Why you should plant a climate victory garden

May 27, 2018, 9:16 a.m.
freshly harvested vegetables
Photo: Morinka/Shutterstock

During both world wars, people back home planted victory gardens. By growing and harvesting their own vegetables, they put less of a strain on the government, which had to feed all the troops overseas. But it was so much more than a public relations move. By 1944, nearly 20 million victory gardens produced about 8 million tons of food, equaling about 40 percent of the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States at the time, according to History.

Now that we're battling climate change, Green America wants us to put on our gardening gloves and start tilling the soil. The environmental organization suggests we have the opportunity to use gardens "as a force for change."

"Instead of gardening in support of war efforts, we are gardening to fight climate change. Shifting garden practices towards principles of regenerative agriculture can be a meaningful part of reversing climate change and sequestering carbon out of the atmosphere and back into the soil," Green America's website states.

Based on the success of victory gardens in World War II and population growth, the organization sees the potential for 40 million climate victory gardens.

Yes, that's a lot of gardens, but the goal is hardly unrealistic, Green America points out. According to the National Gardening Association, 42 million U.S. households are already growing food at home or in a community garden. With some new gardens and some changes to existing gardens, the U.S. could be awash in homegrown produce.

In addition to growing edible plants, Green America encourages composting, planting perennials, avoiding chemicals and keeping soils covered.

"Americans want to take actions that have a direct impact on climate change," said Todd Larsen, Green America’s executive co-director of consumer and corporate engagement, in a statement. "They are also increasingly concerned about the chemicals on store-bought produce. Climate Victory Gardens gives us all a way to reduce our impact on the planet, while ensuring the food we feed our families is safe and nutritious."

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