The Harraseeket Grange is one of the oldest Granges in the state of Maine. In January, we start celebrating our 150th anniversary. One of our ongoing projects is encouraging members and neighbors to grow the food they are putting on their plates. Last year, we raised enough money to buy a greenhouse. We soon realized that we needed to upgrade the area where we will be setting the greenhouse with a platform and started planning the shelving, etc. Please help us attain our goal!
Our display with contributions from Kathleen, Jude, Walt, Sebastian, Marilea, Lori, Emily, Jordan, Chloe, Cadence, Carol, Andrew, and *Joyce. Our wooden sign was made by a member from 1941 (his name needs to be researched) who was on deployment in Europe where he made the sign. He sent it to Freeport for the dedication of the Kilby Barn for the home of Harraseeket No9.
Pictured: The Grange Little Garden BY KATHLEEN MEADE, PRESIDENT, HARRASEEKET GRANGE NO9 & FCS COMMUNITY GARDEN COORDINATOR. Published in FCS Summer 2022 Newsletter
The COVID-19 pandemic made many people aware of the value and joy of growing their own food. A garden plot means fresh food and outdoor experiences—not to mention yummy food on their plate. Gardening also contributed to some relief for family budgets. It provided fresh food when a stressed supply chain left store shelves bare. Gardening during times of national crisis has a long history in our country. During World War I, President Woodrow Wilson called on Americans to plant vegetable gardens to ward off the threat of food shortages as a civic and patriotic duty. It was the birth of the Victory Garden.
The movement gained momentum during World War II. Eleanor Roosevelt had a Victory Garden at the White house in 1943. Millions of gardens were begun that year. People were encouraged to plant vegetables that took up little space and could be tucked into existing gardens. They grew tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, andtomatoes. Soybeans, nicknamed wonder beans, served as a protein substitute when meat was rationed. By May of 1943, 40% of produce in America came from Victory Gardens. This eased pressure on the supply chain and helped people discover the joys of fresh air and fresh home garden vegetables and fruits.
When COVID-19 hit our shores, our generation suddenly faced supply chain shortages. They effected more than toilet paper! With time on our hands and empty store shelves, many tried their hand at vegetable gardening—some for the first time, while others expanded their backyard plots or repurposed flower beds. From the suburbs to the inner city, modern-day Victory Gardens sprung up all around the country. Seed catalogs arrived in mailboxes. Tik Tok shared ideas on container gardening in city apartments. Instagram feeds showcased fresh backyard lettuce.
It’s not too late to get in on the gardening trend, especially now that inflation is adding extra pressure to family budgets and compounding the woes of pandemic. If you are eager to get your own plot going, now is the time to start with seeds or seedlings. These can be nurtured in a sunny windowsill until they are ready to pop into the ground. Need a little help along the way? Call on the Harraseeket Grange. An original proponent of farm-to-table lifestyle, the Grange offers support to large-scale farmers as well as urban farmers and home gardeners.Don’t have a place to grow? Try container gardening. Start with a small corner of your yard. Or, rent a plot at the Community Garden.
Need some inspiration? Plant a salsa garden of tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. Go for a green smoothie garden full of kale, spinach, and cucumbers. Tuck some edible flowers, asparagus, or rhubarb into your perennial flower garden. You can even plant root vegetables instead of flowering bulbs like tulips.Whatever you choose, you’ll find joy in this healthy, delicious, and totally retro way to free yourself from supply chain woes.