Tradition dictates that for good luck and prosperity in the new year, we eat 12 grapes, one for each stroke until midnight is tolled; our first words of the first day are “rabbit, rabbit;” we take note of the first bird sighted, as it will predict the coming year; the first person to walk through our front door and all the rooms in the house should be a tall, dark-haired male; we enjoy black-eyed peas and greens for prosperity and more. All are new year traditions, but this year we can start a new one. We can begin to take control of at least a tiny part of our future by doing our part to lessen climate change.

And how do we do that? We’ve seen how nations often cannot even decide on how to approach this issue, but we also know that grassroots efforts often produce some of the best results. That’s where “we” come into the picture. Each and every one of us can make an important impact. We just want to help ensure that it is a positive one. Throughout history we have rallied by doing our part, like with the Victory Gardens of World War II, when some 20 million of them produced fruits and vegetables during a food crisis.

Today Green America ( has geared up to promote “Climate Victory Gardens” to encourage us all to do our part to lower our carbon “footprints” and lessen our impact on the planet. Certainly buying locally grown foods and products is one method. But one of the best things anyone can do is to grow more of their own food. Look at it this way: corporate agriculture gobbles up enormous resources and often includes environment-damaging chemicals. Harvesting and transporting those products hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles eats up even more precious resources.

Not only will your choice be impacting our environment, it could also improve your health. As concerns about ag chemicals increase, not to mention genetically-modified crops, more and more people are discovering that growing their own food can eliminate those concerns when best practices are employed.

While we are working those gardens, adding compost made with items that might have otherwise gone into a landfill, we are improving the soil itself. Healthier soil produces healthier food. It becomes one of those “gifts” that keeps on “giving.” A garden can be anything from an in-ground expanse or series of raised beds to a collection of large pots that can produce an amazing amount of fresh greens, herbs and vegetables — not to mention tomatoes in the summer. A few berry bushes (even grown in containers if space is an issue) and a fruit tree or two can yield delicious crops. And I have to admit, there is nothing so tasty, so convenient, as being able to walk out the door and harvest a handful of herbs and a head of leaf lettuce or several stalks of kale to whip into a true gourmet dinner.

When planning a Climate Victory Garden, don’t forget to include the flowers. Blooms not only attract beneficial insects, they also help to bring in pollinators for better crop yields. Get the free “Bee Smart” app, which gives you a comprehensive guide to selecting plants for pollinators specific to this area. You’ll not only be helping your own garden, but you will be helping to create a better environment tor essential insect pollinators. (

Americans were encouraged to do their part during World War II to ease food shortages and free up supplies for the troops by planting Victory Gardens. Eventually some 20 million of those gardens produced an estimated 8 million tons of food. With climate change bearing down upon us, we can do our part by taking up this challenge once again. Globally, agriculture accounts for 11 percent of greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans, according to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

Green America has created a “Climate Victory Garden” map to pinpoint these gardens across the country, and hundreds are already listed. Now you can add your garden to the list. ( and what better way to start a new year than to pledge to make our world a better one.

Here’s wishing you and yours a happy, health and prosperous new year — and one filled with a bounty of fresh food, berries and fruits you’ve grown yourself.