Obama's Victory Garden

Instead of troops overseas fighting for oil, plant a garden here to lessen the dependence on foreign oil.  Graphic courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the U.S. Food Administration, Record Group 4, ARC Identifier: 512498.
In his Inaugural Address, President Obama stated: “Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America. For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.”

This is a call for sustainability in our community, nation and world. Since 9/11, though we went to war, we were not asked to sacrifice, or do anything but go shopping by our then-President George W. Bush.

We have now been told by our new president, “What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility, a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but, rather, seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.”

We can start by doing what we can to improve our communities. I call on everyone to embrace these challenges and show commitment by planting a front-yard, edible Victory Garden.

Activism of this sort is steeped in history: In 1944, the call to plant a Garden for Victory was answered by 20 million Americans and produced 30 to 40 percent of the nation's fresh produce. Even Eleanor Roosevelt participated, on the White House grounds, much to the chagrin of the Department of Agriculture. In 1944, having a Victory Garden was not only expected to help the war effort, it was considered patriotic.

Victory Gardens could help stem global warming by reducing the fuel used in food transportation. Our food travels an average of 1,500 miles, according to www.revivevictorygarden.org, a website devoted to the Victory Garden renaissance. In using less fuel for transport, we might also be contributing to world peace by reducing reliance on foreign oil.

Victory Gardens could also help curb obesity by improving our food quality. According to Michael Pollen, author of "In Defense of Food" and "The Omnivore's Dilemma," obesity in this country is directly related to our nation’s food policy. It encourages our farmers to grow corn and soy beans, building blocks of the obesity-producing fast food and processed foods that are too common in the American diet.

If First Lady Michelle Obama were to plant a Victory Garden, what better example could there be? If meals at the White House were partly homegrown and organic, this could send a serious message to the Department of Agriculture, our nation and the world (and provide a wonderful teaching tool for the Obamas' daughters, Malia and Sasha).

So as the seed catalogs start arriving and thoughts of early spinach, peas and mâche whet my palette, I vow to plant my first Victory Garden. How about you?

Scott Castor, a Heights “ecopreneur” heats his home and water with wood and solar. He owns www.GreenerHomeServices.com.

Read More on Sustainability
Volume 2, Issue 2, Posted 10:12 PM, 01.20.2009