By John Sandri—
After an unusually unusual winter, we find ourselves still waiting for snow, with spring just around the corner. As the days lengthen the chickens will begin to lay heavier, the sap will run and coltsfoot can be spotted blooming next to the last of the receding snow. It is time to start planning your gardens, planting seedlings indoors and pruning your fruit trees.
During World War I and II, the United States and many of the other countries engaged in the war encouraged their citizens to plant “Victory Gardens.” Victory gardens were planted by private residents in back yards, open spaces and even public parks. In urban areas people built rooftops gardens and formed growing cooperatives. These citizens’ efforts helped supply vast quantities of fresh produce to local communities, where there would have otherwise been shortages. In the United States, an estimated 20 million people took to their yards to produce 9-10 million tons of produce, making up 40% of vegetable production nationally!
Currently New Hampshire is able to produce about 6% of its fresh produce needs, while neighboring Vermont and Maine each produce up to about 40% of their overall consumption. In comparison California produces 80% of the fruit and vegetable production for the entire United States! Californian agriculture is heavily dependent on irrigation that’s drying up, federal subsidies, and increasing transportation costs. Maybe it’s time to revive victory gardens in our New Hampshire communities, and support local farmers in working towards a greater ability to feed ourselves.
If you don’t already have a vegetable garden, consider planting one this year. It is a wonderful way to participate in feeding yourself, it’s free exercise, attracts bird and pollinators, and it can be as challenging or easy as you want it to be. Start by growing something easy like early spring radishes, lettuce, or carrots. If you need help getting started or just have some questions, send them our way: firstname.lastname@example.org. Farmer John’s Plot, a working farm, is committed to increasing local food awareness and production in our Monadnock communities.
Even if you don’t go as far as starting your own garden, eat some of what other farmers or neighbors are growing in the area. Visit one of the area farmers’ markets, farms or businesses selling local products. Buying local means the money recirculates throughout the region, which benefits the community as a whole both economically and socially.
John Sandri, a.k.a. Farmer John, is the founder and director of Farmer John’s Plot, a nonprofit farm located in Dublin.