You’ve undoubtedly heard a lot of talk about “Victory Gardens” over the past week or so as I have online and in the media; but what is in a name? Why would we talk about Victory Gardens when we aren’t technically at war? But the better question is, why haven’t we been talking about gardening before now in modern Western societies?
Well, to be frank there are a lot of circumstances that contribute to the lack of incentives to cultivate food gardens today. In today’s offering I will be touching on a few of the reasons why growing your own food is important and why a national effort is needed now more than ever.
What is a Victory Garden?
A Victory Garden was a part of the wartime home preparedness efforts of the WWII era United States. They were gardens that each household was encouraged to have to easy the strain of food production on the supply chain.
Like today, with all of the issues with panic buying and hording, there was an issue with being able to get the necessities of life to everyone in the country, let alone to the troops serving on the front lines during WWII.
Because of the strain on the supply chain, the United States government started issuing ration coupons that were essentially food stamps (current EBT cards) that every household would receive and take to their grocery story to get the supplies they needed.
Each category of food was given a set of stamps, grains, dairy and meats. Other things were rationed as well like fuel oil and gas, rubber and all types of metals. For more information on the ration stamps, click *here*.
It quickly became a fad for ladies on the homefront to grow their own food and preserve it by canning. This was the time when “show canning” became popularized (how pretty you can make your home canned goods look). Families all over the country were using any available land to help grow food for their families and communities.
Today, there is a movement within the homesteading community to restart the Victory Gardens movement due to the current international crisis and the pressure it is putting on our nation’s supply chain.
What is the supply chain and why should you care?
The supply chain is what gets you the goods you purchase in shops and online. It is the process by which the raw materials get turned into the final products that you purchase.
So why should you care about the supply chain and what dose it possibly have to do with a Victory Garden and national pride?
Well, if you don’t know, or care, where your products are grown, manufactured and distributed from then how will you be able to ensure that you have what you need when you need it? That’s right! You can’t.
We have recently seen that relying on other countries to do the “right thing” when it comes down to our citizens versus theirs, they will, and should, choose their own citizens every time.
We, the most prosperous nation on the planet currently are in desperate need of basic supplies that use to be produced right here in the good old U.S. of A, but are not manufactured in other places for a lot of reasons that we will not be discussing in this article.
My intent is to give you a basic overview to help you better understand the modern Victory Garden movement and how you can participate in it yourself.
Following WWII, the United States saw a time of economic prosperity the likes of which the world had never seen. Because of our distance from the battlefields in Europe and Asia, we were able to maintain our means of production in almost all sectors of the economy. When the G.I.’s came home they had jobs waiting for them to fill orders from the rest of the war torn world.
This economic prosperity eventually lead to our modern on demand economy where we can get almost anything we want from around the world within a matter of a few days.
This on demand economy, also known as the “just in time” economy, has been serving us well, until now. As I discussed in my most recent video on YouTube, our economy has become so on demand that there is little to no room for error in it. This has been a weakness discussed by economists and military strategist alike for years.
In our modern economy, the products are produced by the lowest bidders from around the world, shipped to the US warehouses, ordered by the store then delivered just in time, or as they are running out the new shipment arrives.
This has been a good system for the consumer because we are able to look around for the best deals and buy at the lowest prices, but it hasn’t been the best for our society and the macro view of our nation’s economic stability.
This system has also been good for the shop keepers because they don’t have to keep a month or more of inventory stored in the shop. They instead can get a shipment every week of the items they are selling the most of, saving them money on overhead costs.
However, this also means that stores only keep about 3-5 days worth of inventory in the shop at any given time. Just enough to get them to through till the next shipment arrives. So, what happens if that next shipment can’t or doesn’t arrive?
The shelves start to go empty and people start to see that there is a shortage. Once they see that there is a shortage, they begin to buy more than usual because they don’t want to go without in case the store runs out, so they panic buy. An example of this would be getting 4 weeks worth of food and supplies instead of your usual 1 week.
This panic buying causes the stores to run out of their regular items faster, leaving more empty shelves leading to more people buying more so they don’t go without and so on and so on, until the entire system collapses.
I know that this might sound like an exaggeration or fear mongering, but it really isn’t. This is a documented panic reaction by people because when people panic it inhibits their ability to think and they do silly things like fight old ladies for a four pack of toilet paper.
