by Christine Noelle, Director of Operations & Development
This will be my 6th time Blitzing with VGI, my 4th as an employee. I look forward to the Blitz more than I have any other task I have ever done professionally. The Blitz has a special kind of energy about it. Every time you come to a build site or to our staging area, you can feel the sense of purpose in the air. Everyone who works the Blitz believes so passionately in our vision: to build a community with a strong, vibrant, sustainable, ethical local food system. To make it so that every family has access to affordable, nutritious food.
Since the first Blitz in 2008, we have faced many challenges and have always come together stronger than ever. We’ve learned how to deal with late snowstorms, broken down trailers, keys locked in trucks, no-show volunteer crews, website registration form crashes, thrown out backs, and so so much more. Covid-19 was really a curve ball though. We had to change everything about the way we Blitz, systems that we had perfected over 11 years were suddenly useless! And yet we managed to pull it off because everyone involved believed SO passionately in the importance of the work. It took a toll on us, that is for sure. But it wasn’t the physical changes to how we did things that were hardest, it was the emotional toll it took on us. It was hearing the stories from garden recipients about not being able to find food at the grocery store and about being excited to have something, anything to do that was safely outdoors.
This is why we are once again Blitzing again this year.
I was listening to NPR on my way to the office the other week and they were covering the devastation down in Texas. It hurt my heart to hear about people literally freezing to death in their own homes. There are so many stories of grief from that natural disaster. But while the cold temps have moved on and with it most of the national news coverage from our radios and newsfeeds, there are other tragedies yet to come that you probably won’t hear about. News that NEVER seems to take front and center: the food insecurity that will result from this natural disaster. So many farms were left wasted from the cold temps. Livestock froze to death in their barns when generators went down and crops rotted in warehouses, unable to be shipped or processed. The people of Texas are not out of the woods just because it got warm again and the power came back on. There will be continued food shortages. There will be more families relying on emergency food provisions and subsidy programs like WIC and SNAP. Farmers and processors will lose their entire business from this. And this is on TOP of the havoc and stress that Covid-19 had already put on their lives.
There is so much more I could say about the stresses on the American food system over the past year. Not just in Texas, but all over the country for many, many different reasons. But the point is:
THIS is why we Blitz.
THIS is why I, and everyone here at VGI, believes so passionately in the Victory Garden Blitz and our mission as a whole. Because the Western industrialized American food system is simply not equipped to provide for us during times of disaster. (I would argue that it is NEVER really equipped to provide for us, but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post for another day!) Every day in this country, people go hungry. And every year we see the holes in the food system grow. The Flint water crisis. California wild fires. Bee colony collapses. Hurricanes. Droughts. Floods. Covid19. Each time, people are left with an uncertain food supply.
The Blitz absolutely will NOT solve this. There is so much that needs to change in our food system and the way we grow, buy, sell, and produce food in this country to have a truly stable food system. But the Blitz can help families weather the literal and figurative storms better. The Blitz is part of a larger movement to return to a food system where people have power over their food supply. Where food is grown to feed families and not refined into unhealthy additives to fill the cookie aisles at the grocery store. Where people of all ages come together to share their knowledge of growing, cooking, and preserving food and pass that along to the next generation. Through the Blitz, we help to give more people in Milwaukee access to local food and connect people to a network of support, education, skill-sharing, and hope.
MY hope today is that you will join us. I hope you’ll buy a bed! I hope I’ll see you out on a crew helping to build a bed! I hope you’ll come to community dinner. I hope to see you at our farm, picking berries to take home. I hope you’ll share our social media posts. I hope you’ll donate some tools, time, or money to help us build this vision of a nutritious, socially just, environmentally sustainable local food system for ALL.
To buy a bed: https://victorygardeninitiative.org/blitz-registration/
To volunteer: https://victorygardeninitiative.org/blitz-volunteer-registration-hide/
To sponsor a bed: https://victorygardeninitiative.org/sponsor-a-blitz-garden/
To donate to VGI: https://victorygardeninitiative.org/donate/
To give an item from our wish list: https://victorygardeninitiative.org/wish-list/
To sign up for our newsletter: https://victorygardeninitiative.org/subscribe/
To follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VictoryGardenMKE
To follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/victorygardeni/?hl=en
I’m usually the one behind the camera, but I’ve been caught is a few Blitz pics over the years and it brings joy to my heart to look back at it all 🙂