Let us know if community gardens are popping up by you too- – Rosi
Today, next to her kids’ shiny new swingset, Michelle Obama will begin digging for a little vegetable garden, the first food-producing garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt planted her Victory Garden.
Cilantro, tomatilloes, hot peppers. Lettuces. Spinach, chard, collards, kale. Berries. Herbs and heirloom tomatoes. That’s what the Obamas will plant, alongside school children and a local-foods expert the family brought to Washington.
On Monday night, some people in Hunterdon will ask Flemington Borough Council for permission to plant on a grassy plot by one of its water towers. Iff they say yes, we’ll plant an organic garden we’ll call The Victory Garden.
It will be a community garden, meaning many will participate, growing things together on one blessed, slightly sloping piece of land.
How is this political? This idea emerged from a group I’ve worked with for five years, Hunterdon’s Democracy for America (DFA). These folks have become a permanent progressive community where – believe me – nobody expected one.
The group’s met in the same hip little coffeehouse since 2004 in Flemington, a red town in a red county. We’ve made that town a kind of workshop for grassroots action. A tipping point came one frigid February day in 2007. That same heady night, the first candidate to emerge wholly from Hunterdon DFA, announced she’d run next. And with that win, this town’s direction shifted. Democrats now drive the agenda.
None of them owe us anything; they owe their voters more. But we hope that this new Council will see The Victory Garden as an opportunity to strengthen community bonds, improve nutrition and environmental awareness, and provide for our neighbors in need, some of whom will tend garden and some simply receive good food.
This feels like a very American, progressive and patriotic thing to do right now, and we’re encouraged by how many people show up ready to work and advise. We have a new President who speaks of self-reliance, community-building, and responsibility for the people around us. The economy is dark, and the times are challenging. But we remember our elders and the resourcefulness, how 20 million Americans on the homefront produced up to 40% of the vegetables consumed nationally.
Community gardens are popping up all over, in nearby Readington, East Amwell, maybe in High Bridge. The Victory Garden, if we get the land, will have a built-in mission of addressing some of the needs of people living paycheck-to-paycheck, or worse. If you’re a local, join us Monday.