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"Here cometh April again; and, as far as I can see, the world hath more fools in it than ever."
– Charles Lamb, 
(1775-1834), critic and professor
  
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  Volume No. 14 Issue No. 4 April 2017  

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  Victory Gardens for the 21st century
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller is a nine-year resident of Colorado. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, moved to Falcon in 2007 and are now raising their three teenage daughters in Latigo. They enjoy their home on the prairie with plenty of room for their six adopted dogs, bagpipes & Celtic Festivals and beekeeping. Mark enjoys the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.
   

   Audrey Hepburn once said, “To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.” There is a local garden club whose mission and vision speaks to my personal belief system: God, family and country.
   
   I had the privilege to exchange ideas with Emmy McAllister, founder of the Black Forest Victory Garden Club. The club is a project of the Weston A. Price Foundation, an international nonprofit organization promoting education on how to use food to create health. Emmy is the local volunteer chapter leader.
   
   During World War II, the government rationed canned food for soldiers fighting overseas. As a patriotic gesture for the war effort, Americans were urged to grow their own produce in what became known as “Victory Gardens.” “To learn to grow food, they had to rely on one another –- for expertise, tools, labor, seeds, and land,” Emmy said.  They not only grew food, they grew relationships — they grew community. I’m all about growing community. To me, a strong America is where each of us has a commitment to take care of ourselves, our families and to contribute to the well-being of our neighbors.
   
   Emmy endeavored to strengthen the bonds of community by creating the Black Forest Victory Garden Club. She hosted the first meeting Jan. 18, 2015. Originally scheduled to take place in the Kindred Spirits Room, the meeting room in her home, there were so many responses that she had to host two meetings. After only two years, the club’s membership has grown from 110 to 322 families in the Black Forest area.
   
   The Victory Garden Club encourages all ways to grow food, but promotes the Back to Eden method. It is a spiritual and physical experience, requiring no tilling or digging; and almost no watering, weeding or fertilizing. Emmy recalled, “After watching the Back to Eden documentary (free online at htpp://BacktoEdenFilm.com), I was bursting with the belief that it could be so easy to grow copious amounts of food here, in this extremely challenging growing environment, if only we would work with God and nature instead of against them; and use a local resource that we have in great abundance –- wood chips! The method has allowed first-year vegetable gardeners here to achieve amazingly abundant harvests.”
   
   Last year, my sister-in-law, Stephanie, led 12 of our family members in transforming a dilapidated 20 x 60 foot piece of earth into a Back to Eden garden.We split a large harvest of squash, potatoes, onions, carrots, beans, peas and more. One unique aspect of the Victory Garden Club is the strong emphasis on the use of hail protectors. Without them, most families would have lost their crops several times last year.
   
   The Black Forest Victory Garden Club is a cornerstone of the ties that bind the Black Forest community. Emmy said, “So maybe, in the end, the sweetest fruits of our labors won’t be the succulent, sweet strawberries we are going to grow this year, but the serenity we found working with God and nature in our gardens; and the happiness we felt in belonging to a community of people who shared our love of growing food.”
   
   Emmy is considering a workshop on Back to Eden Gardening in April or early May. A fee of $25 per person or $35 for two from one home will cover instruction and materials. Anyone interested can contact her at 719-494-1546 or at healthsolutionsnow@earthlink.net. The next Victory Garden Club meeting is Thursday, April 27, at Black Forest Fire Station Headquarters, 11445 Teachout Road, one block east of Black Forest Road and Burgess Road. There will be two identical sessions: noon to 2 p.m. and 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., with social/marketplace time 30 minutes before and after each meeting. All meetings are free.
  
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