Do You Know the History of Victory Gardens?

America was once considered an exclusively agricultural country. Nearly everyone grew their own food. That’s what you did if you wanted to eat and feed your family.

Over time, as the industrial age set it and flourished, a smaller and smaller percentage of Americans made their living by farming.

By the 1900s, Americans who had backyard gardens were becoming few and far between. Some of them grew a few crops to augment their food supply, but most were not dependent upon those gardens for sustenance.

So when World Wars I and II came around and Americans were encouraged to plant victory gardens, many of them had to learn on the go.

Reducing Food Supply Pressure

Victory gardens were also known as “war gardens” and “food gardens for defense.” They were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at homes and in public parks.

This occurred here in the United States, as well as in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and even Germany.

The goal of the governments in these countries was to reduce pressure on the public food supply. This allowed governments to send more food to their troops overseas. 

In addition, victory gardens were designed to boost citizens’ morale. Ideally people would feel empowered by their contribution of labor and be rewarded by the produce they grew.

‘Food Will Win the War’

One of the first people to promote this project was Charles Lathrop Pack. He was one of the wealthiest people in America.

In 1917, just prior to the U.S. entry into World War I, Pack organized the U.S. National War Garden Commission. He also launched the war garden campaign. 

President Woodrow Wilson declared that “Food will win the war.” Funded by the War Department, the U.S. School Garden Army was started through the Bureau of Education.

Other well-known phrases of the time included “Sow the seeds of victory.”

The word was spread by chambers of commerce, civic associations, women’s clubs and other organizations. The end result was more than 5 million gardens being grown in America. Before the end of the war, these gardens had produced more than $1.2 billion worth of food.

18 Million Victory Gardens

Much the same thing occurred during World War II. But to a greater degree. The U.S. Department of Agriculture encouraged the growth of victory gardens. 

Americans were told their gardens would help lower the price of vegetables the War Department would need to feed troops. That would allow for spending more money on weapons and other supplies. Food rationing convinced many people to get involved.

Less than a year and a half after the U.S. entered World War II, there were 18 million victory gardens in the country. Two-thirds of them were located in cities, with the remainder on farms. 

In fact, one-third of the vegetables produced in the U.S. by this time came from victory gardens. 

First Lady Digs In 

Serving as an example to other Americans, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt planted a victory garden on the White House lawn in 1943. She was hoping to spark patriotic duty.

Among the slogans Americans saw and heard during this time were “Our food is fighting” and “Grow your own, can your own.”

Then-U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Claude Wickard was quoted as saying, “A victory garden is like a share in an airplane factory. It helps win the war and it pays dividends too.”

Some inner-city locations also were devoted to victory gardens during World War II. Including in New York City’s vacant “Riverside” section and in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Few Victory Gardens Remain

We don’t hear quite as much about victory gardens these days. Although there has been renewed interest in backyard gardens during the pandemic.

But there are a couple of public examples of victory gardens remaining from the World War II era.

They are located at the Fenway Victory Gardens in the Back Bay Fens of Boston, Massachusetts. And in the Dowling Community Garden in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

In addition, gardens are being grown more often in public spaces these days. Including in city parks.

Jumpstart Your Food Independence Efforts

We may not need victory gardens to support a war effort today. But we do need them to support another effort. And that’s self-reliance.

We saw during the pandemic that the food supply chain can be disrupted. We’ve observed the same thing during and following extreme weather events. And now we’re seeing significant increases in food prices.

The best way to avoid food insecurity is to grow your own food. To do this, you could go out and search for the best tomato seeds, the best carrot seeds, the best lettuce seeds, etc. 

Or you could place one order from the comfort of your home and get a great variety of non-GMO seeds passed down from our forefathers.

And best of all, one-half of those seeds will be FREE. That’s right. For a limited time, you’ll get TWO Victory Garden Seed Vaults from 4Patriots for the price of one. 

That means between approximately 15,000 to 20,000 seeds. From five popular varieties – tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, beets and zucchini. 

That’s enough to grow thousands of lbs of fresh produce. And you can plant and harvest the seeds from your crops next year, so you never have to buy seeds again.

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Ben Doricarion - July 29, 2021

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