- Author: Chris M. Webb
Rose Hayden-Smith, Ventura County Cooperative Extension director and U.S. historian is passionate about the power and possibilities inherent in gardening. She uses her extensive knowledge of homefront war efforts to help influence public policy in regards to local food systems.
Earlier this year Dr. Hayden-Smith gave a lecture, Victory Gardens: Join the Garden Revolution, at the San Diego Natural History Museum about this topic. The presentation has been archived on our website. The presentation begins approximately six minutes into the video. In addition to the inspiring message, many sources for further reading and a way to connect to the movement are available towards the end.
More about the lecture.
At no point in our lifetimes has the interest in gardening, urban agriculture, and local food systems been so intense. It’s coming from all fronts—economic need, challenges presented by climate change, community-development needs, health and nutrition, food security, reconnecting youth with land, changing understandings of how we use space in urban areas, and a growing desire of Americans for civic engagement and participatory democracy. The past has the ability to inform the present. Review historical case studies, learn about current national policies and models, and discover the future work needed to sustain the Victory Garden model as part of the overall local food movement. Also, learn about urban agriculture and how the local food-systems movement is addressing a wide range of challenges facing Americans today.
Learn more about the victory gardens on our previous related posts.
- Author: Chris M. Webb
Did you know that victory gardens began with WWI? In 1917 the goals of the victory garden movement are surprisingly similar to what we are working towards today. The goals of the garden movement nearly 100 years ago were to:
- Reduce the food mile
- Teach youth about food systems
- Improve nutrition and health
- Mobilize and unify Americans around food conservation and production efforts, particularly gardening.
The victory garden movement of WWI was incredibly successful. In less than 18 months time the U.S. was exporting three times as much grain, meat and sugar as before the war.
- Author: Chris M. Webb
Vegetable gardening has been making a popular comeback in recent years! If you, or someone you know, are interested in starting a garden UC ANR’s Vegetable Garden Basics publication is a great place to start.
Topics covered include:
- Planning your garden
- Tools & equipment
- What & when to plant
Our UCCE Ventura County Master Gardeners are also a great resource for vegetable gardening. The Master Gardener helpline is available on Tuesdays & Thursdays from 1-4 pm. You can reach them by phone at 805.645.1455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition the California Master Gardener website has a lot of good information too.
Straw mulch in vegetable garden surrounding eggplants, peppers, tomatoes.
- Author: Chris M. Webb
Ventura County UCCE Director, Rose Hayden-Smith is passionate about increasing self-sufficiency and nutrition through gardening. In addition to being our director, Rose is currently a Kellogg Fellow. As a Fellow, she is currently working on food policy on a national level. Her tag line is, "A Garden for Everyone. Everyone in a Garden."
We have a wonderful example of these goals in action right here in Ventura County! Community Roots Garden in Oxnard covers a full acre of ground, and is a wonderful example of what can be accomplished by people working together towards a shared goal.
From their website, “The mission of Community Roots Garden is largely to increase food security, both by providing the harvest to those in need and by empowering the community to grow their own food. Besides growing food we are eager to grow community. We want to help ourselves and others become more self-sufficient and food secure. We want to share our food and share our knowledge about how to grow food. And we invite your involvement.”
Please visit the Community Roots Garden website for inspiration, details and contact information.
More about Rose’s work as a Kellogg Fellow can be found her Victory Grower Blog.
Community Roots Garden
- Author: Chris M. Webb
This week Ventura County UCCE’s director, Rose Hayden-Smith travels to Washington DC! Rose is a W.K. Kellogg/IATP Food & Society Fellow and is in Washington this week to attend meetings on National Food and Ag Policy. She will be sharing with us on this important topic throughout the week.
Today has been a blur. Woke up early, dressed carefully and ate breakfast while we discussed a morning meeting with Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and pinned down details about our White House visit.
Because it’s late and it’s been an amazingly long day, I’m mostly going to share about our visit to the White House garden. After attending a meeting at the USDA – and visiting again one my favorite gardens, the People’s Garden – our group walked over to the White House. We took a group picture on the north side of the White House, and then walked over to the south side for a group picture. You can see the White House kitchen garden from there, but it’s not a close view.
