Growing up on a hill overlooking North Omaha during World War II, Mary Carpenter remembers the numerous vegetable plots, called Victory Gardens, that dotted her Florence neighborhood.
“Everybody had one,” said Carpenter, the reporter’s mother-in-law. “We grew everything – asparagus, potatoes, tomatoes, black raspberries, pears, even grapes. That’s what fed us and supplemented our food.”
Over the ensuing decades, many of those gardens disappeared as grocery stores started carrying seasonal produce year round. Yet 80 years later, everything old is new again.
Drive anywhere in the Omaha metro – West, North, South O, Midtown – and you’ll see a community garden or an urban farm.
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Through the leaves and the debris, lies an area of meek land, ready to be improved.
“We are making sure that it is dignified for people living in communities, but it’s also a place that our Nebraska wildlife can cohabitate with us, even in the city,” Gus Von Roenn said.
At 33rd and Patrick is one of many pieces of land that Omaha Permaculture made viable again.
“We’ve touched maybe over 17 different vacant properties and try to improve them in different phases of becoming either a community garden, or a pocket park, or just a green space so people can enjoy it,” Von Roenn said.
Von Roenn is the founder of Omaha Permaculture, who said permaculture changes the way we interact with our surroundings.