If you’re alive and read the news, you’re probably worried sick about the amount of terrible climate change news that seems to come out every week. Things might seem bleak, but thankfully, there’s hope! That hope comes in the form of something that’s not expensive, tedious or hard to enact. All you have to do is grow a garden.

Green America, a nonprofit promoting regenerative gardening and taking companies and corporations to task for climate change goals, enlisted Luke Cage‘s Rosario Dawson and Gangsta Gardener and “Ecolutionary” Artist Ron Finley to kick off the organization’s Climate Victory Garden campaign. As the name suggests, the campaign “encourages Americans to plant ‘regenerative’ backyard or community gardens to help combat climate change.”

Here’s more about the campaign from its press release:

“Climate Victory Gardens” were inspired by the “Victory Gardens” planted during the first and second World Wars. By 1944, nearly 20 million victory gardens produced eight million tons of food, equaling over 40 percent of the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the U.S. at the time. These victory gardens fed Americans at home, to make more farm-raised food available for the troops abroad.
Today’s Climate Victory Gardens emphasize Regenerative Agriculture practices like no-till, cover crops, and composting that help to build healthy soils. These practices can mitigate carbon emissions and even sequester carbon into the soil while growing non-toxic, nutrient-rich foods.
“Climate Victory Gardens are a great way for the 35 percent of Americans with home or community gardens to engage on the issue of climate change. With simple techniques your garden can play a meaningful part in reversing climate change,” said Rosario Dawson. “Regenerative gardening is not about being ‘sustainable,’ it’s about rebuilding and restoring the health of our soils while we grow food. It’s a different way of thinking.”
“We have communities nationwide that are food prisons that could be producing their own organic food while addressing climate change,” said Ron Finley of The Ron Finley Project. “By educating the public about regeneratively homegrown food, Climate Victory Gardens are raising awareness about one of the biggest global challenges of our time and showing Americans how they can make a difference for themselves, their households, and their communities. Soil Equals Life.”

Green America

Dawson and Finley are part of a video Green America released September of last year, which was promoted through Upworthy and nonprofit Kiss The Ground. The video details how regenerative gardening can help heal the planet, provide more food sources for families, and make your neighborhood, community, nation and world a happier place.

You’d be surprised how gardening is the solution that’s right under our nose. I have anecdotal proof; for about several months now (especially after the latest IPCC report), I’ve been on edge about the state of the world. Would we ever do what we need to do to mitigate or even reverse climate change? I’ve developed a lot of ideas about what I feel news reporters, financiers, scientists, and the average layperson could do.

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For instance: there could definitely be more focus on the solutions that are out there, which can empower people, to balance out the coverage of all the problems, which can just make people feel despondent, scared, sad, and at worst, force them into denial. I’d been wrestling with a lot of these feelings primarily because finding articles about common-sense and scientific solutions are few and far between. My theory: it’s easier to sell the negative because, unfortunately, that’s what the news media has geared themselves towards in the past few decades. If it’s negative, it’s getting the most attention. While negative news might be real, fact-based, and worth reading, news writers shouldn’t ignore the power of solutions-based journalism–journalism that investigates the problems and presents the solutions so readers can feel like they’ve really learned something instead of feeling like an atom bomb has been dropped on them and they’re left to pick up the pieces.

This rant is neither here nor there, but it’s background for my story about gardening. Throughout my inner turmoil, my parents were doing their best to calm me down. One thing both my parents said, my dad in particular, is that gardening is a great and easy solution for the planet. “I’ve probably knocked out all of our emissions just by making this garden,” my dad said at one point, gesturing to the very garden he was working in.

My dad’s vegetable garden is something he utilizes to ease his stress from work and from the everyday issues of life. His garden includes various seasonal foodstuffs–tomatoes, peaches, bell peppers, chili peppers, and okra in the spring and summer, and collard greens, carrots, and surprisingly, lemons and oranges in the fall and winter. Along with his peach tree, he also works on his pear tree, and if I’m remembering correctly, he might also have an apple tree.

My family has eaten the food from this garden for years now, and it’s just one of the many gardens my dad has made that we’ve eaten from, tended to, or enjoyed in some way. At almost every house we’ve lived at, my dad would make a garden. If it wasn’t tomatoes, it was flowers. If it wasn’t flowers, it was potatoes. If I wasn’t outside with my dad in his garden, I’d be in the house helping my mom water her many numerous indoors plants. For my entire life, I’ve been surrounded by plants in some way, shape or form. They’re almost like additional family members to me, so much so that I say “Sorry” to them if I accidentally bump into them at my parents’ house. I’ve even got designs to make my own garden, and I’ve started taking care of my first plant, an orchid.

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However, even though my entire life history has been tied up in plants, I didn’t realize how necessary gardens could be to changing the environment. In fact, I actively discounted my dad’s statement about the power of gardens. I was too ready to throw in the towel on climate change to hear exactly what he was saying.

Imagine my welcome surprise to stumble upon Green America when trying to, once again, find some solutions for climate change. I’d read about regenerative planting before, but I still wasn’t sure how big the widespread change a garden–or many gardens–could have. However, what I’ve read on Green America’s site has proved my dad absolutely right: Gardens can have the power to save the world.

How, you might be wondering: Well, the jist of it is that plants and trees can sequester carbon in the soil. If we grow gardens, we’ll be able to naturally sequester that carbon, which will not only help clean up our air and provide us with more food, but I believe it will also help the carbon issues that are hurting other areas, such as the ocean, which is, of course, suffering from carbon emissions. Everything in nature is connected, as you know.

So long story short, if you’ve got the room to make a Victory Garden for climate change, DO IT! Even if you’ve got a little windowbox garden of herbs, that’s better than nothing. Creating a garden is inexpensive and fun, and just think of the multiple boons you’ll receive from a garden: you’ll have a personal supply of fresh, pesticide-free food, support the plant and animal ecosystems around you, and you’ll have the feelings of happiness and joy from reconnecting with the earth. My dad and my family get tons of benefits from gardening, and I’m sure you will, too.

Here’s more about Green America,Kiss the Ground and The Ron Finley Project:

Green America is the nation’s leading green economy organization. Founded in 1982, Green America (formerly Co-op America) provides economic strategies and practical tools for businesses and individuals to solve today’s social and environmental problems.

Kiss the Ground, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is committed to inspiring participation in global regeneration, starting with the soil. They work with consumers, educators, farmers, scientists, and business leaders to rethink and restructure agriculture and ecosystem function. They’ve partnered with Big Picture Ranch, and Executive Producer Leonardo DiCaprio, to release the film Kiss the Ground.

The Ron Finley Project’s mission is to change the culture of South Central LA into a healthy well-balanced place to life. And to continue his Horticultural Revolution.

Green America

FURTHER READING: Heal the Soil, Cool the Climate (Green Ameria Magazine)

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