After waiting for a bit, we went through security screening. Our instructions were clear. No bags, no pictures, only what you could carry in your pocket. Neither my dress or cardigan had pockets, so I tucked my picture ID, some cash and my business cards in my shoe. (I know, I know). After we passed through security, we entered an atrium type area, where a member of the security staff provided very interesting answers to our questions about history, the First Family, the garden, etc. The staff person confirmed that in fact, Mrs. Obama is often in the garden.
Then, Assistant White House chef Sam Kass arrived. Kass came with the Obama family from Chicago to work in Washington, and has been instrumental in the White House kitchen garden project. Clearly, Kass is also driving pieces of the emerging White House food initiatives. Sam introduced himself to each of us personally, and shook everyone’s hand. We were then escorted outside across the lawn to the garden.
Kass shared a great deal of information about the garden. It’s not a huge garden, but has already produced several hundred pounds of food. Food from this garden is used by the First Family, has been served at official functions, and has also been donated to a local food bank.
Kass allowed us to sample tomatoes from the garden. They were warm from sunshine, and popped with flavor. Many of the plant varieties being cultivated are heirloom varieties, and much of the garden philosophy – and plant material – is driven by one of our founding farmer fathers, Thomas Jefferson. A small plaque in the garden provides a Jefferson quote. Broccoli, lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, herbs, sweet potatoes…and more, including a fig planted among mint. I rubbed the mint leaves and then smelled my fingers…amazing.
The garden is very well-tended…it has to be. There are many visitors. But…it looks achievable. There is also a weather station, and a bee hive, where honey has been collected.
Kass answered nearly every question we asked him thoroughly and thoughtfully. We were not permitted to take pictures.
I deeply appreciate that the First Family is modeling good health and eating by initiating this effort, and maintaining this kitchen garden. I value that the First Lady has school children come to visit the garden to learn. I love that the food produced is consumed by the family, and that some portion goes to less fortunate families. I love the contributions that Sam Kass, with his dynamic nature and good food ideas, has made to upping the status of gardening in our nation today. Thank you all for taking this important step.
Several blocks away, the USDA People’s Garden sends equally positive messages. Sited on the national mall, this garden is a first. Like the White House garden, it sends important messages to thousands of people each day about gardening, healthy eating, and the right use of civic space. A garden on the national mall…sacred space used for a civic purpose.
A special thanks again to my dear friend and fellow Fellow Roger Doiron, whose work promoting the idea of a White House garden really made this visit possible for us. Today was the culmination of a dream for Roger. It was also his birthday, and we sang the traditional birthday song to him as we stood in the White House garden, together, celebrating this special day.
Tonight, well over a hundred people gathered to learn about and discuss the food system. Each fellow was asked to make brief remarks about their work. Here’s what I shared:
“We were a nation of farmers at formation. We are a nation of farmers still, at heart. This is demonstrated by the garden revolution sweeping the nation. Seven million new gardeners this year. Seven million.
Yesterday, and again this morning, I visited the People’s Garden at the USDA. This garden is on the National Mall. Sacred space. I also visited the First Family’s garden at the White House. Both experiences were profoundly moving.
Last night, President Obama told the nation it is a “season of action.”
He is right. It is a season of action: it is time to move these initiatives out across the nation, to begin a NEW American revolution. A revolution that will create a garden in every school, every home, every community, and every workplace across the nation.”
- Breakfast meeting with Fellows to plan next steps.
- Giving talk on the Garden Revolution at U.S. Botanic Garden.
- Meeting with Christine Flanagan, U.S. Botanic Garden.
- Meeting with one of my favorite WWI historians, Elaine Weiss.
- Go to airport, board plane, fly back to Oxnard via LAX.
- If no flight delays or issues, arrive home between 12:30 and 1:00 a.m.
Random Observations: During our visit, we saw the White House basketball court/tennis court. We also saw the First Dog, Bo, on the south lawn of the White House. We were far away, but it was clearly Bo.