Do the Patriotic Thing: Grow a Garden
Gardening is patriotic.
For us in the United States, it’s a very American red-white-and-blue thing to do. It’s probably just as patriotic for residents of other countries.
We’ve all read how patriotic gardening was in the past. During the two world wars, people planted victory gardens in their backyards in response to food shortages and rationing. The gardens relieved the pressure on farmers and other food producers, who lacked labor because the men waged war.
But the history of patriotic gardening goes back much further than that. At the country’s Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, delegates often settled their differences by walking through the gardens and nursery created by John Bartram. Bartram found and developed many ornamental plants which are still used in gardens today and sold some to George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson as well as many other important people of the time.
You don’t have to go back decades or even centuries to show how gardeners make our nation better and stronger.
Many market gardeners willfully grow more food than they need so that they can give more to those who need it. Some gardeners just give the glut – and not just the giant zucchini either – to their neighbors. Others drop off additional produce in local pantries.
Harvest for Hunger is a program coordinated by Master Gardeners and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension in which people grow food for soup kitchens and pantries to help provide food to people in need.
New England Garden Clubs, after the two-year tenure of which Suzanne Bushnell of Harpswell served as director, won a national award for its Tackling Food Insecurity Project, in which more than 18,332 pounds of produce and $ 21,461 in cash were donated to food banks in the Region.
Not all gardeners grow food – at least not enough to provide it. Maybe they don’t have enough land for a vegetable patch or that’s not where their interests lie. But gardeners always make the nation and the world a better place.
The biggest threat to the planet is climate change, with temperatures warming everywhere but especially in the polar regions. Science says the main cause of warming temperatures is carbon dioxide – released by planes, trains and automobiles, as well as factories, burning fossil fuels. The plants that gardeners grow feed on and store carbon dioxide, keeping it out of the atmosphere. Trees capture more than short-lived perennials, but all plants store carbon in their roots as well as in the leaves, stems and branches that are above the ground.
People might think that what they can grow on a quarter acre suburban lot won’t make any difference. And to be frank, it won’t. But if it’s a movement, if millions of people on quarter-acre land across the country and around the world make an effort to grow long-lived plants, the total can add up to a great deal. difference.
Gardeners have also reduced carbon emissions in other ways. By harvesting vegetables and cutting flowers on their property, they eliminate pollution from transporting produce from distant gardens. Food and flowers are just steps away, which as a side benefit is good exercise – and it doesn’t produce any pollution.
Composting garden and kitchen waste yourself also helps reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Not only does it not need to be transported to the transfer station – by you or by professional collectors – but the material, when broken down, adds organic matter (in other words, carbon) to your ground.
Gardening helps the environment, and the nation, in other ways. More and more people are growing at least a few native plants, which as we all now know support native birds and other wildlife, which are under serious threat from climate change and habitat loss.
Finally, gardening makes us feel better about ourselves. We’re out for exercise – especially if we avoid pollution-spitting power tools – and show some independence from the world that seems to be intruding more and more – and not just through robocalls and phone calls. junk mail.
Tom Atwell is a freelance writer who gardens in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at: [email protected]