Visiting the Victory Garden outside San Francisco City Hall
This is a guest post from my travel partner, Todd Dwyer, head blogger for Dell’s ReGeneration.org, where the piece originally appeared.
Sarah and I have been having a blast so far learning about what people are doing right now to save the planet. Not only have we been treated to the new ways of thinking and innovations being made to this end, but we have also spoken to people who are looking to past generations for more environmentally responsible practices that we may have lost along the way.
There wasn’t a huge global environmental movement then providing impetus to find the most sustainable practice to accomplish a task. People were just living their lives the way they always had, or responding to other challenges of the time that had nothing to do with “greening” their lifestyle. Laundry was hung out to dry in the backyard, not because their dryers were using up so much energy, but because that was just how it was done back then. More and more people today are starting to rediscover these methods as they search for ways to stop consuming so much energy.
Along these same lines, people are starting to have another look at the concept of the victory garden, a practice that was adopted during WWI and WWII. People across the country were starting their own vegetable and flower gardens, not because they were concerned about whether or not their food was locally grown, but because there simply wasn’t enough to go around. Victory gardens at one time produced up to 40 percent (!) of all the produce consumed in the U.S.
However, I doubt that anyone planted one on the same scale the City of San Francisco has done this year. Right in the heart of the city’s Civic Center, a 10,000 square foot victory garden was planted this year by Slow Food Nation and Victory Gardens 08+ to demonstrate the potential of truly local agriculture, even in the middle of a big city like San Francisco. (OK. Turns out I’m wrong about the scale of this project historically; the city had an edible garden out in front of their City Hall in 1943, and the city itself had more than 250 garden plots in Golden Gate Park alone. At that time, every park in the city had a victory garden. Wow!).
One of the archival images David referenced of San Francisco’s original victory garden can be found here. And all the vegetables you saw will be donated to people with limited access to such healthy, organic produce through a partnership with the San Francisco Food Bank.
Our heartfelt thanks goes to David Pascal, Mayor Gavin Newsom, The Slow Food Nation, Victory Gardens 08+, and the fine citizens of the entire Bay Area of California for their hospitality during our stay there. You guys are doing some truly inspiring work, and I can’t wait to see what is next on the city’s green horizon.
More dispatches are on the way. Stay tuned!