Food is Free Tacoma
Food Independence Gardens (FIGs)
Food Independence Gardens are streetside gardens, built and maintained by volunteer Garden Stewards with the help of Food is Free Washington Staff and Volunteers!
“Grow your own, can your own.”
That was the slogan of the last century to inspire communal food independence. Food independence was important with food rationing and shortages, and Victory Gardens, also called “war gardens” or “food gardens for defense”, were gardens planted both at private residences and on public land during World War I and World War II to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. The fragility of our food supply chain has been demonstrated and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Coupled with natural disasters and transportation delays, recovery has been even more difficult. Most Americans only have a few days of food in their cupboards that they know how to prepare. At the beginning of the pandemic we saw empty store shelves and warehouses unable to fulfill orders to restock them. Disruptions like that affect people who are food insecure much more seriously than those who are not. We can help stabilize our food chain by planting vegetable gardens just like our great grandparents did.
We call them “Food Independence Gardens” (FIGs)
What is a Food Independence Garden? It’s one of the ways Food Is Free Washington helps our community build our own food security. A Food Independence Garden can be anything from a container on a balcony to a full-scale urban farm and everything in between. As of January 31, 2022, FIFW has built 52 raised bed FIG gardens in streetside public areas and parking strips all over town. One of the difficulties in growing food in an urban setting is finding a piece of land large enough to grow enough food to feed a large number of people. Our solution to this problem is what we call “atomized farming”. We are using a lot of the standard farm practices like mono-cropping and crop rotation and incorporating them into our raised bed gardens all over the city. Instead of having one farm in one location, we have 52 gardens all over the city of Tacoma. The property owner or tenants (garden stewards) help to maintain the gardens, and our staff collects and distributes the harvest.
The Harvest from FIGs is Shared
We share 20% of the crop with our garden stewards and share the remaining 80% at our FIG share events in the spring and summer months. We host our FIG share events at local parks with a focus in areas that are known food deserts. This year we are adding 4 more parks in addition to the parks that we shared at last year. These additional parks will be on a new day and time so that people can find a time that works for their schedules.