Dig For Victory

One of my readers, Jessie had this to say about the Peter Cundall post;

“He’s my hero too!
I too think the carbon tax is a good thing. And for those that complain about increased prices on things because the tax is applicable need to work out how to do without carbon causing things. Grow/raise your own, reduce reuse recycle and repurpose or do without. During WWII we faced rationing. If this is the environmental war then maybe we should be rationed on un-eco friendly things.”

I totally agree. If this is a war for the survival of all the other creatures of the earth, then we need to minimise our ecological footprint. A war for the environment, not against it.

We need to Dig for Victory to help win this war. One of the largest components of this ecological footprint is the production, harvest, transportation, and storage of food. Instead of covering our arable land with swathes of suburbia, we need to grow more of our food in the urban areas. Yes, this is what we need to do. This will only serve us well in the future. Let me explain.

Pipe dreams of a northern food bowl and the prospect of becoming the food bowl for Asia are just that. Pipe dreams. Without a reliable and healthy river systems, there is no food bowl.

As climate weirding continues unabated due to our lack of action, our monoculture industrial agricultural system will suffer even more hardship. Some current examples are the flooding rain in the UK, and the heatwave and crop losses in the US. Experts are predicting that both of these climate events will limit global food stocks this season.

Additionally, as we reach peak phosphate and peak oil, this system of agriculture will not deliver the surpluses as it has done so in the past.

Urban/Suburban agriculture using organic methods will be the only way to avoid shortages or rationing, and thereby enabling families to put meals on the table.

So, wouldn’t it be the sensible thing to do to begin to learn how to grow your own food, and plant a few fruit trees in your yard, even if only in pots? Logic would have it that it would be prudent to learn these skills sooner, rather than later.

Lets look to the past for similar resource shortages. A good example to model this type of action can be found during World War II.

The Australian War Memorial Encyclopaedia states;

“During 1942 food shortages began to have an impact on the Australian home front. The agricultural industry was struggling with massive labour shortages, a severe and prolonged drought, and major shortfalls in imports of seed stock and fertiliser. There was a growing realisation that unless agriculture became a focus of the war effort, food shortages would be imminent. 

Many Australians were already keen home vegetable gardeners, being self-sufficient, with fruit and vegetables and a “chook shed” down the back. Others took to the idea afresh and turned over their whole front and back gardens to vegetable production, often selling excess produce to raise funds for the front. Some people formed neighbourhood gardening groups as a means of feeding their families. Others formed gardening collectives, specifically to raise funds for the war effort. 

As the fear of invasion dissipated towards the end of 1943 food production became more of a national priority. Even though improvements were made in the agricultural sector to meet the demands of war, home gardening continued to raise funds and morale, and feed local communities and families, throughout the war.”

If it worked for the allied countries in WWII, then why can it work for us now?  Why can’t we have a Ministry of Food now to kick start things off?  Just because it looks like we have abundance now, it doesn’t necessary mean we will continue to be able to purchase our hearts desires down at the supermarket in the very near future.

Maybe we shouldn’t relay on Federal governments to come to our rescue, and should help ourselves.  I don’t know what may occur as things begin to progress, but the signs of economic depression, and resource scarcity are blatantly obvious to those who can read these signs.  Local actions are those that will be most effective when TSHTF.

I am not trying to be alarmist, only cautionary, because I know how long this skill takes to master before you can grow enough food to supplement purchased or at the worst, rationed nutrition.

So dear reader, if you haven’t already done so, I would urge you to begin to learn the basic skill of growing your own food.  It doesn’t have to be in your backyard, it can be in a community garden, or with a local gardening group that focuses on backyard food production.  You will only learn if you get involved now.  Learning this skill takes time, and it no good trying to learn it on the fly as you will be well short of time by then.  

One more request.  If you do grow your own fruit, veg, and/or livestock, then get involved with community groups that help teach others.  We need teachers just as much as we need people to learn.  

So what are you waiting for?  Get digging for victory.  We have on our urban farm, and we don’t regret it for a minute!
P.S.  Your own appraisal of the current food situation is welcomed via comment.  


  1. says

    Thanks for all of your wonderful comments. Dig for Victory is only one way we can all get involved in making our communities more resilient.

    Gav x

  2. says

    Ministry of Food, yes! It reminds me of Paul Gilding’s repeated comments in The Great Disruption about the war-time rhetoric he expects will get started sometime this decade to start people really working towards preventing (reducing anyway) climate change.

    I hadn’t thought of it in terms of the Dig for Victory campaign (which I read about somewhere else recently too – it seems to be part of the current zeitgeist, which can only be good), but it makes perfect sense.

  3. carbon credits investments says

    All you need to do it look at the news of the massive drought in the US and the resulting sky high price of corn and wheat.

  4. says

    Gavin, this is a great post.

    By happy coincidence a couple of postcards of wartime posters arrived from my UK-based sister in the last week. One was for knitting patterns for “Home Front Woollies” and the other was the very poster displayed in your second photo!

  5. says

    Great Video!

    “A 10 Rod plot will feed a family of 5 for 8 months of the year”, in England!!!

    Confusingly, 10 Rods could mean either
    2.5 Acres (approx. 10,000 square metres) or
    1/16 Acre (approx. 253 square metres)

    I’m guessing it is the second one. which would be about half the backyard of an older style 1/4 acre block.

