The Berks History Center is pleased to announce that its “Berks History for Victory” project has grown thanks to $1330 in support from The Friends of Reading Hospital. Launched on April 13, 2020, Berks History Center’s “Berks History for Victory” campaign aims to promote community food security through the revitalization of historic victory gardening in Berks County.
First initiated as an educational campaign and digital storytelling project on the Berks History Center’s website and social media platforms, “Berks History for Victory” will take root in the City of Reading with the installation of a demonstration victory garden at the Berks History Center. In addition to building a “living exhibit” on the grounds of the BHC museum, funds from The Friends of Reading Hospital will also supply city residents with Victory Garden “Kick-Start Kits,” which include vegetable starts and bilingual educational pamphlets that share the history behind victory gardening as well as practical information for starting a vegetable garden at home.
Weather permitting, the BHC staff will break ground on Friday, May 1, 2020, installing the new demonstration victory garden on the lawn of the BHC museum. In the case of rain, the garden will be installed the following week. Updates and the installation process will be documented and shared on social media. The BHC invites the community to follow along @berkshistory on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
City residents interested in kick-starting their own victory garden at home can pre-register online for a “Berks History for Victory Kick-Start Kit.” Supplies are limited and kits will be reserved on a first come, first served basis. The kits include vegetable starts as well as bilingual educational pamphlets. Soil for container gardens will be available on site but are not included in the kit. The BHC encourages registrants to bring their own containers, anything from coffee cans and 5 gallon buckets to traditional gardening pots to fill (self-serve) for their home container gardens at the time of the pick-up.
Online registration opens on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 and reserved kick-start kits will be available for pick-up at the Berks History Center on Monday, May 11, 2020. Two pick-up methods will be available to ensure safe social distancing: Walk-up registrations will be distributed at the BHC museum at the corner of Spring and 2nd Streets, and a drive-through pick-ups will be available the same day in the BHC parking lot, located at 160 Spring Street.
For more information and to register visit berkshistory.org/berks-history-for-victory/
The “Berks History for Victory” initiative has grown in collaboration with Reading’s Victory Garden Task Force and a growing number of community partnerships. The task force’s “Cultivating Community” victory garden project, led by Councilwoman, Lucine Sihelnik, will distribute complete container gardens to District 1 on Monday, May 11, 2020, the same day as the “Berks History for Victory” kick-start kit giveaway.
The Berks History Center has also partnered with the Reading Public Library to increase accessibility to information about home food production and the history of victory gardening in America. Through its Overdrive platform, the Reading Public Library has compiled a unique selection of digital books that can be accessed online by digital library card holders: https://bit.ly/BH4VGardenBooks To request a digital library card visit https://bit.ly/GetCardedToday
Muhlenberg Greene Architects, Ltd. (MGA) have also joined the movement to promote historic victory gardening for food security in Berks County. On their 100th Anniversary this year, MGA’s experienced architects will be putting together a set of plans for raised garden bed planters, which they will distribute to the public along with a series of “throwback” social media posts, sharing historic garden designs from some of the community’s most popular built residences built by MGA.
Other partnerships in the county-wide victory gardening initiative include: the City of Reading, DS Smith, Reading’s Environmental Advisory Council, Berks Nature, the Berks Conservation District, Penn State Cooperative Extension and the Berks County Master Gardeners.
Home gardeners and institutions alike are welcome to join the movement by sharing resources and stories on the “Berks Victory Gardeners” Facebook page and follow along on Instagram @BerksVictoryGardens Further collaborations are expected to grow, as the Berks Victory Gardeners invite all citizens, community organizations, and businesses to get behind the revitalization of historic home food gardening.
First promoted during WWI and again during WWII, Americans were encouraged to support the war effort and produce their own food by planting vegetable gardens in their backyards, churchyards, city parks, and playgrounds. Today, the BHC is seeking to revitalize this historic practice in order to build community and increase food security in Berks County.
The BHC invites families in Reading and Berks County to join them in their campaign to promote food security during the COVID-19 pandemic by learning about the history of victory gardens and growing their own gardens at home, wherever possible.