. And if anyone is into avoiding recreating the wheel, it’s gardeners.

A group of avid gardeners ourselves, We Farm America is no stranger to picking up on the momentum of something great. Its also no secret to us that we’re in the midst of fighting many battles- as a city, a nation and the world over. Our question is, where are the victories?

This growing season, those of us at WFA have decided to revive the notion of gardens as victories. We’ve chosen three neighborhoods in Chicago to help us bring back the victory garden. We’ll be seeking out businesses and other neighborhood stakeholders who are committed to the cause of growing good food in their own communities to help us get word out. We hope that by doing so, we can all start to get back to our roots and become healthier, happier people as a result.

Whats your victory?

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