Rose Hayden-Smith • thevictorygrower.com

immigration

AP History: A poem about immigration. And #victorygardens.

AP History: A poem about immigration. And #victorygardens.

Usually I write about gardens, food systems, and the like. If you read my work, or follow me on social media, you also know that I think gardens and food are patriotic. And political: our forks express our political beliefs. I nearly always write about history, because that is the primary discipline (and passion) that serves as the foundation for the rest of my work. You may have read my book, my blog and various things I post on Twitter. Or on Facebook. I also write poetry. Not well, but with great feeling, ever since I was a little child. Notebooks full. A heartfelt “thank you” to great teachers like Leticia Kelly, Judy Ryder Leer Paleologos and Sue Marshall for encouraging this.

Given the furor about the President’s Executive Order this week, I thought I’d share this with you. It’s a poem I wrote a couple of years ago for a dear colleague who became an American citizen. And the immigration and garden history thing: there’s a link. Because the Liberty/Victory Garden programs of World War I were also about creating common purpose among a highly diverse American population…close to one in five being immigrants at the time.

We can learn from that, can’t we?

 

AP History

a really long poem by Rose Hayden-Smith aka @victorygrower

Each July 4th we celebrate our Declaration of Independence
With fireworks and BBQ and parades.
(We seldom note that the Declaration was read in both English and German).

We forget that grand gesture was only the beginning of a process:
A long and bruising war with an imperial force,
Years of negotiation to create a constitution
That was simultaneously a new and holy thing and also a sinfully flawed thing.

My […]

WW1 gardens, democracy and immigration

WWI gardens, democracy and immigration are strongly linked. A major home front goal of the U.S. government during WWI was to secure and mobilize the support of the nation’s sizeable immigrant population. The iconic posters calling the nation to service were printed in many languages, an acknowledgement of a basic fact in American life: we have inherently been a pluralistic society, even if that fact is not always reflected in our political leadership. Gardening proved to be an important and successful way to unify America’s diverse population during WWI; gardening provides a way for us to transcend our differences today.

Whoever we are, wherever we hail from, however we choose to classify ourselves, our relationship to the land links us. Even when we don’t have direct contact with it, land sustains us. Those who worked on national gardening efforts during World War I understood the connection between rural and urban. They envisioned a “nation of garden cities” … and all that the term promised. Beautiful, vibrant, healthy cities. Abundant and prosperous rural landscapes. Sustainable areas between, foreshadowing the emergence of the great American “middlescape”…the suburb. 

After the Armistice was signed in 1919, one national leader expressed his feeling that the war gardening effort was “a forge that is daily strengthening the links in our chain of democracy…Link by link the chain of our democracy has grown stronger.”

Can the act of gardening really strengthen democracy? I think the answer is “yes.” Read more in “Sowing the Seeds of Victory” here.

“A Garden for Everyone. Everyone in a Garden.”