In times of global crisis, it is not unusual for the federal government to ask its citizens to help out by planting a home garden. During WWI, the US National War Garden Commission was created to encourage home gardening efforts so that our agricultural producers could focus on growing food for allied troops. “Victory Gardens,” as they came to be known, became even more important during WWII, when food was rationed at home. Check out some cool vintage promotional posters here.

Victory gardens boosted morale by creating a sense of national unity. They provided food security for American families and people around the globe, and gave individuals a sense of control in troubling times. Today we face a different global threat, a viral pandemic that is particularly dangerous to our most vulnerable populations. Once again, home gardening can be a source of agency and community when we need it most. An influx of nutritious, quality produce with a short supply chain won’t hurt either!

Beyond all that, gardening connects us to the natural world in a way our busy lives rarely afford. It gives us a chance to slow down and breathe. There is even evidence that soil microbes can help us combat depression and anxiety. If there is a silver lining to all of this social distancing, it’s that we have more time to garden!

If you want to start growing food at home, but aren’t sure where to start, or if you currently have a garden but feel like you aren’t getting as much out of it as you could, Countryside is here to help. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ll be offering timely tips on gardening in Northeast Ohio and teaming up with the educators at Ohio State University Extension to answer your home gardening questions. Be on the lookout for simple, practical advice in our new blog, “Victory Garden Gurus”!

To submit your gardening question, please email Countryside Farm Manager Ginnette Simko at gsimko@countrysidefoodandfarms.org.

Civic groups distributed pamphlets about home gardening to help the National War Garden Commission during WWI and the program was so successful that information about preserving the bounty had to be disseminated shortly thereafter! This newspaper advertisement hangs on the wall in my home office. Click image to enlarge.

Here’s a recommended Victory Garden Layout for a family of five. Yours does NOT have to be this big to make a difference! Click image to enlarge.

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