It’s a revival, of sorts.
Victory Gardens, which were popular during the First and Second World Wars, have come back around — this time to boost morale during these days of isolation due to COVID-19.
The added benefit? They can contribute to the health and well-being of everyone.
Jonathon MacKay of United We Stand Pictou County revived the idea of a Victory Garden during these difficult days.
“The best diet the British probably ever had was during World War Two when they were rationed and were growing gardens in their back yard,” he said. So the idea of being self-sufficient intrigued him, particularly during the health pandemic when there are so many questions.
“So the thought was people need something meaningful to do, and people need a community. We’ve lost skills in the last decade or so of being able to look after ourselves, so the thought around the Victory Gardens here is to create a community where we can support each other. At the very least you’ve done something productive, you’ve interacted with good people and low and behold, at the end of it you might have some vegetables.”
The UWS Victory Gardens Facebook book is full of posts and shares from hundreds of people who love to garden — members are from all over Pictou County and even as far away as Las Vegas. They are contributing everything from knowledge to planting times locally.
“People bring skills to other people who have interest — and they even self-organized and ordered a small shipment of fertilizer, so we even saved money together. So there’s lots of little interactions like that.”
The site is also a place where little bits of humour are getting shared, which is a commodity that is sorely needed during these uncertain days of COVID-19.
“It’s creating a community. It’s amazing. Time, resources and common value structures are all lining up — we have all kinds of really talented people who are wanting to contribute and do something that’s not just watch the news. Now is the right time. People want community and we’ve never had more time to it and think about that.”
Another benefit to gardening at home — whether it’s a pot on the back step or a garden in the field — is self-reliance. MacKay says, “People are empowered when they can help solve their own problems.”
There’s really no downside to this project, MacKay says. “You get something to do that can help keep you healthy and reduce pressure on supplies for those unable to grow their own food. You could also end up with a valuable commodity to trade if bartering becomes common place in an economy with (temporarily) less employment income.”
He points out: “The worst thing you end up with is time well spent in a garden.”