In the spirit of the Victory Gardens that so many Americans and their allies planted during World War I and II, returning service men and women are now being trained to grow sustainable, plant-based foods, as the latest weapon in the battle against unhealthy diets, environmental degradation (including global warming) and, of course, global hunger.
Since the turn of the 21st century, a growing interest in victory gardens has led to a grassroots campaign promoting such gardens. New victory gardens have sprung up in back yards, public spaces, greenhouses, and commercial agricultural enterprises. Petitions have been circulated to both renew a national campaign for the victory gardens, and to encourage the reestablishment of a victory garden on the White House lawn. In March 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama, planted a “Kitchen Garden” on the White House lawn, the first since Eleanor Roosevelt’s, to raise awareness about healthy food.
Welcome to Archi’s Acres. This small organic farm in Escondido, California, was founded by a retired Marine Sergeant, and operates the Veterans Sustainable Agriculture Training program, in partnership with California State University at San Marcos. Archi’s Acres utilizes hydro-organic technology to grow kale and other produce, plus a variety of herbs in their certified organic greenhouse operation. Their method of crop production is not only highly efficient, it maximizes available natural resources, and focuses on local sales distribution channels. Graduates are ready to help feed our nation the highest quality food available, using the least amount of natural resources, while tapping into a fast-growing sector with unique opportunities for small businesses and family farms. They also assist veterans post-graduation in finding jobs and starting their own businesses.
Eat the Yard is another example of the new trend. Located in Dallas, Texas and the neighboring town of Oak Cliff, Iraq War veterans James Jeffers and Steve Smith are cultivating fresh produce in community gardens. Jeffers and Smith first began organic farming in their own backyards for both therapeutic and financial reasons, and then slowly began to build more gardens in their community. They now sell the produce from these gardens to local restaurants and businesses.
Of course doing good also feels good. One veteran said, “it gives me a sense of inner peace, that I don’t feel anywhere else. I can be a hero in my community, by being a farmer.” Let’s all take a moment to thank our veterans for their service both in far off lands and now increasingly here at home.