Paul C. Petrequin
March 21, 2016
Outside Event Paper: Onward to Victory!
In our readings, we have recently been learning about the early 1900’s and World War I. During this time, cities and civilians were asked to have gardens and grow their own food. These gardens were commonly referred to as Victory Gardens. This lightened the pressure for major farms and food companies to provide food for a nation and focus more on providing food for the soldiers. These personal gardens allowed the people to become involved in the war effort and it was satisfactorily rewarding.
For one class period two weeks ago, our History class had the opportunity to work in and tend to the garden on the Chandler-Gilbert Community College campus, in remembrance of the Victory Gardens during the wartime we’ve been studying.
My home has a large, wrap-around planter lining my front porch and then planters lining the wall in front of our property. Growing up, every Saturday was yardwork day. I’m very accustomed to working with plants, pulling weeds, trimming, turning soil, watering, etc. So the prospect of working in a garden, and getting class credit for it, was awesome! I counted the days till the “one” arrived.
We arrived at the garden and were briefed by the overseers (whose names I cannot remember, unfortunately) on our jobs for the day. A pit needed to be dug and sandbags filled with the dirt from the pit. Potatoes needed to be cut and planted in pots. Weeds needed to be pulled. Pepper plants needed to be trimmed. Onions needed to be dug up and replanted. Seeds needed to be planted. Over all, we had a lot of work options! I was excited to get to it. I pushed my large sun hat further on my head (I came prepared because I know from years of experience I burn easily), grabbed some gloves and a shovel and set to carving out the pit we needed to dig and filling up sandbags. I’ve always been the stubborn type where if I have the strength and physical capacity to do something, I want to do it and no one is going to stand in my way or tell me otherwise. It’s a flaw I guess. But there I was along with several other girls doing the laborious digging and filling while the boys planted potatoes. Not that I’m faulting the men for that job, I just bring up the comparison because one of our overseers said “Yeah, there’s something wrong here: boys planting potatoes and girls digging a pit.” I thought it was funny. After the pit was dug and the bags filled, I asked what else I could do. I was set to the task of pulling weeds and trimming peppers. Then the rest of the class was asked to dig up the onions and begin replanting them around the garden. I learned a very valuable food garden tip: onions are natural insect repellents! So not only do they taste good, they serve a very helpful purpose. I even got to take home an onion bulb from the garden, which I took with pride. I didn’t even grow the thing, I just dug it out of the ground and got to take it home. But I still felt a sense of pride in getting my hands dirty, working with the earth and the plants, and reaping the rewards. Then we set about tilling another part of the garden to plant seeds. I was told by an overseer that I was a natural with the hoe, which I guess is a compliment? I’ll take it as one.
In all I felt very accomplished doing this activity! I have long wanted a garden of my own, and this garden day gave me a glimpse into how rewarding it can be to grow your own food. I can only imagine how rewarding it was for the people during wartime to have their own plentiful supply of food. I am grateful to have had this experience. And you know what? I took that onion with me during Spring Break to Texas, where my mom and I were visiting my sister and her family. My sister cooked up that onion in a fabulous stew and I swear it tasted even better because I knew I had worked for that little onion bulb.