08/12/2010 03:29 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Americans Need Local Leadership for the War at Home

Dear Mayors of the United States,

As you know from the Mayors' Council reports on the hungry and homeless, and your own experience in downsizing our local government, there is a genuine need for more food for unemployed and/or homeless people. Many of them are formerly hard working taxpayers who want to work. You also know from your reports that 25% of the requests for emergency food for food pantries went unmet.

In the past under such an emergency, there was a call from the government for Americans to unite. During WWII the call for "Victory Gardens" was raised. The American people rose to that call producing as much as 44% of all the produce grown that year. From rooftops to parks 20 million gardens were planted and 9-10 million tons of food were produced.

Besides the victory gardens that are still here from WWII like in Boston and Minneapolis. There are new victory garden projects like in San Francisco and San Diego where they are planting gardens everywhere including Golden State Park. New York has over 800 community gardens.

Some towns have utilized the homeless, providing employment by selling some of the produce they grow at the local farmers' market such as in Santa Cruz.

Some people are lucky enough to have some land to work but don't know how, most others have no land to work. Unemployed mothers and fathers are fighting to feed their children. Please help them find some land to work. There are schools full of children with no gardening skills. Please introduce programs that will teach as well as produce food. Montgomery County Victory Garden movement is fighting at this moment to lift the ban on vegetable gardens in their schools. Getting the youth involved has many benefits including less vandalism and theft.

While I applaud the programs already in place, there is no other project that will get as much return for our dollars than community gardening. The costs are low. The rewards are astronomical. Gardening promotes a 'can do' attitude. It will increase the morale of both young and old alike. There is a sense excitement and accomplishment in growing and eating your own food.

There is a war going on right here in America. We could use you on our side. We need your organizational skills, your ability to communicate with your constituents, but most of all we need your leadership. Please stand by us in this fight. Our children will thank you!


Mike Jensen