Edible Gardening

Grow Your Own Healthy Fruits & Vegetables

In line with President Gay Austin's administration theme “Plant America," the NGC Edible Gardening committee is focused on raising the awareness of the many benefits of creating an edible garden. Whether in the form of a Community Garden, an Urban Farm, or simply a favorite backyard project, edible gardens have the means to transform lives and communities wherever they are located.

Historically Significant
Edible gardens might not typically be associated with baseball or barbecue, but edible gardening is an American tradition just the same. After our country began transitioning from being primarily an agriculture economy, most families in non-urban areas continued to maintain a family garden, and in some cases, family orchards. These produced fresh fruits and vegetables that graced that family’s table throughout the growing season, supplementing wild game and purchased meats and providing an abundance that was “put up” by canning methods to sustain the family’s food supply during the winter months. Particularly during World War II, the U.S. Government asked citizens to help save food for the troops by growing their own fruits and vegetables. While the Americans of the 1940’s commonly planted these “Victory Gardens” to help the war effort, time and urban migration have reduced the number of individuals and families with access to ground to plant traditional vegetable gardens to supplement their day to day needs. With fewer gardens in place, the means to teach younger generations the methods, reasons and benefits of a local garden have fallen away.

Our Goals

Our goal is to reverse this situation and to encourage the creation of Victory-styled gardens to accomplish several things: provide a healthy source for fresh fruits and vegetables; to teach our younger generations the joys and mechanics of creating and maintaining an edible garden; to reverse the effects of “food deserts” throughout the country that contribute to food insecurity for children and families; to shorten the trip between you and your next meal; and provide a habitat that supports pollinators and other wildlife critical to maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Health Benefits
Local edible gardeners benefit by knowing exactly where their food came from— their own backyard. Not only do edible gardens provide healthy fruits and vegetables, an edible gardener can sleep soundly knowing each step that went into their growing and harvesting their produce because they were the ones to do it. Edible gardens also give people a reason to get outside for some fresh air and vitamin D.

Reduce the Miles Between You and Your Meal
Whether it’s a small town gathering or national club, edible gardening can bring a community together. The National Garden Club seeks to unite likeminded people by encouraging them to shop local. Farmer’s Markets are a great way for gardeners to buy and sell produce, and shoppers are learning about and supporting their community at the same time.

Treat Your Garden Like You Would Like to be Treated: Growing Tips
In order to successfully reap what he or she sows, it is imperative that the gardener use good soil. Topsoil, the dirt that one can find in their own backyard, could be contaminated or polluted and isn’t healthy for the garden or the gardener. The better option is to buy high-quality, organic soil from a trusted source. Purchasing safe and healthy soil and planting in raised beds ensures a quality food from a garden of merit.

Being soil smart isn’t the only key to a healthy edible garden. A well-pollinated garden is a happy garden. Planting blooms that attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds near an edible garden helps vegetables to grow healthy and strong. While the gardener should be cautious to mix blooms and vegetables in the same bed, some vegetables will attract pollinators on their own. Keep in mind that many flowers, like roses and nasturtiums, are edible and their petals can be the finishing touch on a beautifully prepared dish. By planting flowers for pollinators, you’re making your backyard more colorful and contributing to a thriving local ecosystem!

Finally, make sure all your hard work is worthwhile. Plant rosemary, garlic, or lavender near your garden to ward off pests like rabbits and deer— they won’t like the smell. If invasive insects are your problem, releasing ladybugs or praying mantises into your garden. They prey on unwelcome bugs and can be a natural and safe solution.

For more information, contact:
Bud Qualk, Chairman: Edible Gardening