The days are longer. The sunshine’s stronger. And shoots and buds are wrestling their way through the dark, warming earth.
Spring is here, and it holds special promise this year. Whether you’re a steward of the land or a seed-starting gardener, we need look no further than the White House for inspiration: The Obama family is planting a vegetable garden in their new lawn.
Victory Gardens took root during World War I and World War II as a way for millions of citizens to support the war effort during lean times. In 1943, Americans planted more than 20 million Victory Gardens.
And, by some estimates, they harvested nearly a third of all the vegetables consumed in the country that year. Gardening was good for the family, the community, the country.
According to Obama Foodorama, the Obamas are diving right in. They’ll have 55 varieties of produce, from a patch of mixed berries—blueberries, blackberries and strawberries—to hot peppers, kale, collards and spinach.
Why bother? For one thing, our food travels an average of 1500 miles from farm to table. Between the fossil fuels that farmers use to plant, fertilize and process most conventionally grown crops to the carbon dioxide emitted during the long hauls to our homes, far-flung food takes a real toll on the earth.
Planting a home garden—whether it’s a small plot of lawn converted to climbing peas and rambling pumpkins or a few containers of tomatoes and greens—helps supply your family at least some of your food. In today’s uncertain economy, every dollar saved can buy much more peace of mind.
For me, the real reason to get dirty in all this (and keep digging deeper) is less tangible, and more tasty. (The Obamas will no doubt agree over their first home-grown arugula salad.)
Anyone with children and gardens knows that sending them out to snack on ripe blackberries or ply small hands to pull carrots that have been held by the earth until now, is a simple joy—to the palate and the spirit.