By NITISH PAHWA APRIL 28, 2020
To hear tell of the gardening craze that has spread across the U.S. in recent weeks, it would seem we’re in the middle of a victory garden resurgence. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disrupted supply chains and ground everyday life to a halt, terrified and ingenious Americans are turning to their backyards to revitalize their green thumbs or take on new planting passions.
The original victory gardens, dating from World War I, were top-down national initiatives begun in response to international crop failures and food shortages, not to mention the conscription of farmers to the battlefields. The most iconic of these gardens, from the Second World War, were also a government-led effort, spurred by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help lower the cost of food provided to the troops. Today’s pandemic-spurred gardening initiatives are more of a personal endeavor than an effort to mass produce food for a nation in international battle. But some of the original movement’s spirit remains: Gardening is a way for people to turn their feelings of helplessness into something nourishing. It’s also proved to be a way to form new relationships—community gardening projects, such as Nate Kleinman’s Cooperative Gardens Commission, have sprouted up around the country, with the goal of teaching Americans to garden and providing the food grown to those suffering the most during this pandemic.
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