Did you know that over the past hundred years there have been some really significant urban gardening efforts in the United States? Urban Bountiful: A century of community gardening in America" by Laura Lawson describes the many periods of interest in gardening across our nation's cities. In addition to community gardens, many schools also developed vegetable gardens. Over a century ago the founder of a school garden in New York City, Fannie Griscom Patsons, described the need for school gardens as follows:
City children are alienated form their human birth-rigth of trees, fields and flowers. Encased amid bricks, stone, concrete, trolleys, trucks and automobiles, the crowds of people in our streets are as giants to them, and the blue sky overhead is seldom seen. These conditions are making our children hard and unfeeling. Deprived of their natural lives, impelled by the restless energy of youth, they find mischief the only diversion possible, and they become easy victims of vice and crime.
H.D. Hemensway, Director of the School of Horticulture at Hartford guessed that about 90 percent of the successful businessmen had grown up on farms and learned lessons in productivity through working in the fields. They picked up lessons about independence, hard work, honesty and so on. He noted the following:
While we may not be able to make many farmer and gardeners, we may help to make much better men and women. It is hoped that we may check the flow of people to the city and turn some back again to the country. The school-garden creates a love for industry, a love for country, for nature and things beautiful, and makes boys and girls stronger, more intelligent, nobler, truer men and women.
With the average age of a US farmer being 58 years old, we need to cultivate a renewed interest in farming, not just to develop character in our nation's young people, but also to feed the nation, and others around the world!
I'm pleased that locally the Victory-Robbins 4-H is doing a great job with the garden they've developed at Valley of Peace. They have already begun donating food to the local food shelf, and by the looks of it much more will be on they way. Pictures taken yesterday at the garden are posted to the right.