The urban gardening movement is a social and environmental initiative that encourages the cultivation of plants and food in densely populated urban areas. This movement has gained momentum in recent years, driven by a variety of factors including a desire for local and sustainable food sources, the need for green spaces within cities, community development, and concerns about food security.
Here are some key aspects of the urban gardening movement:
Community Gardens: These are shared spaces where people come together to grow fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Community gardens not only provide fresh produce but also serve as centers for community engagement, education, and social interaction.
Rooftop Gardens: Utilizing the often-underused space atop buildings, rooftop gardens can help reduce a building's temperature, improve air quality, and provide a green oasis in the concrete jungle. They can be used for food production or simply as recreational green spaces.
Vertical Gardens: In cities where horizontal space is limited, vertical gardening uses walls and other vertical surfaces to grow plants. This innovative approach can beautify urban environments, improve air quality, and even contribute to building insulation.
Window Farms and Balcony Gardens: Urban dwellers with limited space can use window sills and balconies to grow herbs, vegetables, and ornamental plants. This small-scale gardening can contribute to personal well-being and reduce one's carbon footprint.
Guerrilla Gardening: This is a more activist-oriented aspect of urban gardening where individuals plant gardens in neglected public spaces, such as road medians and unused plots, often without official authorization. The goal is to transform these areas into green, productive spaces.
Edible Landscaping: This approach integrates food-producing plants into urban landscapes, turning ornamental gardens and public spaces into areas that also yield fruits and vegetables.
Sustainability and Education: Urban gardening promotes sustainability by reducing food miles, encouraging composting, and using organic growing methods. Educational programs associated with urban gardens can teach community members about nutrition, food systems, and environmental stewardship.
Social Cohesion: Urban gardens often become communal spaces that foster a sense of belonging and collective responsibility. They can bridge diverse communities, providing a common ground for interaction and cooperation.
Economic Benefits: Urban gardening can help reduce grocery bills, create green jobs, and stimulate local economies through the sale of surplus produce.
Health and Well-being: Beyond providing fresh food, urban gardens offer mental and physical health benefits. Gardening activities can reduce stress, encourage physical activity, and provide a sense of achievement and connection to nature.
The urban gardening movement is characterized by its adaptability and innovation, finding ways to integrate green spaces into the urban fabric despite challenges such as limited space and soil contamination. It reflects a broader shift towards more sustainable and community-oriented urban living.
Growing flowers in your vegetable garden can provide a range of benefits that enhance the health, productivity, and beauty of the garden space. Here are some reasons why integrating flowers among vegetables is a good practice:
Pollinator Attraction: Flowers are excellent at attracting pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and birds. These pollinators are crucial for the fertilization of many vegetable plants, leading to better fruit and seed production.
Pest Control: Certain flowers can repel unwanted insects or attract beneficial insects that prey on common garden pests. For example, marigolds are known to repel nematodes and other pests, while flowers like calendula attract beneficial insects that consume aphids and other harmful pests.
Companion Planting: Some flowers, when planted alongside specific vegetables, can improve the growth and flavor of vegetables through companion planting. This can be due to various factors, including the deterrence of pests, improved soil health, and more efficient use of space.
Biodiversity: Incorporating a variety of flowers increases the garden's biodiversity, leading to a more resilient and balanced ecosystem. This diversity can help to reduce the incidence of diseases and pests while promoting a healthier, more vibrant garden environment.
Soil Health: Some flowers, such as those from the legume family, can fix nitrogen in the soil, making it available to neighboring plants. This natural fertilization can reduce the need for chemical fertilizers and improve overall soil health.
Aesthetic Appeal: Beyond the practical benefits, flowers add beauty and color to vegetable gardens, making the space more enjoyable and inviting. This aesthetic appeal can enhance the gardening experience and even encourage more time spent in the garden, which can lead to better maintenance and care of the vegetable plants.
Cutting Garden: Growing flowers in your vegetable garden can also provide you with a ready supply of fresh flowers for bouquets and arrangements, adding a personal and decorative touch to your home.
By carefully selecting and positioning flowers within the vegetable garden, gardeners can create a harmonious and productive space that benefits from the unique advantages that flowers offer.
The text below has been adapted from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) website on the International Year of Millets.
2023 The International Year of Millets
With an ever-growing global population, the global food system faces many complex challenges, including hunger, malnutrition, limited natural resources and climate change. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger has designated 2023 as the Year of the Millets. The goal of FAO is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. With 195 members - 194 countries and the European Union, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide.
According to the FAO, a solution to the above challenges is to boost affordable and sustainable crop production, as well as increased consumer access to varied diets. Because of their diversity, millets are affordable sources of nutrients for healthy diets that can be cultivated in various adverse climates and arid regions with minimal external inputs.
