Victory Gardens (War Gardens) were created and encouraged during WWI and WWII to reduce the demand on food supplies. Civilians were encouraged to plants their own vegetable gardens, in what little land they had, so that produce and rations could be sent to the troops overseas. Across the United States and Europe, young men who had been farming before the wars were recruited into battle and left commercial farms struggling to keep up with demand.
Another reason for food shortages during WWII was the forced interment of Japanese-American farmers. These farmers were responsible for 40% of the vegetables grown in California at the time. Nearly 200,000 acres of farmland were transferred to European immigrants and Americans from the Dust Bowl region — who were not as familiar with California’s climate, and so their production fell.
In WWII, 20 million Americans planted Victory Gardens, and produced 40% of all the vegetable produce being consumed nationally.
Nowadays, Victory Gardens are being planted for completely different reasons:
- Control of pesticides/fertilizers
- Economy (seeds and elbow grease are a lot cheaper than organic produce at the store)
- Self Sufficiency
Awhile ago I found this adorable pamphlet from, I believe, the USDA. Please click below for the free PDF.
I also found this nostalgic video from England encouraging Victory Gardens across the pond:
- The Victory Garden of Tomorrow: Produce Propaganda for the Modern Era (sierraclub.typepad.com)
- Victory Gardens past and future (with Lamanda Joy) (resilience.org)
- Green Gifts for the Urban Gardener (gizmodo.com)
- PBS TV: A Victory Garden In Your Front Lawn (nextworldtv.com)