In the coming month and for much of this year, and most likely for the next years, we will be dealing with the Covid19 pandemic. Sadly long periods of quarantines, economic downturn, decline of world trade, and mass unemployment around the world, leading to cases of extreme poverty will become the norm. Whilst there is little that can be done to immediately reverse the effects of Covid19, proactivity and resoluteness is essential. Local crisis management needs to be prepared, carefully planned and proactive.

In times of world wars, or extreme economic crises, governments of the time did everything they could to promote individual self-sufficiency. They created urban gardens, urban farms, and made it possible for their citizens to produce a lot of the foods they needed to survive. The crisis we face today again necessitates these actions, but this time on an even grander scale.

What can governmental and municipal bodies do?

  • Areas suitable for small-scale agricultural production should be surveyed immediately and conditions for access should be created without delay both in the cities and in the countryside.
  • Revitalize old disused backyards for small agricultural purposes. This has proved to very successful in the past. Subsistence agriculture is a way of life for millions of people around the world, and at times of crisis has also provided for thousands of families in the developed world, whilst freeing up state resources during these critical times.
  • Encourage people who have gardens, to utilize that for agriculture. Those who have uncultivated areas in their gardens should invite others to cultivate those areas.
  • Public workers and the unemployed should be redirected to local food production.
  • The issue of cultivation, preservation, storage and distribution needs to be addressed locally.
  • Resources are needed to expand public catering. Much more resources will be needed by the state or local governments to provide for a single hot meal a day than any time during the past 75 years.
  • Laws must be strictly enforced to prevent crop theft, vandalism.
  • Provide adequate quantities of seeds and seedlings, even free distribution to those willing to produce locally. Effective backyard management, plant protection and preservation needs to be taught again, as the knowledge of these have disappeared over the past generations.
  • Covid19 has bought about an unprecedented change to the world we lived in just a few month ago. The long-term effect of it will be profound. It is fair to say that life for millions of people around the world will be changed forever. Every aspect of a garden, from subsistence agriculture to beauty and tranquility can and will provide an essential part of surviving these difficult times for many people around the world.

It’s spring, it’s time to plant!

Gabor Rosta – Urban Garden Association, Hungary


Soupline – The Great Depression 1929-32

World’s highest standard of living, USA 1929-32

Soupline – The Great Depression 1929-32

Soupline – The Great Depression 1929-32

WW 2 – Victory Garden Poster

WW 2 – Victory Garden Poster

WW 2 – Victory Garden Poster

WW 2 – Victory Garden Poster

England, WW2 – Seed stock, free from the state

Passon Field Victory Gardens 1943, USA

WW 2 – Bomb Crater Garden, England

WW 2, School garden on the roof. New York City, USA

WW2 – Victory garden, New York City, USA

WW2 – Victory Garden Chicago, USA

01 Jun 1946, Berlin, Germany — Ploughed up by British engineers and turned over to Berliners to raise vegetables, this area in front of the Reichstag in Berlin is shared by many families who hope to raise enough food to fend off starvation. One of the problems after potato planting is to keep thieves from stealing the seed potatoes out of the ground. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Yes, I can! WW2 poster

WW 2 – Jefferson County Community Cannery, USA

WW 2 – Döbrentei squeer, war garden in Budapest, Hungary 1942

See also: Operational suggestions for community gardens for the duration of the epidemic