The Food and Agriculture Organization promotion of 2023 as the International Year of Millets is an opportunity to raise global awareness of the multiple benefits of millets, from nutrition and health to environmental sustainability and economic development. On their website they state the “everyone has a role to play - from governments and private sector companies to the general public, including chefs, home cooks and youth. We need to work together to unleash the potential of millets for human and planetary health and well-being.
For more information about the International Year of the Millets visit:
If you desire to harvest fresh vegetables in the fall, when the cooler weather arrives, mid to late summer is the time to start sowing for your fall garden. Lettuces, collards, mustards, kale, as well as root crops like beets, carrots, turnips. and radishes are all good fall harvest crops. Zucchini, and yellow squashes grow pretty fast (60 days) and are also great crops to plant for a fall harvest.
A FEW TIPS:
To determine when to plant, know the estimated first frost dates for your zone, and subtract the estimated growing time. Amend your soil with compost or fertilizer where summer crops have grown. And add a layer of mulch to help hold in moisture, and protect your crops from late summer heat.
In May, we celebrate Mother’s Day for the lovely mothers, grandmothers, mothers-in-love, and wonderful mother figures in our lives. Observance of the special day often involves the gift of fresh-cut flowers. Instead of, or in addition to cut flowers for Mother’s Day, consider gifting the Mom in your family with seeds for a pollinator garden.
A fitting and enduring way to share a tribute for Mother’s Day is to present an acknowledgment of togetherness. A thoughtful gift could be companion flower seeds, seeds that bloom colorful flowers that attract pollinators to the garden. These complimentary flowers improve garden health, enhance outdoor spaces, attract pollinators, and the plants draw in beneficial insects that help with pest management. Marigolds, lavender, cleome, bergamot, mallow, and sunflowers add beauty, purpose, and low maintenance for the most wondrous presence in our lives.
According to the US Department of Agriculture, three-fourths of the world’s flowering plants and about 35 percent of the world’s food crops depend on animal pollinators to reproduce. Some scientists estimate that one out of every three bites of food we eat exists because of animal pollinators like native bees, moths and butterflies, birds, bats and other animals are hard at work providing vital but often unnoticed services. They pollinate crops like apples, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, melon, peaches, potatoes, vanilla, almonds, coffee and chocolate.
All vegetable and fruit gardens should include a diversity of pollinator plants. Different flower sizes, shapes and colors, as well as varying plant heights and growth habits, support a greater number and diversity of pollinators. Include a combination of native plant species, heirloom plants and herbs in your pollinator garden. Happy Mother’s Day!
With the month of May arriving, finally warm temperatures are here, and you don’t have to worry about that frost. Warm May temperatures have made the soil perfect for sowing seeds. The soil in most vegetable gardens in the Northern Hemisphere should now be warm enough for summer crops. Warm-season crops can be sown in the garden or transplants set out.
And remember, May is Asian American, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month. Consider ordering from our ASIAN GARDEN Seed Collection.
Each year April 2nd is International Children’s Book Day, which is a wonderful awareness and celebration of children’s books. We rejoice in the many books written about gardening, farming, and the outdoors. The importance of introducing young children to growing food and enjoying outside is immeasurable. When children learn about outdoor customs, soil, plants, water, and animals, they discover natural science concepts they can use life long. Watching and waiting patiently while the planted seed grows into a sprout, to a seedling, to a plant with small leaves, and finishing with a flower, fruit, or vegetable are akin to birth, infancy, toddlerhood, and childhood looking forward to an awesome future.
One of the finest ways to bond and support childhood development is to introduce food and farm product cultivation through books. Imagine the stories about fingers in the soil, the first bite into fruit off a vine, or feeding carrot to a horse. Listen to the many questions about where food comes from, the sounds of a chicken, and fruit or vegetable. Children benefit from knowing how food ends up on their plate, how things grow, and who does all the hard work to feed them healthy, nutritious, and tasty bites.
Children’s books about growing food include lessons on responsibility, preparation, caring for plants and animals, outdoor safety, awareness about natural cycles, and appreciation of our environment. There are countless traditionally published garden and farming children’s books to be found by a quick internet search. Here, we share hidden gems with diverse characters written by diverse authors.
Zora’s Garden by Rae Chesney is a charming fictional fact-based garden and storytelling book featuring a young Zora Neale Hurston in her Eatonville, Florida garden. Read in historical voice, “Now some barely get off de ground and some just reachin’ up like dese here plants” makes the expressions as visual as the wonderful and bright colored illustrations by Rae Chesny
The Old Truck by brothers Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey is a loveable story about an old red truck and a little girl on a farm. The truck is worn out over time and rusts in the field. The little girl grows to run the farm and restores the truck back to life. The soft colors and whimsical retro design are ideal for toddlers through pre-schoolers.
