garden rows

Covid-19 Inspired Urban Garden Movement

During the current Covid-19 isolation, many of us are feeling inspired to plant gardens, and thus become part of the urban garden movement. We are stuck at home, have more time on our hands, and many of us are feeling insecure about our food supply. First we saw shortages of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Personally, I thought the toilet paper issue was kind of funny and weird (but I had toilet paper; I would have been less amused if I was out). We then saw shortages of food at the grocery stores – rice, beans, bread, milk, meat, and canned goods have been missing or absent. Limits on those items are now in place. We have been able to get fresh produce but usually not what we ask for – substitutions are common. Like so many others, we decided to plant a garden. We are now part of the (re)newed urban garden movement! The thought of fresh lettuce, carrots, beets, squash, and more, right in the back yard is a great incentive! We are taking a bit of control over our personal food supply.

This new interest in growing some of our own food harkens to another popular and successful urban gardening movement. I am not old enough to have been part of the Victory Garden movement of World War II, but I remember watching the “The Victory Garden”, a show that aired on PBS many years ago. Apparently it was a resurrection of the original urban Victory Garden movement of World War I, when Europe was experiencing alarming food insecurity and shortages. Americans were asked to plant their own gardens to allow the USA to export more to Europe. In the second World War, transportation was diverted to war supplies and once again commercial crops headed for Europe. Food rationing became part of life in World War II; that was a huge incentive for Americans to sign up for the the urban garden movement and citizens began planting vegetables and fruit anywhere they could. Food insecurity in the USA was eased bu the urban garden movement.

Over the subsequent years, our food supply chain became so efficient we have been able to get any type of food we can dream of, any time we want. Strawberries in December? Cherimoya (custard fruit) from Peru? No problem. We never saw any shortage unless some weather event froze all the oranges in Florida, for example. Even then they could still be imported from Brazil and might just cost a bit more than usual. With Covid-19, a strain has been placed on our normal food supply. Many Americans are feeling food insecurity for the first time in their lives. Some are feeling helpless and demoralized because of it. The urban garden movement gives us a way to feel more control over our own personal food destiny and that’s a good feeling.  Not only does it get us out in the fresh air and provide a little physical exercise, it also makes us just plain feel good. The urban garden movement is inspirational and gives us a chance to feel part of a community while we are social distancing in our own back yards.

seedlings
Starting seeds indoors gives you a jumpstart on the growing season.

While I have had a garden in the past, my interest waned and the garden sat untouched for a number of years. The last few weeks, we have been preparing the soil, clearing out the weeds and starting seeds indoors to transplant to the garden when they are ready. Our tomatoes, eggplant and artichokes are already in the ground. I got the labels mixed up on some seedlings so we now have mystery squash growing in the garden. I bet its all zucchini! We are sowing other seeds directly in the garden now that the rain stopped and it feels like spring. We transplanted seedlings before the last spell of rain so had to cover them up with some plastic drinking glasses when it was really coming down. They seem to have made it through just fine.

The urban garden movement is alive and well in my back yard. Since we have more mystery squash, and lots of other seedlings and seeds, we may even branch out to the side yards. Of course the front yard would look great planted in vegetables, too. Who know? We may just have a completely edible landscape before we are through.We are happy to be part of the urban garden movement and feeling great about being more food secure this summer.