By Carol Cuccio
Read the full June 2013 issue of Viewpoints.
In the last issue of Viewpoints, we mentioned some of the recent physical changes made to the Victory Garden. We are pleased to announce changes to the garden’s programming as well. The museum’s “Green Thumbs” program, which started in 2009 and was developed to educate six- to twelve-year-olds about nature, conservation, and organic gardening, will be evolving into a new activity with an expanded scope, mission, and target audience.
Community gardening has risen in popularity throughout the United States since the Victory Garden’s beginnings, and a few gardens have even been started locally. Interest has increased in the ways food affects health and the environment, causing a shift in thinking and values regarding the quality of food available. More and more people are demanding to know where food comes from, who grew it, and how it was grown. Thankfully, during this time as well, the Beaumont Farmers Market got its start, offering Southeast Texans a variety of options in fresh and sustainably grown food. The McFaddin-Ward House collaborated with the market, teaching gardening techniques during market days and inviting volunteers to get involved with the Victory Garden.
With the shift in food tastes and ideals, McFaddin-Ward House staff began thinking about the past—of course—that’s what we do at a history museum. We saw the current trend harking back to a time when our parents and grandparents, and the McFaddins, lived more sustainable, simple lives. They knew how to grow their own, and make their own, causing—in a time before they knew the terminology—their carbon footprint to be much smaller than ours is today. For many now, eating food that has been grown in unnatural habitats, kept alive with antibiotics, artificial hormones, and chemical applications, and trucked in from miles away, is unsettling and unsustainable, and they are throwing up their hands, or shovels, in protest.
This trend led us to rethink the Victory Garden’s outreach programming. In recent months, more and more people have approached us to get tips on starting backyard gardens and on switching from chemical to organic agriculture. So we feel that the timing is ripe for a new program. In June, “Roots and Shoots: Teaching Sustainable Living to the Next Generation” will begin. It’s open to everyone; participants are invited to bring a picnic and dine al fresco on specified days on the carriage house lawn, while they learn traditional recipes and gardening techniques that may have been lost over time. “Roots and Shoots” will teach participants how to start organic backyard gardens, how to cook healthy and nutritious meals with homegrown produce, and how to make common household products (such as laundry detergents and toothpaste), to become less reliant on store-bought, plastic-packaged goods. We encourage families who take part to enjoy an outdoor meal together and learn ways to incorporate family time into food production, by either starting a garden or simply cooking a meal together.
For more details on the project, stay tuned to our website for updates or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. E-mail updates and announcements on planned events will be sent in the coming weeks.
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