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Victory Gardens by Jim Conley – CSU Extension

WALSENBURG- Several decades ago,  our nation faced the difficult days of World War II.  The war reduced the available labor that would normally be involved in growing, harvesting, processing and transporting the nation’s food supply.  Men were called to war.  Women were called to work in factories, making goods and equipment for our nation’s soldiers.  Food supplies dwindled to record lows.  In response,  the government turned to its citizens and encouraged them to plant “Victory Gardens”, in order to provide more food for themselves, and collectively, for the nation.  By 1943, Americans planted more than 20 million victory gardens – at homes and schools and in parks – that produced an estimated 8 million tons of food!  Citizens viewed the Victory Garden as a way to grow fresh fruit and vegetables, as a way to share with their neighbors, and as a way to serve their nation.  It taught lifelong skills and gave even the youth of our nation an opportunity to contribute to the effort in a meaningful manner.

    While today’s economic news isn’t nearly as dark as the 1940s, were reminded daily of the job losses and home foreclosures.  We’re facing tough times!  With this in mind, we’re kicking off a series of gardening workshops to help our citizens grow some of their own food supply.  This effort is being co-sponsored by our office, the CSU Master Gardeners of Huerfano County, the Spanish Peaks Library District, the La Veta Library District and the Huerfano Chamber of Commerce.  We’ve joined together to bring you some outstanding speakers, and we’re holding workshops in Walsenburg, La Veta and Gardner.

    Our first workshop is this Saturday, Feb 14th, at the Huerfano County Community Center in Walsenburg (928 Russell from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm).  This workshop will be conducted by Penn and Cord Parmenter of Westcliffe.  Penn and Cord have been growing vegetables at an elevation of over 8,000 ft for 17 years.  Penn is in demand as a trainer and speaker across the state.  Later in the month she will be speaking at the Denver Botanic Gardens.  The Parmenters have an action-packed presentation and will captivate you with their knowledge of, and passion for, gardening.

    Some of the topics you can expect this Saturday include : perennial vegetables, variety selection for high-elevation gardens, starting seed in recycled materials, composting, successful tomatoes at high altitude, organic fertilizers, container growing, cloches, bio-intensive beds, passive solar greenhouse design, minimizing wind damage, cold frames and hoop houses!

    Our next two gardening workshops will be March 21 in La Veta and April 18 in Gardner.  Speakers and topics will vary between locations, and will be announced as the dates approach.  These workshops are free, but we will accept donations to offset the cost of bringing in our outstanding list of speakers.  So, please join us for this series of three fruit and vegetable gardening workshops.  Let’s start our own Victory Gardens!