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History of the Victory Garden

February 12th, 2009 · No Comments

Victory Garden Poster

Victory Garden Poster

During World War II  Americans were asked to support the troops by planting a Victory Garden.  Posters were put up everywhere, gardens were planted in backyards and vacant lots.  Americans produced 40% of their own food in their backyards.  Yes, you read that right, 40%.

Americans were encouraged to grow their own fruits and vegetables so that food prices for the troops would be lowered.  Americans responded with patriotic fever and not only were backyards plowed up but any vacant lot and some parks were subject to be hijacked for a Victory Garden.

Victory Gardening are the best known of government encouraged or supported gardening but government subsidized gardens have a long and successful history.  During an economic recession in the late 1800s, several cities subsidized “Potato Patches” in vacant lots.  The cities paid unemployed people to work growing vegetables which were given to the poor.  These gardens produced more than they cost and had the added benefit of increasing morale.

During World War I, Americans were also asked to plant Liberty Gardens.  According to Sidewalk Sprouts, an urban Agriculture website,

“President Wilson “called for ever American to contribute in the war to establish democracy and human rights.”  In a proclamation, President Woodrow Wilson said to Americans, “Everyone who creates or cultivates a garden helps…This is the time for America to correct her unpardonable fault of wastefulness and extravagance.”

Sidewalk Sprouts goes on to document several other government subsidized gardening programs.

Victory Garden Poster

Victory Garden Poster

Today, Victory gardens are making a comeback but not to support the war effort.  With the cost of food rising and story after story of tainted food across the country, Americans are being advised to Buy Local and many are choosing to grow their own.   The seed companies have caught on and some like Park Seed are offering Victory Garden seed sets.  These are easy to grow collections of common vegetables.

Will President Obama’s stimulus plan include recession gardens?  Will he put the unemployed to work not only building bridges but also feeding themselves and other needy people?

In the big picture with talk of bridges and highways, it doesn’t seem like it but then you never know how things will trickle down.  In the meantime, we will be stimulating our own economy by planting a garden that should provide for us and our extended family.

We will also be buying what we cannot produce in our own garden from local farmers and other gardeners.  The local farmer’s market provides a diverse selection of local produce.

Will you be planting a recession garden this year?

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Tags: Gardening

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