Like most others obsessed with the Obamas, I watched with fascination as the First Lady took shovel in hand to prepare the White House Kitchen garden. Watching her, I thought about what we, America, could all learn from Michelle's "Victory Garden." In a time when Americans feel the economy is careening out of control, the First Lady has reminded us that as individuals, we can control some aspects of our lives through good old roll-up-your-sleeves attitude. Creating a vegetable garden produces connectivity to the earth as well as a grounding sense of stability, sustainability and independence.
To help spread the message, Wal-Mart and Ferry-Morse Seed Company have teamed up to send the first 500 readers of this article three packets of starter seeds. Be one of the first 500 people to complete and send in the form below, and start your own Victory Garden.
When my twin brother, Jordan, and I fled 3,000 miles from home to attend college, my parents fell deep into a mid-life crisis. As a result, they purchased and developed Jorian Hill, an organic vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County. Whether it is growing grapes or tending to the extensive vegetables and herbs garden, I have learned the satisfaction that comes from nurturing seedlings into full-grown plants and enjoying the fruits (and vegetables!) of my labor.
I was interested in gaining insight into the recent buzz around gardening. Ferry-Morse saw an increase in sales and vegetable and herb seeds in 2008. This trend has continued in 2009. In addition to Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Home Depot and Tractor Supply Company are Ferry-Morse's biggest clients.
Wal-Mart has also seen growing interest in gardening products. David Ortiz, Senior Category Director, Horticulture, for Wal-Mart Stores in the U.S., explains, "the rising interest in this type of gardening is an indication that everyday shoppers are changing their behaviors in the current economic climate -- learning to save money in new ways large and small." In addition to gardening products, Wal-Mart has felt an increasing interest in local produce. Wal-Mart plans to increase their partnerships with local farmers to meet the growing demands.
According to Wal-Mart, gardening is not region specific, "but a nationwide trend. In every region we see more consumers buying and preparing for grown-at-home vegetables or herbs, and certainly this is evident as soon as it arrives in our stores. We've also seen an increase in purchases of container gardens - it's not just an interest limited to rural areas."
During the past four years, my family and I have experienced the benefits of gardening. Not only is producing our own food a rewarding feeling, gardening has huge positive impacts on the environment. Supporting locally grown organic veggies reduces the importation of produce from overseas, a particularly carbon heavy activity.
With statistics like, approximately 127 million adults in the U.S are overweight, 60 million obese, and 9 million severely obese, it is no secret that America needs to change Her diet. Vegetable gardens offer fresh and pure ingredients without added toxins, hormones, and/or pesticides. My family and I experiment with all sorts of heirloom vegetables that we can't find at markets.
In addition to environmental and health benefits, vegetable gardens help reduce those weekly grocery costs. "Americans have decided to grow their own groceries. For every $1 invested in vegetable and herb seeds - the return is $40 in nutritious and delicious homegrown vegetables. Vegetable gardening is also very popular due to current economic conditions that lead to the need for 'staycation' activities," observes Hamrick, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Ferry-Morse.
Thanks to Michelle and the rest of the Obama fmaily, the vegetable garden has become a hip way to express one's self-reliance; some might even call it downright patriotic. Vegetable gardens are no longer just for Renaissance Fairs, or for people who live on farms. Today, gardens are for people who want to save money on fresh produce, reduce their impact on the environment and desire health benefits.
So now what? Before you leap to find the shovel and gloves buried in your garage, send this on to as many people as you can and ask them to get their hands dirty and reclaim their land. Be one of the first 500 readers to fill out the information below and receive three packs of seeds to begin your own garden.
Thanks for participating! 500 readers already responded! Happy Earth Day AND happy planting to all.
Gardening tips from Ferry-Morse Seed Company:
Almost all vegetables need full sun -- from morning through the end of the day. Soil must be well drained. Add organic material, such as Jiffy Seed Starting Mix to the soil and dig in.
Mulch garden area. Water at soil level, at least 1" of water per week. Keep leaves dry, or water in morning if using sprinklers.
For stronger seedlings, start your seeds indoors with Jiffy Seed Starting products.
When transplanting, make sure to "harden off" your plants by placing them outdoors during the day and bringing them in at night for about 3 to 5 days before placing in your garden.
Other tips can be found at www.Ferry-Morse.com
Seeds will be sent May 1st.
Follow Hillary Newman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ecowarriorr