Saturday, July 5, 2008

Victory Gardens return to San Francisco

Did you know that there were once hundreds of vegetable garden plots in Golden Gate Park maintained by local residents? It was all part of the nationwide Victory Gardens program during World War II that encouraged the growing of vegetables on public and private land to help reduce the pressure on the food supply brought on during the war. At its height in the 1940s, these gardens produced over 40 percent of all the produce consumed in the country.

Now there's a big effort to bring back Victory Gardens in San Francisco. Victory Gardens 2008+ is a program of Garden for the Environment and the City of San Francisco's Department for the Environment. This two-year pilot project aims to support the transition of backyard, front yard, window boxes, rooftops and unused land into organic food production areas.

Victory Gardens 2008+ will install at least 15 pilot urban organic food gardens in San Francisco this year. While 1940s-era Victory Gardens were part of a massive government effort to address food shortages during wartime, Victory Gardens 2008+ aims to encourage self reliance and independence from the industrial food system, according to founder Amy Franceschini.

Perhaps the most prominent pilot garden of this effort will be the demonstration garden now underway in front of City Hall (a photo of the garden is shown above). This quarter-acre, edible, ornamental landscape is being organized by Slow Food Nation and will feature a wide variety of heritage organic vegetables suited to the Bay Area microclimate.

The planting for the Civic Center demonstration garden is scheduled for Saturday, July 12 beginning at 9am. To get involved in the planting and to find out other ways you can support this effort this summer, contact with "Victory Garden" in the subject line.

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