A victory for healthy living

Published 8:12 pm Tuesday, April 7, 2015

By Susan Andrews

During World War II, victory gardens were planted to help the war effort by providing food for individual families on the home front, because labor and transportation shortages brought on by the war made it difficult to get food from farms to market.

Well, there is another war raging, and it is happening right here in Suffolk. It is the war on childhood obesity. That, along with the drought in California creating an increase in food costs and possible shortages, means it just makes sense to start a garden — dollars and cents, too.

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The foot soldiers (food soldiers) in this fight are here to help. They are the folks at the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community, who sponsor and give technical support and advice for 16 local community gardens.

As a spinoff of this effort, the partnership is encouraging families to get involved in individual backyard gardening through a garden contest. Participants in the contest have the opportunity to win all the materials for a raised bed garden or three containers and all the fixin’s for container gardening.

All that is required is an application, about 150-200 words about why you would like to start a backyard garden (my computer says I am at exactly 174 words right now) and a willingness to follow through for two summers.

If you are selected to win one of the 17 “starter garden kits,” the partnership will help you every step of the way with technical assistance and support to ensure your success. You don’t even need a backyard; you can put containers on your front porch.

In case you’d like help getting started on your essay, here are a few good reasons for a little garden. I’m sure you will have lots more.

  • Grow your family’s favorite vegetables — none of that yucky stuff
  • Only the freshest, most nutritious and best for your recipes
  • Control what goes into your food and into the environment — no pesticides, no GMO’s (genetically modified organisms).
  • Beautify your landscape.
  • Enjoy being outside and having a little recreation and exercise.
  • A great teaching tool for children to learn where their food comes from and lessons about taking care of living things
  • There is always a time and a season for a garden
  • The size of your yard does not matter. A few small containers or a raised bed can go in just about any sunny location. You can be selective — a salad garden, an herb garden, just cucumbers or tomatoes
  • Your age doesn’t matter. Young or old, you can always grow.
  • Multi-generational opportunities: Parents and grandparents can get children and grandchildren started gardening and vice versa.
  • Convenience: Right at your door, fewer trips to the store
  • Gardening is an opportunity for meditation and relieves stress.
  • Trouble with regularity? Eat more greens.
  • A sense of accomplishment in the rewards of your garden
  • Sharing opportunities: Gardening gives in abundance. Share with the neighbors.

Now that I have gotten you jump-started on your two little paragraphs, start writing. You could win a garden!

You can get an application at www.SuffolkPartnership.org/contest or stop by the office at 1707 N. Main St. and pick one up.

Susan Andrews is a retired teacher and master naturalist. Email her at b.andrews22@live.com.