The Good Earth Calling

A Letter from the Director, Gretchen Mead

Friends,

The Good Earth, by Pearl H. Buck, has been on my reading list since Ms. McCormick’s American literature class in the 9th grade. Lucky for me, I found the novel in a ‘little free library’ while walking to a meeting recently. Spellbound, I read as the Wang Lung family went through a generation of crises that always resolved when Lung went back to the land. Wang Lung shaped his family from the earth – the money, the character, the values, and quite figuratively, the meat on their bones moved from the land, through his hands, and into the family around him. The land, always the saving grace of the family, until the bittersweet end when his son’s forsake the land, leaving us to assume that tragedy will befall them. It is the story of place-making’s inextricable enmeshment with people, land, culture and evolution.

Almost 50 years ago, my parents bought a house with land, where they raised their children, grew veggies, worked, harvested firewood, celebrated, and forest-gardened; slowly guiding the land and the family in a direction. Now they raise grandchildren there on holidays, and extended visits. Together we tend the land, harvest berries, chop wood. They calm the children, with their elder demand for quietude and order, while simultaneously teaching them something that is increasingly rare – having a deep connection to a piece of land is the center of a family.

Here we are now together, you and I and the entire VGI community, in this urban land, long ago developed from subsistence farming, to factory working, to service industry jobs. The land reminds us that we too have forsaken her, as she brings forth 1,000 year storms, diseases of excess, and crises of the spirit.

As Victory Garden Initiative heads towards accomplishing the vision for our new FarmHouse and the Victory Garden Urban Farm, I hold these stories of the land, and many, many others that I have heard through the years, in the light. This farm, now abundant and lush, needs you more than ever.

I wonder who will come make this land their own? Which families will tell stories of the farm they cared for as children? Who will understand that everything begins with the earth, and moves through our fingertips, into our psyche, through our bodies, shaping our muscles, our self-perception, our values, our culture? Who will walk here to gather ripe tomatoes for dinner tonight? Who will use the cabbage to make the slaw that their grandmother’s grandmother made? Who will tell the stories of land to their grandchildren?

It is you and I. Together with the growing Victory Garden community, and with a stirring of truth stirring in your being, waiting to bring to the forefront of your mind the call of this land and this culture that we shape together. The earth calls to you through this work that we do, and this mission, that is our very evolution.

Join us soon, for upcoming place-making activities, celebrations, and invitations to tend this good earth. Come make this place with us, especially, on September 15th, for our annual FarmRaiser, where fun, food, friends, and mission come together for a charming day at The Farm.

~gretchen

Field Trip Report

Last Friday, with wild smiles and a big hugs the urban farm received a huge visit from more than a hundred angels coming from the YMCA Base Camp for Culinary Science Week! During this visit the kids marked the last activity of the camp and the end of their summer but for some of us at VGI it was a first time we experienced welcoming that many kids on the same day. Despite the weather, the kids were happy and energetic and very accepting as they participated in each activity. We divided the kids up into three groups: interacting and learning about the compost, its process and importance to the farm; a tour around the farm while trying to identify and taste different vegetables, fruits, and herbs; and last but not least, cooking and eating spring rolls using the maximum of vegetables they have courage to taste! Some kids were really surprised after tasting some of the vegetables–they thought they would hate it but ended up loving the combinations.

When’s the next field trip you, may ask? We don’t know but what we can say is that we enjoyed this one as much as the kids did gauging by their reactions while trying and tasting their veggies.

by Rokia, IREX Fellow

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Looking for more information about Victory Garden Initiative’s Field Trips? Click here.

Letter from the Board

Dear VGI Community,

Ten years ago, our Executive Director Gretchen Mead had an idea. She planted it, like a tiny seed. With help from others like you who believed in this idea, she nurtured the seed that was the vision of Victory Garden Initiative and as the seed grows into something spectacular – so has VGI! I am sure, like me, you too are very proud of the growth of our organization and also look to the future with high expectations of the impact we can have.

It is our 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY! We are celebrating all that we have done:

  • installing gardens/ bringing fresh food to people’s yards all over the city
  • planting trees and orchards,
  • training community food leaders,
  • launching community gardens,
  • engaging volunteers,
  • BLITZing (bringing together 100’s of volunteers to build garden beds)
  • building our farm, (providing programs for children and adults at The Farm in the Harambee neighborhood)
  • and, teaching children and adults to grow their own food!

None of these endeavors could’ve been possible without you. So this year and always, we also celebrate you. You helped us plant seeds. You helped our gardens grow. You helped our staff excel and our volunteers grow personally. You helped countless neighbors, children and community members. On behalf of everyone at Victory Garden Initiative, we THANK YOU!

On behalf of the VGI Board of Directors, we are deeply grateful for your generosity and continued belief in the impact we make in our community. Your impact will continue into 2018 and beyond. There are exciting things on our horizon. As we continue our current programs, we are exploring new adventures like growing our educational programs at The Farm and creating our very own CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.

Please come to our annual fundraiser, The Fruity Nutty Affair on February 22nd! It is always a fantastic event with amazing food from the best local restaurants, music, and silent auction and all the proceeds go to VGI…..what a fun way to give to Victory Garden Initiative!

Best regards,

Susie Ralston, Chairwoman of the Board, Victory Garden Initiative