Now please, let me be clear; if an individual decides to stock up and they stay ahead of the curve, no problem. The supply chain will remain unchanged. The problem arises when a large number of people do this all at the same time. Think before a snow storm or hurricane. Everyone knows they need things, so they all go at the same time to get those items and the stores run out.
This is the situation we are trying to avoid in the Victory Garden movement. Just think, if it has gotten this bad over toiletries, imagine how bad it would be if the panic buyers were going after the food. Scary, right?
finally, we reach today’s topic: gardening and how it connects to our national pride. So first thing’s first, what is national pride?
National pride is NOT looking out for yourself at the risk of others in your community. It is NOT using a crisis to gain power or prestige within your peer group. It is NOT blind devotion to a flag or group of people without regard for their past grievances or the inability to admit the wrongs committed in the past.
Nation pride IS that pride you feel on the 4th of July when the old veterans hobble by proudly waving their flags in celebration of the values they fought for. National pride IS that sense of comradery with your fellow citizens when there is a tragedy; most commonly natural disasters. It IS that feeling that makes you get up out of your seat and cheer when the US athletes win at the Olympics.
National pride is what unifies us and makes us say that we are Americans. We don’t agree with each other all the time, and don’t see the world through the same lens because of our various regions and the differences in those regional cultures, but we are united by one thing. We are united in the fact that we are all Americans and we all want what is best for our country and fellow citizens…for the most part.
National pride and Victory Gardens
Now that we have all the back ground information that we needed, what dose national pride have to do with Victory Gardens? Everything!
For us to be able to have pride in our nation, we have to have something that we are working towards together. At this current moment we are working to keep the supply chain going amidst the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19. This is especially visible in the grocery stores.
There are countless posts on social media of people showing empty shelves where there use to be food and other essentials asking what they are going to do. If you look at the reports coming from Europe, many countries have totally stopped the exportation of goods, including foods. This means that the countries in Europe that produce the most food on an average basis will be the most well off through this pandemic.
This is also true for other countries around the world. They have shut down production for exportation and demanded that it remain domestic. This is something the United States should do as well. We, as Americans, have a collective big heart, but when it comes down to it, it is our government’s duty to take care of us first.
That means supplying United States citizens with needed life essentials rather than shipping it out to other countries who have become far to reliant on our generosity. I know this sounds harsh and unlike me, and it is to an extent, but it is a conversation that needs to be had.
If you go to church and they are collecting money for children in Africa, but you know that there are several families struggling in your area, who would you rather help if you can only choose one? I know I will always pick the people in my community first. The more people at home we help, the better equipped we will be when it is time to help those around the world.
We must look inward in this time of need to see what we can do to help at a local and on an individual level. Like JFK said:
Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your countrySource
It is the Government’s job to serve its people and to prevent panic when possible. It is not their job to provide you with the things you should have provided for yourself.
Yes, this includes food.
How to start your Victory Garden to foster national pride in your community
Start with your own family. If you live in a tiny New York apartment, look for the sunniest window and put a tomato plant and a large pot with a couple of potatoes near it. Look for a community garden and get to know your neighbors again. Work together to help share in the bounty of what you can do together.
If you live in the suburbs and have a small 1/4 acre lot, build raised beds and start cultivating a future with your family, for your family. Teach your children and their friends that it is ok to go outside and get some dirt on their hands and play Farmer for an hour or so every day.
If you live in a more rural area and are lucky enough to own a few acres like we do, build those raised beds and till the earth. Create your own Garden of Eden in whatever climate you live in. Build a greenhouse or cold frames to extend your growing season.
If you own a large plot of land and are working as a farmer to feed the American public, THANK YOU! You are a super hero who is grossly underrated and undervalued. I have worked with you and understand your struggles and thank you for what you do from the bottom of my heart.
My point is, no matter where you live there is always room for growing your own food. Starting with some containers and then moving to raised beds and even starting a community garden in town on empty lots are great ways to help better your community, and knowing that there are thousands, if not millions of other Americans doing it with you will help to foster that national pride that we have been greatly lacking for some time now.
The more hands we have working together to help build a better community, the more pride we will have in what we have achieved and those who have helped us achieve it. It has also been shown that communities that work together tend to have less crime and instances of depression in their citizenry.
If you would like more information on starting raised beds and gardening in general, check out the links below to my other articles on this topic.
Gardening from the TreadlingHome-stead articles
- Adventures in Gardening: Our first raised beds
- Adventures in Gardening: Raised Bed Herb Garden on the Homestead
- Growing Food from Kitchen Scraps: How to Get Started