Barbara Lawlor, Nederland. During World War II, Victory Gardens were created by residents in the US to add to the food supply during the war caused food shortage, ensuring there was enough food for our soldiers. Canned vegetables were rationed and people had to find ways to stretch their ration coupons.
Growing their own vegetables also helped divert the trucks and trains usually used to transport produce to help in the war effort. At the peak of the war there were 20 million Victory Gardens across the country, including rooftop gardens which were tended by the residents in the building. Schools had gardens which fed the students and excess produce was canned for the winter.
Not only did the gardens help feed communities, it gave the residents the feeling that they were part of the greater good during the war.
Last Saturday, June 11, 2016, a group of Nederland residents joined to create a Victory Garden in the plot of land adjacent to the Nederland Community Library. Led by James McVey, the author of “The Way Home,” a book on global issues, the adults and children worked the soil, distributed the seeds and plunged feelings into the fresh soil.
They liked the feel of the dirt squishing between their fingers and they really liked watering the garden, and each other, on the warm day.
McVey says that the garden is a non-profit project that promotes and develops local food products and distributes them. “This is a food security and economic opportunity for the planting of food. Organic farming is the single most important activity that ordinary citizens can do to address climate change.”
McVey has lived in the Nederland community for the past five years and is a professor at CU. His book addresses ecology, geology, anthropology, psychology and history, looking into living in the West as well as the broader philosophical issues of global concerns regarding mass extinction and climate change.
The Victory Garden is a community initiative to encourage anyone and everyone to join together in producing their own food. He says this is all about tradition, revolution, good times and a call to action.
This is the second year of the Victory Garden in Nederland and he says it is a growing effort to get the town a greater food security sovereignty. While he was a professor studying species extinction he wondered what he could do as an individual?
“The local organic growing of food made sense; there is less of a carbon footprint, it makes for healthy soil which is a carbon sequestration, which sucks carbon out of the atmosphere in a safe and effective way. Worldwide organic farming would reduce overall CO2 levels, elevate nutrition and health, maximize the local economy and decrease our dependency on the outside world for food. It is an educational perception: We can grow food up here.”
McVey also grows produce at the Magnolia Schoolhouse at the Nederland Community Center. All of the harvest is donated to the Nederland Food Pantry.
He notes that Eldora has a large community garden that allows him to grow food, reviving the local food production effort.
He and Wendy Monroe are the facilitators of the project and he says he wants everybody to be a part of the program, from the ground up, not from the top down. Wendy is a microbiologist who was into local gardens even before global ecological issues.
Climate change is a big issue that has left most people feeling a sense of powerlessness. Undertaking the challenge at a local level is an effective, powerful way to take control and do something positive.
Besides that, the children would agree, there is something about getting one’s hands into the soil.
The large circle plot in the site is a pollinator garden, providing the plants and flowers needed for bees to do their work.
McVey watched the kids throw seeds into the circle and then water them, saying. “The major part of this project is that the earth is going to be our young people’s world. We have to get them interested in these ecological and economic opportunities. This could be a chance for an entrepreneurial person to make a career of growing food. We are trying to promote growing, anyway we can.”
Monroe says they have received $15,000 worth of grow equipment which would enable them to grow food inside, but they would want to use renewable energy to operate it, necessitating an indoor facility and solar energy, but that’s a different look into the future.
On Saturday, the gardeners put in Swiss chard, kale, calendula, radishes, spinaches and native wildflowers.
Wylde Monroe-Kelly, 9, said, “I am gardening at my house too. Gardening is fun, a good experience. It teaches me to be gentle with the plants.” Maggie Lears, 9, said she loves the watering part of the garden and seeing all the flowers when they grow.nBoth children worked on the Victory Garden last year and look forward to seeing the fruits of their labor this summer.