Looking for wartime gardening stories

The January 2004 ICanGarden.com Newsletter contains an interesting article about someone who is looking for gardening stories from the 1939-1945 era:

“During the years of WW1 and WW2, Canadian gardeners were asked to support the war effort by planting gardens to produce food for the war effort. I believe part of the program was called Patriotism and Production , and was an organized effort to help the Canadian war effort by food production both rural and urban.

I am looking for information and stories, and any other information I can find about this time in our Canadian gardening history. I am also interested in any organizations which participated in the program and perhaps grew out of it.

Anyone with stories or resources about the WORLD WAR I – CANADA FOOD BOARD and the Canadian War Poster Collection I would love to hear from them in particular. If you have a story to share, a memory, a picture, particularly media releases (newspapers, flyers) , I would appreciate the opportunity to learn more. If you know of Canadian resources about wartime gardening I would be very excited to locate them.

I am gathering this information for personal interest, although I may eventually create a display for our local Agricultural Fair Archive and Museum if I find enough information. I am also interested in learning
more about the school gardening program across Canada and its roots and history. This is an intriguing time in the history of gardening in Canada and our national development. Thanks for sharing your information and any resources you may have.”

Contact Ann Marie at allena@rogers.com if you can help her with this.

Learn about urban agriculture in Cuba

This event looks interesting:

GROWING IN CUBA:Canadian-Cuban Partnership in Urban Agriculture

WHEN:  THIS THURSDAY Jan. 22nd at 7pm !!

WHERE: FoodShare’s Field to Table Centre – 200 Eastern Ave.

ALSO: Friday, Jan 23rd at noon, at York University Faculty of Environmental Studies, Lumbers building Rm 306

WHAT: How does Havana feed its population? What strategies and models have been implemented? And how is the non-profit sector supporting the efforts to increase food security? With a population of 2.4 million people, Havana is providing for its citizens by growing 54% of its food supply in the city limits. Urban agriculture takes many forms in Havana patio gardens, school gardens, organoponicos and cooperatives.

A Victoria-based NGO, LifeCycles, has an ongoing partnership with ACTAF, a Cuban national organization, in Havana in an effort to co-develop both Canadian and Cuba strategies for urban agriculture and local responses to food security. They are working on developing a Centre for the Promotion & Development of Urban Agriculture, supporting several organoponicos, building a womens community kitchen and developing a school garden program.
Sharing successes and challenges of the LifeCycles-ACTAF cooperative organic urban agriculture program, Jacinda Fairholm, the International Project Coordinator, and Linden Huizinga, CIDA-intern, will be giving a talk, slide show and showing a video at 2 locations this week.

All are welcome

MORE INFO: contact Karine Jaouich

directions & contacts: FoodShare’s Field to Table Centre in Toronto

Urban agriculture out of control

At a time when urban agriculture is being advocated in North American cities as a path to sustainable living, it’s good to be reminded of the dangers of automatically applying our solutions worldwide with a broad brush dipped in Western values. We can not stand in judgement or hope to be of any assistance to others without a deep understanding and respect for the unique challenges other countries and societies face:

Zimbabwe: Urban Farming Threatens Harare Water Sources:

“Takawira Mubvami, a scientific programme co-ordinator with Municipal Development Programme (MDP) said ….urban agriculture (is) being practised ‘willy-nilly’ causing environmental degradation and pollution. ‘It
is difficult to stop because of urban poverty but as an organisation we are advocating for sustainable urban agriculture policies,’ said Mubvami.

A study by the Environmental and Development Studies (ENDA-Zimbabwe) three years ago also noted that urban agriculture posed a serious threat to the urban environment.

‘All sites (visited areas) had unacceptable levels of erosion. In addition, almost 90 percent of Harare’s farmers use chemical fertilisers and nearly a third of ‘off-plot’ cultivation takes place near streams, swamps – leading to water pollution through runoff and leaching,’ said the study.”

Don’t get me wrong — I’m a strong advocate of *sustainable* urban agriculture. It’s just good to be reminded of the importance of humility in seeking solutions to a better world.

More on urban agriculture:

RUAF: Resource Centre on Urban Agriculture and Forestry

City Farmer: Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture

Cities Feeding People Program