What Is the Million Gardens Movement, and How Can You Join It?
We found your vegetable gardening squad.
As anyone who's ever attempted to grow a tomato in their backyard or on their fire escape already knows, gardening seems simple but it can be quite challenging. Even so, it's also pure magic. You start with seeds, soil, and water and with a little bit of patience, tending and let's face it luck, you end up with juicy summer tomatoes. As the coronavirus pandemic kept people at home this past spring and summer, #victorygardens could be found everywhere on Instagram, stores sold out of seed packets, and gardening became a creative outlet, a chance to savor fresh air, soothe our anxieties, and hope for the future. The Million Gardens Movement wants to harness the power of gardening to change society for the better. Here's what it is—plus, information on how you can join.
What Is It All About?
Simply put, the Million Gardens Movement is an online community of home gardeners, both novices and those that were practically born with a green thumb. At the heart of the Million Gardens Movement is the belief that gardens can play a role in solving some of the most significant issues of our time. During the spring of 2020, the team at Modern Farmer noticed their website was getting significantly more traffic than usual and that much of that traffic was going to gardening content. They realized that as the coronavirus pandemic kept people at home and shone a spotlight on food supply chain vulnerabilities, many people were interested in starting a vegetable garden. A very diverse group of people made up that group: young and old, urban and rural, white-collar and blue-collar, republican and democrat.
"There are very few places left where you see those people come together. It seemed powerful and magical, and we wanted to help allow this community to come together," said Modern Farmer Executive Director Scott Gilmore. In June, with the support of the Giustra Foundation, they launched a free website and newsletter that serves as a resource for gardeners with tips for growing food, discounts for gardening supplies, an online forum for gardeners to share information, and more.
Why Is This Important?
Because gardeners are superheroes (farmers too). The coronavirus pandemic has revealed the vulnerabilities in our food supply chain and our society. "We thought if we bring this community together, it could give gardeners a tangible role in finding solutions to problems like food security, the vulnerability of our food supply chain and climate change," said Gilmore, adding they drew inspiration from the Victory Gardens movements of WWII. "One of the secrets was it wasn't about the food. It gave people a tangible role in fighting the war and made them feel like they were participants," said Gilmore.
In addition to resources for growing food, the Million Gardens Movement supplies information on how to donate that food or money to food banks and Chef José Andrés World Central Kitchen, with whom they have a partnership.
How Do I Get Involved?
Visit the Million Gardens Movement website or Google it. Sign up for the newsletter and start exploring. There's an archive of gardening content, a database where you can search by zip code to get location-specific growing advice, a forum for gardeners to ask and answer questions, and links to local food banks.
Go find your vegetable gardening squad!