    In Australia with our milder climates it’s even better. And then you can use permaculture techniques and do even better again!

    I know my grandparents pretty much fed a family of 12 kids in a garden about twice this size that included a rather large chook run.

    It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen!

  6. says

    How can I argue with that? In fact, how can anyone argue with that? What upsets me about the new housing estates, is they have a ‘nice’ lake or some such, and they leave a few old trees, but the houses are squeezed onto tiny blocks. I know people have to live somewhere, but wouldn’t it be great to see truly green estates. You could have a range of housing to suit singles, couples and families…and have it quite dense, but with shared garden space around…for food. This would also aid people’s connectedness and grow community. You could have all the bells and whistles too…passive solar design, solar and wind power, tanks, environmental grey water treatment. Tools could be shared. If you went away, neighbours would tend the garden. You could even have a couple of cows/goats and share the work, and the milk. Likewise, you could go bigger with the chooks and everyone could take a turn feeding them etc. and everyone share the eggs. ‘Tell her, she’s dreamin!’

  7. says

    I have to say this has been on my mind a lot too. My Grandparents lived in London during WW2 and both were evacuated for periods. My Grandparents always have lived a very frugal life and my Grandfather believed in everything had a use and recycled things many years before it was the done thing. He would use al sorts of things to repurpose tools and make just the thing he wanted. He passed away last year with much of his knowledge and I am only realizing how much he had. I am trying to convince my Grandmother to write what she remembers down as the ration (or parts of the) system was in place until 1953. I don’t know if you know but Jane Fearnley-Whittingstall, Hugh of River Cottage mother has written an account and info guide to living on rationing and I am currently awaiting a copy.

    Outside the Magic Square by Lolo Houbein has just been published and builds on from her previous gardening book, One Magic Square. The information is really interesting that she presents and gives a huge list of further reading. I loved reading this book and between her books and the Simple Green Frugal Co-op and Greening of Gavin we have been setting up a back garden to produce a good deal of our food. We also intend to move in the next year but as a relative will move in we will be able to share the produce. My son in now 2 and enjoys watering and digging holes and hopefully he will learn that food comes from the garden and it is delicious. It will give him the skills to provide food for his table in the future if need be. I have really only just started the journey but small steps can create big changes.

  8. says

    I cannot wait until we move. That is when I too will begin to practice what I preach and I am planning a life changing vegetable garden and orchard, large scale chicken raising of a heritage breed for both eggs and meat and in the future, if I can maintain all that, an aquaponics setup! That will have us fully self sustaining for fruit, vegs and white meat with only red meat to be sourced (kangaroo anyone?). Until then, trying to source in season produce in bulk to can and preserve for a rainy day and planning planning planning.

    I wonder how people who are buying these sought after, overpriced town houses that are 3 squeezed on to less than a quarter acre (building 3 right behind us and 3 to soon be built beside us). The garden, if you can call it that, is around 2 or 3x maybe 6 of concrete decking, mostly under cover or the maybe 4x6m of what will probably be astro-turf, 1 small and probably inappropriate tree and mulch (so the mulch isn’t so bad). There really is no room to grow a garden, well, not enough to feed a family on.

    In lieu of our pending move, we are on the “let’s empty the pantry and freezers and not buy anything else” rationing. It’s starting to get very interesting now I can say. Makes me wonder just how tough it will get when peak oil hits.

  9. Danielle says

    Nice post, Gav. One of the major issues your post alludes to is that of virtual water. Its absolute madness for the driest continent on Earth (Australia) to plan to grow food with our limited water supply and then sell that food overseas. Each tonne of product that goes offshore (eg rice, wine, beef) takes with it tonnes of water used in its production. For a fair idea idea of how this pans out in a few short years, take a look at Africa, which is being exploited by China and parts of Europe to grow food and cut flowers. 20 million people are affected by hunger in NW Africa. The only real solution is backyard and community food production. Silly thing is, Asia already gets this. Its just us Aussies, so desperate for a quick buck that we’d put a quarry on our grandmother’s grave, who can’t see it.

    OK, off to practice what I preach and plant some beetroot. The soapbox is free…..

  10. Tracey says

    Couldn’t agree more Gavin. And here in Melbourne we’re lucky not to have to deal with stupid covenants and municipal laws (that I know of – maybe I’m violating them in ignorance!) regarding how gardens can look. There is a couple in Quebec who are currently fighting their city to keep their beautiful front yard potager.


    In urban settings sometimes the front yard is the most suitable space to grow food crops. Governments need to get on board with that and people need to expand their notions of beauty in a garden.

  11. Kathy P. says

    Here in the US, an awful lot of the angst is over what is sure to be an abysmal corn crop. This will drive up the price of milk ’cause dairy cows eat corn (though they shouldn’t); meat, ’cause CAFO cattle eat corn (though they shouldn’t), and my personal favorite: junk food, ’cause the price of high-fructose corn syrup is expected to go through the roof.

    Then of course, we’ve been making car fuel from food for years now (corn ethanol) even though that’s just about the stupidest idea ever, so things are gonna get rough for a lot of people who still don’t “get it”. And of course, there’s still no national conversation about what’s at the root of all this: peak oil and climate change. Nope, can’t even bring that up.

    Don’t worry folks, nothin’ to see here. Go back to watching Dancing with the Stars and guessing who’s gonna get kicked off the island. (Sigh.) Everything’s fine…

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