We’re bringing victory gardens back. This time, it’s for the climate.Climate Victory Gardens reference the Victory Garden movement in the 1940s. All across the country, home gardeners grew 40 percent of the nation’s food as a way to support war efforts during WWII. Today, we need to similarly rally together to solve the climate crisis.
Why grow food at home and build soil health?
- Purchase less food that has traveled across the country;
- Receive the benefits of healthy and safe nutrition;
- Compost food scraps and yard waste, keeping it out of landfills;
- Use less water and decrease erosion, flooding and pollution;
- Reduce evaporation and capture atmospheric carbon in healthy soil.
What is healthy soil?
Together with sunlight, air and water, soil provides the basis for life on earth. Healthy soil itself is full of life! In one teaspoon of healthy soil, there are more microorganisms than people on earth. Healthy soil is also rich in organic matter and carbon that plants can absorb from the atmosphere and store underground with the help of the microbiome. Maintaining this intricate ecosystem is critical for sustaining the wellbeing of plants, animals, humans and the planet!
How does a Climate Victory Garden work?
A Climate Victory Garden is grounded in the carbon-sucking principles of regenerative agriculture, which mimics nature. Plants pull carbon from the air through photosynthesis, and then release it in the form of sugar into the soil. This feeds the mighty microorganisms that supply plants with the nutrients they need to grow. The process also deepens the reservoir of carbon stored in the soil. The more carbon in the ground, the better able it is to absorb carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, like methane and nitrous oxide.
SOIL HEALTH PRINCIPLES
1. Keep soil covered
The best way to keep soil covered is to grow a dense and diverse carpet of plants or grasses, offering microbes both food and shelter. Protecting soil with a layer of mulch holds in moisture, reduces evaporation and cuts down on water vapor, which is another –and largely unrecognized– greenhouse gas.
2. Minimize soil disturbance & external inputs
Tilling, chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides harm the web of life in the soil and should be avoided as much as possible. Alternatively, compost boosts soil health, promoting stronger plants and resilience towards disease, and supporting microbes that feed directly on parasites.
3. Maximize biodiversity
Greater diversity above and below the ground creates a more resilient and productive garden. Plants, insects and animals work together to provide a varied diet for soil microorganisms, with additional benefits such as breaking of disease cycles and creation of habitat for wildlife and pollinators.
4. Maintain living rootsSoil organisms cluster around living roots, where they exchange nutrients with plants. Seeding a variety of warm and cool season grasses, replacing annuals with perennials, or planting multi-species cover crops instead of fallowing are some of the strategies to ensure continuous roots year-round.
5. Integrate animals
Contract with a shepherd twice a year or borrow a neighbor’s goats, sheep or cattle to restore soil health on rangeland. It’s important to move animals often and allow grasses to recover in between grazing periods. Ducks and chickens can provide pest control and free fertilizer. Hedgerows or pollinator strips offer food and habitat for beneficial insects and earthworms thrive in healthy soil.
Graphics by Kiss The Ground
Read Farmer Brown’s advice on growing a regenerative garden: Time for a Garden
Share your progress!
Cultivating even a little patch of soil in your yard matters! A tiny regenerative garden of about a tenth of an acre can offset the carbon emissions of one American adult per year. Regenerative gardens can help reverse climate change by restoring soil health, reducing water vapor and capturing CO2. Planting a garden has the power to change the world.
Put your Climate Victory Garden on the map at greenamerica.org/climatevictorygarden