What is the Barefoot Victory Garden?
The Barefoot Victory Garden is a kind of nontraditional micro farm-esque urban community garden. Yes, those are a lot of adjectives. It is nontraditional because it is free. It is micro farm-esque because it is not divided into specific plots for each individual to grow their own food. Rather the entire garden is arranged more like a farm (if a farm had raised beds and was the size of a city lot). There are beds of tomatoes and beds of cucumbers, beds of carrots and beds of melon, and so on. It is urban because it is located in the Eastown neighborhood of Grand Rapids, MI (woot!). It is community because the entire garden is planted, weeded, maintained, and harvested as a community. You participate, you take food home.
In the winter of 2010 a few food obsessed, earth loving people, who just happened to be friends, decided that it would be a wonderful idea to start a community garden in our Eastown local. We wanted to get our hands dirty and eat beans right off the vine and we wanted everyone else to join us. Some friends own the 1350 lot of the Southeast side of Wealthy Street where a house had burned down several years ago. They very kindly decided to let us use their space to start this project. So in the summer of 2010 we began building beds and planting.
The area where the house burned down was then filled with sand. Therefore, we use raised beds filled with healthy soil (comprised of 1/2 organic compost and 1/2 filtered topsoil). We intended to follow the Square Foot Gardening method developed by Mel Bartholomew, but have strayed from his rigid steps. Nevertheless, we believe that he explains a great way to grow food in small spaces and encourage new gardeners to look into his method.
We decided we wanted the entire garden to be organic (no pesticides, no synthetic fertilizers, no herbicides, no GMO’s) because we care about the health of ourselves, of the earth and of our community.
In the middle of the garden is a community space where we share meals and ideas, hold small “how to” classes (encouraging you to bring what you learn to your own yard!) and bon fires, sing alongs, poetry readings, and art days as well. Our goal is to educate our community about food, where it comes from, how to cook it, and why some foods are better than others.
The garden exists out of care for the community, out of a desire for everyone, despite their circumstances, to have access to a garden and to organic nutritious food. It exists out of a desire to interact with people we wouldn’t normally see and meet the neighbors who live next door who we’ve never met.
BVG will grow as much as we can (so far we have a lot of vegetable seeds, check out the post “we bought seeds!”). We grow vertically when we can ( such as peas, beans, cucumbers and squash); companion planting is surely followed when possible, to naturally encourage healthy growth.
This summer we are planning on taking tours of local farms, providing cooking classes and recipes, and having a kids camp to better educate our community about good food.
Everyone is welcome to join in our effort to grow food and learn together. We encourage you to regularly attend work days if you would like to bring food home at harvest time.
Weekly Work Days (starting April 25):
Monday 5-6:30 pm
Thursday 5-6:30 pm