Victory Gardens ProjectBy Herman Bell

The Victory Gardens Project (VGP) was an eight-year-long grassroots enterprise located in Central Maine. Its primary goal was to effect radical social change and economic independence through food production. VGP reached out to disenfranchised people in both urban and rural communities to help them develop their own source of wholesome organic food. VGP provided an opportunity for both urban and local volunteers to have hands-on experience with organic gardening in a unique rural setting. This collaboration for social and environmental change through growing food together is what is called the urban/rural connection. While teaching farming and food skills through living on and working the land, the VGP tried to create a political consciousness that would ultimately lead to the restoration of our natural lands and community self-sufficiency. Education, hands-on experience, and sharing of resources were the mainstays of the VGP. VGP organizers and volunteers shared their land, skills, labor, and educational resources with people of all ages and backgrounds from both urban and rural communities to claim the gardens they worked in as their own, fully participating in the planting, tending, harvesting, and distributing of organic produce to their communities.

The VGP was created jointly by local Mainers Carol Dove and Michael Vernon, and U.S. political prisoner and former Black Panther Party member Herman Bell, who believe that the class struggle and poverty in rural Maine as well as urban areas is in large part due to unconscionable corporate/government control, and that people can begin to reverse this social devolution by creating self-sufficiency through food production. Herman Bell played a vital role in outreach to both urban and rural activists, as well as writing annual updates to bring communities together and to help with fundraising for the ongoing work of the project. Over the course of the project, over 30 tons of organic produce was distributed by the project volunteers, free, to urban and rural communities in the Northeast.

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