Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He has been published in the Boston Globe and the Baltimore Sun.
Due to our response to the coronavirus, the Fed has announced that we may soon be looking at 32% unemployment. So, we better start growing our own food! Fortunately, the Greatest Generation showed us what to do.
We've Had Public Community Gardens Before
During World Wars I and II, the government encouraged planting gardens at private residences and public parks. This was to reduce pressure on the public food supply. President Woodrow Wilson said "Food will win the war," and directed the War Department to launch the United States School Garden Army. The gardens were called Victory Gardens.
Why We Need to Do It
A government task force has recently announced that the Coronavirus may cause some food shortages. So, since president Trump has called this a war, let's get busy protecting ourselves from future pandemics by growing our food as a community!
Thankfully, in some cities, a new movement has been slowly taking hold—the Urban Food Forest Movement—and the time is ripe for it to blast off across America. City governments need to pass emergency ordinances designating park space for food growing, with the space organized by designated local committees. In fact, Detroit has already started a similar project called a Sustainable Urban Agrihood.
Where Should These Gardens Be Planted?
Aside from your backyard or balcony, parks can be used to grow community gardens. Parks already have the advantage of "knowing the land's history." That means, if you know there has never been industrial use on the land, minimum soil testing is required. To start a local match-making thread to match owners of property willing to let someone grow food on it with people who want a garden, but have no space for it, use a neighborhood posting service like NextDoor.com.
The coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity for a long overdue change in the fragile supply chain that makes large parts of our population hostage to the social chaos that can arise from mismanagement in the financial sector. People used to respond with blank stares or smug smiles when you'd talk about prepping, self-sufficiency, and food growing—not anymore! Now they are paying attention.
How to Save Your Food During a Crisis
- Don't throw away uneaten food.
- Learn how to stagger plant.
- Learn home canning.
- Learn food dehydration.
When Should I Plant My Garden?
In most climate zones across the U.S., if you put the fastest growing vegetables (like spinach and baby carrots) in posts or in the ground at the start of April, you'll be harvesting food in four to six weeks—around the middle of May (right about the time you've run through your preps.) Also, don't forget, when properly stored, root vegetables will last a winter.
What Are the Fastest Growing Vegetables?
- Baby carrots
- Summer squash
How You Can Help Your Neighbors
Connect with neighbors and friends online and help them find land to grow on. One terrific resource for connecting with neighbors online is NextDoor.com. In these dark times, everyone should be connected to their neighbors.
You don't even need to buy seeds from online retailers if you learn where to find and save the seeds yourself. Teach your neighbors about this and help them make the most of their resources.
Let's Get to Work!
We'll get through this with American energy, determination, and innovation! As Ben Franklin said, "We all hang together, or we hang separately."
Send this to your kids in the city. Let's get to work! Let's make it so that our grandchildren can look back proudly and sing about how we got through all this.
If you're looking for a story to inspire you during these dark times, you should read about Ron Finley, a man from South Central Los Angeles with a truly inspiring story.
What People Are Saying on Social Media
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on April 06, 2020:
Great topic. Very important that people try to grow what they can as there may be food shortages in our future.