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Local woman launches Web site to help you grow your own food
Eve Sibley is disturbed by the fact that in the United States the average meal travels 1,500 miles before it arrives at a dinner table. “It’s a lot of gas and oil dependence,” said Sibley, adding that during World War I and World War II, 40 percent of American produce was grown in small home gardens. “It’s a common bond that we all have, the need to eat. Food gardening is a way to unify people across cultural lines and relate to the Earth. The Internet is just so incredible in that we have this capacity.”Taking advantage of the vast reaches of cyberspace, Sibley and her Lady’s Island-based organization, World Food Garden, recently launched worldfoodgarden.org. The site encourages people around the world to start their own vegetable gardens and seeks to promote a modern Victory garden movement.
Victory gardens, also known as war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens located at people’s homes in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom during World War I and World War II. The gardens were intended to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort.
“The main spirit of the site is to unite people back to the idea of knowing where their food comes from,” said Sibley, 32. “Right now, in conventional farming, six pounds of soil is lost for every one pound of food that’s grown. People say that we’re in a time of peak oil, but apparently, we’re also in a time of peak soil, which is kind of a scary thought.”
A native of Atlanta, Sibley lived in New York City for nine years before relocating to St. Helena Island in May. She said that one of the reasons she chose to live on St. Helena is because she believes it is one of the most historically important places in America.
“I grew up in Georgetown in the summertime,” said Sibley. “I love the Lowcountry. I’ve always loved it, and Beaufort is the most creative, interesting, diverse part of the Lowcountry, so I came here. I had the idea of the Web site in mind for a while, but it wasn’t until I got here that I really started pushing it.”
After Sibley bought a piece of land on St. Helena, she built a treehouse and decided to move in during the summer. She said that she “basically lived out of a bag” for several months while volunteering for the Barack Obama campaign, and it was this experience that showed her she didn’t need much to live on, which led her to the treehouse. Sibley is currently studying biointensive growing methods.
“It’s basically where you grown your own soil,” she explained. “Sixty percent of your garden is dedicated to compost and carbon crops that go back into the soil. This summer, I had some melons, eggplant, tomatoes, basil, squash and beans, all the basics. I would like to get into rice. That would be interesting.”
Sibley currently has a small staff helping out with the site, and starting at the end of the month, 17-year-old Beaufort resident Maggie McEachern will help Sibley on the site’s outreach campaign. Sibley said that McEachern has outreach experience because she left Beaufort almost a year ago to home school herself on the road while she worked as a full-time staffer on the Obama campaign.
The seeds of self-sustaining gardening were planted in Sibley at an early age. Her late grandfather owned a farm in north Georgia, which the family still operates. She lived there briefly after leaving New York.
“My grandfather used to grow vegetables when I was little,” said Sibley. “My dad raises grass-fed beef out there.”
Worldfoodgarden.org offers tips on gardening in certain climates, soil preparation and seeds, as well as a plant guide and glossary. In addition, the site features a World Food
Garden map, where individuals and groups can create profiles, network and trace the impact of their efforts. The map provides links to gardens as far away as Australia and Antarctica.