The Victory Gardens of WWI and WWII supported the war effort. People throughout the United States grew their own food in yards, parks, and community spaces so all available resources could go toward the war effort.
Today, we are once again in our green spaces growing food, but today we are fighting a different kind of battle. We are fighting for food security and the health of our ecosystems. We are fighting for resilient communities that support one another and for strong local economies. Through gardening we are seeking a connection to the cycle of life, and for good, tasty food...from garden to plate.
So how does one become a Victory Gardener of today, you ask?
It's quite simple. We become vegetable gardeners. If we are already vegetable gardeners, we help someone else do so through mentoring. We find creative ways to grow food right where we are - in our yards, on our rooftops, on our patios - no piece of earth should be overlooked! We garden ubiquitously and confidently knowing that we are doing what is best for our families, our communities and our country.
Who We Are
Victory Garden Initiative builds communities that grow their own food to create a community-based, socially just ecologically sustainable, nutritious food system for all.
It all started with a group of friends in 2009. Together, they installed 35 raised bed gardens in a SINGLE DAY, serendipitously launching Victory Garden Initiative! In 2016, we built 555 gardens in fifteen days, bringing our grand total to over 3,000 gardens built across Milwaukee and beyond!
Gretchen Mead- Executive Director
Kelly Moore Brands- Community Programs Manager
Beverly Tyree- Education Programs Manager
Meenal Atre- Mission Advancement Coordinator
Polly Muradas- Educator
Ian Powell- Farmer
Logan McDarmott- BLITZ and Volunteer Coordinator
What We Do
OUR PROGRAMS AND INITIATIVES
• THE GREAT MILWAUKEE VICTORY GARDEN BLITZ is our biggest event! With hundreds of volunteers, we install as many 4 x 8 ft. raised-bed gardens as we can in two weeks. 3000 gardens have been built so far.
• Our GARDEN MENTOR PROGRAM matches new BLITZ gardeners with experienced food growers to help them have a successful first season.
• During the FRUITY NUTTY 5 CONTEST each spring, we award 5 community orchards to applicants with the best plans for bringing their communities together around growing food perennially. Each group wins 30 fruit-and- nut producing plants to install in urban environments. We raise excitement and support for this inspiring initiative at the FRUITY NUTTY AFFAIR each February.
• Our MOVE GRASS CLASSES teach gardeners (new and experienced) about garden planning, tree care, permaculture, soil rehab, healthy cooking, rainwater conservation and more.
• YOUTH PROGRAMS take kids of all ages out of the classroom into the garden, getting their hands dirty and their hearts excited about growing food. We work on gardening skills; improved perceptions of produce, soil, and the natural environment; group work; nutritional knowledge, and more. Every Thursday, we open the FARMSTAND, run by the kids that grow, harvest, and market the veggies.
• VICTORY GARDEN URBAN FARM is our community garden, urban orchard, compost site, rainwater harvesting demonstration, and production farm in Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood. We play, eat, learn, explore, and create a tangible vision of a healthy, socially just food system on this beautiful land. We celebrate each September at the FARMRAISER.
• The FOOD LEADER CERTIFICATE PROGRAM creates food system changers—actionists equipped with the tools to lead their community toward a better food system for all. In this yearlong program, participants learn about the food system, community organizing, growing food, and leadership.
Why It Matters
Victory Garden Initiative believes that every person, in every household, can connect to their food source through the act of growing it. This act reminds us that we are of the earth, that we cannot live without the earth; that our needs are met, not by the economy, but by the earth. Growing food will re-integrate us with deep ecology, guiding our culture towards a sustainable, abundant future, freed from financial inequalities.
Envision our post-industrial world transformed to an abundant and sustainable ecosystem through the reintroduction of food growing into our urban ecology. When fruit trees fill our parks, and nut trees are harvested by our neighbors, when food pantries house vegetable gardens and school children participate in growing their lunches, we will have a secure, sovereign, socially just and sustainable food system.