Fern and Ginger by Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance members Kathy Anderson and Karen Bowlding tells adventures in foraging, gardening, and farming settings. The siblings enjoy the outdoors while they learn from their Grandma and multi-generational landowner Farmer Sass. Creative colorful illustrations compliment lessons on edible wild plants, farm vegetables, and seeds. Home (karenbowlding.net)
Beans, peas, lentils, soybeans, and peanuts. These are all members of the legume family. Growing legumes in your garden is a great way to provide high-quality protein for you and your family. Black-eyed peas have a different name in each section of the country. Black-eyed peas, also known as cowpeas, field peas, and crowder peas, are a common legume cultivated around the globe.
Several varieties have historically been cultivated in Africa and were transported to the Americas via the transatlantic slave trade, hence a new term is becoming popular, African Peas. By whatever name you call them, they’re an old favorite in the South and can be grown where both days and nights are warm for a period of 60-90 days. Check out our varieties of beans and peas.
CLICK on our BEANS & PEAS link and begin or expand your Legume Garden this year.
Winona LaDuke is part of the New Green Revolution. She runs Winona’s Hemp Farm and partners with the Anishinaabe Agricultural Institute to rematriate seeds, restore foodways and support an economy based on local food, fiber, and energy. They have committed to growing and processing hemp and want to change the textile industry.
Winona (meaning "first daughter" in Dakota language) LaDuke was born in 1959 in Los Angeles, California. LaDuke attended public school and was on the debate team in high school. She attended Harvard University, where she joined a group of Indigenous activists, and graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts in economics with a focus on rural economic development. While working as the principal of the local Minnesota reservation high school in White Earth, Minnesota she completed research for her master's thesis on the reservation's subsistence economy and became involved in local issues. She completed an M.A. in Community Economic Development through Antioch University's distance-learning program.
In 1989, LaDuke founded the White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP) in Minnesota with the proceeds of a human rights award from Reebok. The goal is to buy back land in the reservation that non-Natives bought and to create enterprises that provide work to Anishinaabe. By 2000, the foundation had bought 1,200 acres, which it held in a conservation trust for eventual cession to the tribe.
WELRP is also working to reforest the lands and revive cultivation of wild rice, long a traditional food. It markets that and other traditional products, including hominy, jam, buffalo sausage, and other products. It has started an Ojibwe language program, a herd of buffalo, and a wind-energy project.
LaDuke is also executive director of Honor the Earth, an organization she co-founded with the non-Native folk-rock duo the Indigo Girls in 1993. The organization's mission is:
to create awareness and support for Native environmental issues and to develop needed financial and political resources for the survival of sustainable Native communities. Honor the Earth develops these resources by using music, the arts, the media, and Indigenous wisdom to ask people to recognize our joint dependency on the Earth and be a voice for those not heard.
Ms. LaDuke lives on the White Earth Reservation and spends time farming, working with Honor the Earth and the White Earth Land Recovery Project, as well as participates in environmental justice and social activism. Part of Ms. LaDuke’s vision includes restorative agriculture based on Anishinaabe knowledge and farming with minimal fossil fuel use. The goal is to grow organic fiber, food, and industrial products. In 2022, she received the “Mother Earth (Lady of Agriculture) Award for expanding entrepreneurial hemp operations.
Legacy and Honors
1994, LaDuke was nominated by Time magazine as one of America's fifty most promising leaders under forty years of age.
1996, she was given the Thomas Merton Award
1997, she was granted the BIHA Community Service Award
1998, she won the Reebok Human Rights Award.
1998, Ms. Magazine named her Woman of the Year for her work with Honor the Earth. That same year she also received the Ann Bancroft Award for Women's Leadership Fellowship.
2007, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.
2015, she received an honorary doctorate degree from Augsburg College.
2017, she received the Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance, at the University of California, Merced.
During the month of March Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance, and Ujamaa Seeds are honoringWangari Maathai, Delores Huerta. Winona LaDuke,andVandana Shiva, four inspiring women who have made an enormous difference in agriculture, environmental activism, and more. Hopefully their stories inspire you to honor the Earth and preserve it for future generations.
For the week of March 12 - 18, we honor and feature Delores Huerta.
Dolores Clara Fernández Huerta is an American labor leader and civil rights activist who, with Cesar Chavez, is a co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, which later merged with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee to become the United Farm Workers (UFW). Huerta helped organize the Delano grape strike in 1965 in California and was the lead negotiator in the workers' contract that was created after the strike.
UFW HISTORY & ACHIEVEMENTS
United Farm Workers (UFW), is a labor union for farmworkers in the United States. It originated from the merger of two workers' rights organizations, the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC) led by organizer Larry Itliong, and the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) co-led by Dolores Huerta and César Chávez.
Cesar Chavez was organizing campaigns against discrimination and voter registration with farm workers at the center of his efforts. He and thousands of farm workers wanted to learn about farm worker rights and to build a union. Delores Huerta was an experienced union organizer. Together, they co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) in 1962, which later became the United Farm Workers of America.
