In these crazy times, it's no wonder that more and more people are striving to become more self-sufficient. Home gardening is at an all-time high, and the term Victory Garden has returned after many years in hiding. If your not familiar with the term, Victory gardens referred to the private home gardens planted by citizens in the U.S, UK, Canada, and Australia during World War II. These gardens were encouraged by the government to supplement food rations and boost morale. Obviously, our food supply is not being rationed by the government, but with the changes in lifestyle that COVID has brought us, people are certainly trying to learn to be more self-sufficient. This is a great idea, but if your new to gardening, the thought of growing a lot of your own food is pretty daunting. We have found that a CO-OP with friends and neighbors has greatly increased our food variety.
Our neighborhood CO-OP was certainly not intentional, actually, it occurred by pure accident. As I spoke in an earlier blog, our garden is located in our front yard. Not an ideal location and probably not an option for some people due to HOA’s, space, or curb appeal, but this front yard location turned out to be an ideal spot. First of all, our front yard is south facing. This means ideal sunlight year-round, and in the summer the garden is receiving 10+ hours of sunlight. This, along with the drip irrigation system we installed has caused an overabundance of vegetables all throughout the summer, so much so that we couldn’t eat or preserve it all in time. This led us to share with the neighbors. There were no expectations of them what-so-ever, we were just trying to give it away before it went bad. We were so flooded in tomatoes that a few of the neighbors were told to help themselves whenever they liked. This led to some neighbors who already had gardens or fruit trees to begin sharing with us. One neighbor began leaving jars of canned fruit on our doorstep in return for all the produce. Another neighbor began leaving bags of apples from her numerous apple trees. Other neighbors were so inspired by the front yard garden success that they began their own gardens, and started trading produce with us. It has turned into a super beneficial neighborhood CO-OP.
I totally understand if you are thinking right now “there is no way I could do this, I don’t have good neighbors” and I have certainly lived in neighborhoods like that, but we also trade food with friends and family. Since COVID has kicked off, we have had numerous friends and family join the gardening craze, and the CO-OP has grown. It doesn’t even have to be produce that they have grown. Many neighbors and friends trade baked goods, homemade Kombucha, or other types of goodies and plants. There are definitely many ways it can be done, and it has certainly led to a much wider variety of fruits and vegetables available to us, and a much friendlier neighborhood.