Do your part to protect the planet by starting a Climate-Friendly Victory Garden—you can cut your carbon footprint, boost your health, and enjoy delicious, no-cost produce as a result.
Planting a vegetable garden may seem like a simple, minor task. However, there is a long history of evidence that shows the powerful benefits of planting a garden, for both personal and national health. Just look back into our own history, when the nation faced a major food crisis during World War II. Americans were encouraged to implement Victory Gardens, which were self-sufficient gardens in backyards, empty lots, and community gardens that helped meet our nation’s food requirements during that difficult period. Indeed, Victory Gardens provided 40% of the nation’s fresh fruits and vegetables, produced from approximately 20 million gardens! The implementation of Victory Gardens helped support the war efforts, provided a healthy food supply, and offered nutrition access to countless individuals who were experiencing food shortages. These gardens were found just about everywhere, including farms, towns, suburbs, city lots, community gardens, deserted lands, and more! The participation of growing food granted responsibility amongst each individual, improved social relations, boosted morale, and promoted psychological health benefits. Eventually, this concept of community gardening became an optimal part of daily life.
Today, community gardens have become popular due to the enormous success they had during World War II when the nation faced struggling times. In comparison to the historical era in which Victory Gardens were encouraged by the government to help serve the country and support war efforts, today these gardens are utilized to overcome concerns, such as food security, as well as global environmental issues. Our modern version of Victory Gardens provide environmental benefits, improve health and mood, and offer cost-effective produce. The use of regenerative gardening when cultivating crops in community gardens is beneficial for both individuals, as well as communities because it helps to reverse the environmental issue of climate change. A critical factor in the reverse of climate change begins with growing your own food, which can be cultivated in your own backyard! Planting gardens within your community helps to reduce your carbon footprint because it requires less transportation of foods and essentially decreases the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the air. In addition, gardening reduces the emission of greenhouse gases because carbon dioxide is absorbed in plants and soil, rather than released into the atmosphere. Not only do locally grown gardens improve environmental health, but the ability to grow your own garden teaches you to be self-reliant and empowers you to take control of your own nutritional, psychological, and social health. Studies show that human exposure to nature reduces negative emotions, such as worry, stress, and sadness, as well as biological factors, such as blood pressure, muscle tension, and pulse rate. In addition, there are astronomical nutritional benefits from growing your own food, because the fruits and vegetables that are home-grown contain a surplus of nutrients that lead to the improvement of your health.
There’s never been a better time to start your own Climate-Friendly Victory Garden! Even celebrities, like Leonardo DiCaprio, Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, and many others are encouraging home gardening to improve personal and planetary health. You don’t have to be a professional gardener and you don’t have to own an enormous piece of land to cultivate your own vegetable garden. If you’re new to gardening, you may want to begin with a few small steps that allow you to learn and understand the process. But it is definitely worth it, and anyone can do it, whether you garden in your backyard, balcony, community garden, or even your kitchen. To learn more on how to grow your own food, check out my free home gardening toolkit!
Just remember a few key tips when launching your Climate-Friendly Victory Garden:
- Avoid synthetic chemicals and fertilizers.
- Familiarize yourself with the necessary equipment to maintain a garden (see my free toolkit below).
- Prepare and maintain the soil, using compost.
- Plant your vegetables, encouraging biodiversity in your choices.
- Make these small changes in your daily life, which can truly make an impact on both your personal health and the environment.
For some of my favorite recipes that feature produce from a home garden, check out:
Download my free home gardening toolkit here!
Written by Savanna Malki, Dietetic Intern with Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN
Photos: Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN; World War 2 Posters Creative Commons