Friday, June 3, 2011

A Journey of Challenges

For the second year the Victory Garden Foundation launched a campaign to encourage, support, and inspire the installation and maintenance of edible gardens on a single weekend. Our goal was to catalyze 350 gardens and/or gardeners to engage themselves first and foremost as well as their friends, family and neighbors to garden together on one single weekend ~ May 14th and 15th

Congratulations to YOU for being one of thousands around the nation supporting the homegrown food movement by participating in the Transition US 350 Home and Garden Challenge. As a courageous 350 Victory Garden Challenger, you made a collective statement about sustainability and the importance of growing your own food at home through your support, gardening work, photos, educational information and events. Many of you began your challenge journey as early as March transforming your winter garden space. 

This was a journey initiated primarily in cyberspace to connect with new and experienced gardeners everywhere. Along the way, lasting acquaintances were made; we learned about your very special community service;  your passion for growing your own food and spreading the word about the benefits of healthy homegrown foods and all the components that make for great organic meals.

As a bonus, you were offered heirloom vegetable seeds from and residents of the East Bay area in Northern California were offered compost and mulch for your gardens provided by Victory Garden Foundation. 

This unforgettable journey marked the beginning of a growing season that may experience even more challenges. The climate in many locations may be a bit different than last year causing gardeners to adjust plantings and gardening techniques. We may see fewer bees and other pollinators in our areas causing us to do more to attract them to our gardens. And other challenges may cause us to plant a little extra to share with others because of rising transportation and food prices. It all counts and we are very appreciative of your willingness to stand up and be counted for the 350 Victory Garden Challenge.

Through all of our efforts, initiatives and reasons we chose to grow food at home while connecting with each other we have discovered once again our resiliency through the spirit of Victory Gardens. In celebration of the journey and the challenge, stand up and applaud for you and others. Here’s what you did:

·         Registered your gardens: 207 representing about 3,175,942.3 square feet of garden space producing food. That’s almost 73 acres.
·         Placed your garden on the map: 195
·         Cities represented worldwide: 83
·         States in US represented: 30
·         Registered gardens requesting seeds: 86
·         Registered gardens receiving compost and mulch: 10
·         Total number of connections made: 665 (represents new friends on Facebook, Twitter and registered gardens). And, we’re still connecting with new friends!

This is impressive, yet we can do more. Continue to spread the word about growing your food at and near your homes. This collaborative effort shows what we can do together. Special thanks to Transition US for spearheading the challenge this year and to all of our sponsors, supporters, friends and especially to our communication specialist, Kristie Nackord who was extremely instrumental with getting the word out.
Closing out our 350 Victory Garden Challenge for this year here are just a few of the great efforts, information, and stories we learned through our journey:

Compost Cab: located in Washington DC this is a venture that picks up compost ingredients and delivers finished compost to the community. How cool is that! Compost Cab inspired and received the Victory Garden Foundation’s Best New Garden Biz Award.

Rays of Hope: celebrating National Volunteer Week, volunteers of VGF that help others in their gardens and provide homegrown food to those in need received a Rays of Hope backpack as a way of expressing our appreciation for all they do.

Victory Gardens of yesteryear and today – we learned about the synergy of today’s Victory Gardens with those of the 1940s.

Some of our California bees were on vacation at Edmonds Community College horticulture gardens in Edmonds, Washington. Thanks Edmonds for caring for our best friends in the garden.

A city (Pink Hill, NC) will become pink with flowers this summer through the efforts of one family to ‘Bring Back the Pink.’ Thank you Tiny r(E)volution!

And, the Chesterhill Community Garden and the Broadwell Hill Community Garden in Ohio … what amazing groups. Experimenting with vermicompost; they found that vegetables grew 3 times larger and faster than those in regular soil.

We have a wonderful synergy with our Chicago Victory Garden friends.

The men and women at the Somali Bantu Refugee Garden in Utica NY embarked on installing 60 raised beds. Whew!

Friends, there are just so many stories and journeys to tell you about. I’d like to tell you more about what others are doing. There are just so many – remember 207 gardens were registered. Oh, update: We now have 210. But, what I’d really like is to ask you to post your stories and photos to our facebook page. Let’s stay connected.

Many gardeners shared their photos and inspiring stories leading up and after the challenge and are connecting with their neighbors. Instead of saying this is the end, we choose to call it the beginning of continued connections and growth. We encourage you to continue to share your photos and stories with us and all of those who will listen. Indeed you and your initiatives will inspire others to get on out in the garden at or near home for some good old homegrown food! And, most of all, we encourage you to reach out to your neighbors to garden together, share your seeds and produce and build a great community connection.

To the Victory!