Grow Lexington. Create Victory Gardens.

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Ace April 9, 2009

BY OBIORA EMBRY
The “Victory Gardens” of World War I and II were the first nation-wide call to action for gardening/farming. Almost 100 years later, we are embarking on another community gardening movement, this resurrection, if you will, of “Victory Gardens”
has been brewing over the last 4-5 years locally as a means to combat some of the
problems created by our industrialized, technologically “advanced” and globalized
food system.
Some of the problems include a lack of food security (Kentucky was ranked 9 in the
nation in 2006 for food insecurity. Between 2004 and 2007, a food assessment was done by Dr. Patrick Mooney and Dr. Keiko Tanaka that concludes that locally there is an issue of food scarcity and food inequality in various zip codes, particularly in low-income areas), an increase in the number of children that have poor eating habits and/or are obese, an increase in the diagnoses of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), an increase in food prices over the last 10 years, an increase in crime by the youth, and 1-2 generations of people that do not know where their “food comes from.”
(Richard Louv will discuss nature deficit disorder, ADD, and getting kids outdoors on April 28 at Sayre School see events listing.)
To combat these problems and others, we are in the process of creating a local network of activists, community organizers, houses of worship, community organizations, gardeners, farmers, concerned citizens, local businesses, universities, local government, and others.

The name of the local network is BUGS (Bluegrass Urban Garden Society) and it was an acronym suggested by Bruce Burris of Latitude Arts in 2005. We have been meeting monthly as an organization since the “Closing the Food__ Gap Conference” in October 2008 and are in the process of becoming an organization can be a local resource to create the future “victory gardens” in Lexington (info www.sustainlex.org). The Lexington victory gardens that we envision include community gardens everywhere. In diverse locations such as: front and backyard gardens; local family farms; gardens at or near (public and private) schools, on university properties, homeless shelters, local businesses, and houses of worship; gardens on vacant lots; and gardens at neighborhood or community centers, including parks; gardens in front of the new courthouses on N Limestone; gardens on hospital grounds and at the back door of restaurants.

It is our desire that the existing gardens and the ones that have yet to be created
will bring a new vision, sense of hope, and purpose to our community;
improve our health and well-being; give us a chance to interact with people of different cultures and generations; (re)connect with Nature; reduce crime; create life and job skills; increase one’s knowledge of ecology, math, science, and
botany; get exercise and Vitamin D for F-R- E-E; preserve our food heritage (use
non-hybrid and non-GE seeds); protect our natural environment—the air that we
breathe, the land from which we harvest our food, and the water we drink; and give
those that cannot afford to buy food a chance to eat fresh, locally grown, and
healthy/nutritious (organic) food. The community gardening movement will also lead to a positive urban transformation in Lexington, as we resurrect the “Victory Gardens” from last Century. ■
Obiora Embry is a Lexington native who has been active in the local community gardening movement since 2005. He is a member of BUGS and hopes that by 2011, there will be a garden at all Lexington schools.



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