Huerta led a national grape boycott in protest against dangerous pesticides and her work led to the adoption of safer grape management practices. Also, she negotiated the first farm worker collective bargaining agreement to secure better work conditions and wages.
Huerta and Chavez became allied and transformed their organizations from workers' rights organizations into a union as a result of a series of strikes in 1965, when the mostly Filipino farmworkers of the AWOC in Delano, California, initiated a grape strike, and the NFWA went on strike in support. As a result of the commonality in goals and methods, the NFWA and the AWOC formed the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee on August 22, 1966. The organization was accepted into the AFL–CIO in 1972 and changed its name to the United Farm Workers Union.
The NFWA participated in voter registration activities, sit-ins, and fought for just wages, improved living conditions, and medical protection. Huerta also coordinated nationwide lettuce, grape, and wine boycotts in the 1970s and her work efforts led to the 1975 Agricultural Labor Relations Act which recognized the rights of California farmworkers to collectively bargain.
According to the UFW’s website the United Farm Workers has achieved historic gains for farm workers. Among them are:
The first genuine collective bargaining agreement between farm workers and growers in the history of the continental United States, beginning with the union contract signed with Schenley vineyards in 1966.
The first union contracts requiring rest periods, toilets in the fields, clean drinking water, hand washing facilities, protective clothing against pesticide exposure, banning pesticide straying while workers are in the fields, outlawing DDT and other dangerous pesticides, lengthening pesticide re-entry periods beyond state and federal standards, and requiring the testing of farm workers on a regular basis to monitor for pesticide exposure.
The first union contracts eliminating farm labor contractors and guaranteeing farm workers seniority rights and job security.
Establishing the first comprehensive union health benefits for farm workers and their families through the UFW’s Robert F. Kennedy Medical Plan.
The first and only functioning pension plan for retired farm workers, the Juan de la Cruz Pension Plan.
The first functioning credit union for farm workers.
The first union contracts regulating safety and sanitary conditions in farm labor camps, banning discrimination in employment and sexual harassment of women workers.
The first union contracts providing for profit sharing and parental leave.
Dolores Huerta currently has about 15 honorary doctorates.
On November 17, 2015, Dolores Huerta was bestowed the Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest decoration a foreign national can receive from the Mexican government. Huerta was lauded for her years of service helping the Mexican community in the United States fighting for equal pay, dignity in the workplace, and fair employment practices in the farms of Northern California.
Huerta received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama on May 29, 2012.
Huerta was named one of the three most important women of the year in 1997 by Ms. magazine.
She was an inaugural recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights from President Bill Clinton in 1998.
In 1998, Ladies' Home Journal recognized Delores Huerta as one of the '100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century', along with such women leaders as Mother Teresa, Margaret Thatcher, Rosa Parks, and Indira Gandhi.
Huerta was conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from California State University, Northridge on May 29, 2002.
On September 30, 2005, she became an honorary sister of Kappa Delta Chi sorority (Alpha Alpha chapter – Wichita State University).
In May of 2006 Delores Huerta received an honorary degree from Princeton University in recognition of her numerous achievements.
In the 2008 Democratic National Convention, Huerta formally placed Hilary Clinton's name into nomination.
Also in 2008, Huerta received the "Maggie" Award, the highest honor of the Planned Parenthood Federation, in tribute to their founder, Margaret Sanger.
In 2008 the United Neighborhood Centers of America honored Delores Huerta with its highest individual honor, the Jane Addams Distinguished Leadership Award at its National Policy Summit in Washington, D.C.
She was awarded the UCLA Medal, UCLA's highest honor, during the UCLA College of Letters and Science commencement ceremony on June 12, 2009.
Huerta was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Mount Holyoke College, where she delivered the commencement address, on May 21, 2017.
Huerta was honored by California State University, Los Angeles in October 2017 with its highest honor, the Presidential Medallion.
Four elementary schools in California and one in Tulsa, Oklahoma; one school in Fort Worth, Texas; and a high school in Pueblo, Colorado, are named after Delores Huerta.
A middle school in the major agricultural city of Salinas, California, which has a dense population of farm workers, was named in 2014 after Delores Huerta.
Huerta received the Ripple of Hope Award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights in 2020.
Pitzer College, in Claremont, California has a mural in front of Holden Hall dedicated to her.
In July 2018, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law AB 2455, by Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes, designating April 10 each year as Dolores Huerta Day.
The intersection of East 1st and Chicago streets in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights is named Dolores Huerta Square.
In Fort Worth, Texas, a portion of State Highway 183 is named in honor of Huerta.
Asteroid 6849 Doloreshuerta, discovered by American astronomers Eleanor Helin and Schelte Bus at Palomar Observatory in 1979, was named in her honor.