Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Down and Dirty - Victory Gardens

The Mar/Apr '08 issue of The Essential Herbal is finally "put to bed" and safely at the printer. It has a specific theme and that theme led me to do some research into Victory Gardens of the 40's.

Now whether you see the concept of the Victory Garden as propaganda or a uniting force is probably an individual thing. I personally see it as a little of both. At the same time, I really miss the country that could inspire that kind of spirit. I miss that kind of passion and determination, and wish that we were more motivated to have some role in our own interest.
Victory gardens were responsible for 40% of the vegetables consumed domestically during that time. The Dept. of Agriculture was responsible for the campaign, and it worked. Every bit of yard and every strip of grass was used by some. Public green spaces were converted to gardens.

I think the time is here for another round. We have seeds that produce barren fruit from planned sterility. We have gigantic agri-businesses that spread e coli a few times a year. We have chemical laden produce that cannot be washed well enough to be clear of the poisons. And we have prices so high that people are having trouble putting food on the table. It is time.

It is also time to start learning about the wild edible foods that grow outside everyone's door. Even on the rooftop of a 40 floor apartment building in Manhattan, I found several varieties of edible "weeds". Many of these weeds were brought here by our ancestors, who carried the precious seed across the ocean on ships. They were considered to be delicious vegetables. Over the years, we've come to see them as just weeds. People can and do starve to death, lost in the wilderness, while lying upon FOOD. They just don't know the plants that could sustain them. Many wonderful recipes can be found in the book Wild Foods for Every Table, on our website.
Most people will walk past 5 to 10 edible plants on a given spring day. Wild edible plants are not the tough, bitter things that we expect if we've been raised on processed foods. No! They are tender, tasty, and nutritious vegetables. Some of them are so delicious that people look forward to them all year long. There are even some that have reached nouvelle cuisine status - the fern fiddlehead, the morel mushrooms, and Jerusalem artichoke can sometimes be found in the upscale produce sections. Personally, I'd rather eat steamed nettles and lamb's quarters than many of the more well known greens that are considered domesticated. And more important than ever before, THIS FOOD IS FREE!
I know my vegetable garden will be bigger this year. We've already talked about getting a pressure canner to learn, even though there is plenty of freezer space available between the houses here on the hill. I'm still enjoying last year's peaches. The herb garden will grow as well. There are so many benefits from the herbs - medicines, teas, distillation, body care, soap ingredients, and then just the pleasurable pursuits, like wreaths, baskets, potpourri, and bath tea.
Don't you have a couple of feet of dirt that you can plant in this year?


Janiece said...

You write beautifully and I always want to visit your place after I've read your descriptions. You inspire me in many ways - I will be planting a garden this year, after many years of false starts.

Thanks for dropping by Swisher Hill's blog and your kind words. I must go renew my subscription to Essential Herbal now - it's a magazine that I (and many at work) looked forward to receiving.

Tina Sams said...

Thanks, Janiece. We are very seriously thinking of having an herb festival here in June of '09. It's still in the infancy of planning, but when we know for sure I'll shout it from the rooftops.

Laura said...

This was awesome, Tina! From the great "Uncle Sam" postcard to the highly useful info! Your blog simply ROCKS!

Laura said...

I have to add: this is one of the best posts about how to and why it's so important and delicious (talk about those peaches made my mouth water) and healthy to get green and take care of our gardens and ourselves! Grow, baby, grow!


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