During World War I and later in World War II, Americans were encouraged to contribute to the war effort by growing, harvesting and storing food on private and public land to reduce the pressure on the public food supply.
Government encouraged citizens to grow “Victory Gardens” during both wars for several reasons. It allowed more commercial food crops to be exported to our allies in order to combat a severe food crisis in Europe. Also, citizens were indirectly aiding the war effort, so it became a morale booster, and they were gratified by the produce they grew.
A Renaissance movement has sprouted in the U.S. in recent years in support of improving health, self-sufficiency and sustainable agriculture.
As of June 2017, 35-percent of households in the United States grew food at home or in a community garden. That’s up 200-percent, or by two million more gardens, since 2008, according to statistics by the National Gardening Association.
Locally, a new gardening group has emerged, G-4 (Growing, Gathering, Gleaning and Giving), to provide gardening space for members of the community interested in joining with others to create a fruit, vegetable and flower garden owned by the First Presbyterian Church. The lot is behind the church and about one block from Hands of Mercy.
Father Jason Terhune of St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church read an article several years ago and began pondering the idea of a community garden. After moving to Fayetteville, he began talking to others about the idea and about the types of community gardens that could be implemented.
He gave a presentation to elders at First Presbyterian Church and about a year ago spoke to city officials about the idea. People have been very excited about the idea and several organizations will be involved.
Some local seasoned gardeners will be offering advice on how best to plant and tend to the garden. Leadership Lincoln will be raising support, and Farm to Table will be involved.
Already, the City of Fayetteville has delivered about 100 loads of leaves for composting, and Fayetteville Public Utilities (FPU) has delivered shredded tree limbs. Another individual contributed wood ash. These natural materials will be used to make topsoil from leaves and other natural materials.
“All sorts of flowers will be planted to attract beneficial insects,” Terhune said.
“It’s not organic but will be as natural as possible,’ Trehune said, while noting that they will try not to use chemicals on the plants.
The garden spot is 100 x 100 feet and will be enclosed with a fence to keep animals out.
“Basically, there will be particular times when everyone will meet and take care of the garden.”
Those who join the community garden will be assigned a spot to care for and there will be rules to follow.
Members will be employing several techniques of growing including “Lasagna Gardening” or using “Back to Eden” methods. Those methods use a layering technique with leaves, wood chips, wood ash, grass clippings and other natural materials.
Some crops will be grown in raised beds, others in compost and some folks will use container gardening. People will be responsible for bringing their own hand tools, though some may want to share them.
“It should be light work for that many,” he said.
So far, about 30 people have expressed interest in growing on the lot, some for their own benefit and others would like to donate the produce to people that need it.
While Terhune has been successful growing flowers, he hasn’t had experience growing vegetables, but others do, and he has the ability to get people together.
“I have a love for the community and love my neighbors, regardless of where they live,” he said.
The community garden will be a place where even people who can’t garden may schedule a time to sit and bask in the sun or gather with others while enjoying the garden environment.
In order to maintain structure, there will be a director over the community garden and up to two garden managers.
“They will be willing to help guide people,” said Terhune. “I’m so thankful for all the people who got involved.”
Because of freezing temperatures and rain, work on the garden has been stalled but will resume once conditions are more favorable.
Terhune hopes that other people will use the idea in other communities or in apartment complexes.
To join 4-G, or for more information, contact Terhune at G4communitygarden@gmail.com or call 931-433-2911.