For the past five years, One Vegetable, One Community (OVOC) has been choosing a vegetable of the year. This year, the Polk County Wellness Coalition, University of Minnesota Extension SNAP-Ed, and Statewide Health Improvement Partnership (SHIPS) ask Polk County residents to share seeds, plant a row or two for neighbors, friends, and family, and grow your own in the ‘Victory Garden’ movement!

Victory gardens were vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens planted during World War I and World War II for individuals to provide their own food. As a growing county-wide initiative, OVOC encourages all county communities to participate in the mission to increase access to healthy foods, grow excitement about gardening, build relationships, enhance community, connect with others, and instill hope beyond the pandemic.

While the mission has always been important, this year your garden is more important than ever! Our social, mental, and physical health and well-being is more important than ever. Gardening, getting outside, and connecting with community are all great ways to boost our mood, improve our health, and decrease stress, anxiety, and depression. 

Now is the time to get your garden started and there are many vegetables and flowers that can be directly sown into the soil. Start by sharing seeds with neighbors or planting an extra grow for friends and family so that in the months to come, there will be plenty of fresh produce and flowers for our communities. Let’s connect, plant, grow, cook and share together through gardening! What one vegetable will you choose this year?!

Proper handwashing and social etiquette remain important in your growing endeavors. If you are interested more in this program, please contact Megan Hruby at the University of Minnesota Extension SNAP-Ed or Amanda Lien at Polk County Public Health/SHIP.