Vintage Victory Gardens

2012-07-01

Here for you today are some vintage victory gardening posters.

WWII-era Canadian victory gardens poster

WWII-era American victory gardens poster

The British “Dig On for Victory” poster by Peter Fraser

WWI-era USA victory garden poster

WWI-era USA victory gardens poster

Oh how I wish our ‘modern’ times were as forward-thinking as these ideas promoting growing our own food. I recently read of a woman in a large city starting to grow potatoes on a long-forgotten weedy lot. With friends and family gathered to help, she painted the fence and a few tires for gardening. They filled the tires with rich soil. Then the group planted dozens of potatoes to donate the produce to the local Food Bank. Awesome! Unfortunately a city alderman living nearby shut it down. Contacted the owner of the lot, some big corporation hundreds of miles away in another province, who said no, they do not want potatoes grown on their lot. Even though they had no plans to begin developments there for at least the next year! Groan. When I look at these posters from ‘back in the day’ I get inspired that we can get back there, or more specifically – bring it back up to speed. Back to the Future! Food not Lawns!

Ok after my little rant, I’ll admit my front yard, with some huge spruce trees, is my organic native wildflower and hardy perennial garden, but my sunny backyard grows lots of food. No chickens or beehives yet though! Soon….

Here’s some info on what these victory gardens were all about…

Victory Gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at private residences and public parks in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other countries during both the World Wars in order to help reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. In addition to indirectly aiding the war effort, these gardens were also considered a “morale booster” because gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and be rewarded by the produce grown.
Although at first the Department of Agriculture objected to Eleanor Roosevelt’s institution of a victory garden on the White House grounds fearing that such a movement would hurt the food industry, they relented and soon basic information about gardening was appearing in public services booklets distributed by the Department of Agriculture, as well as by agribusiness corporations. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 20 million victory gardens were planted in the US alone. Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be over 9 million tons.
Victory gardens were planted in backyards, on apartment-building rooftops, and the occasional vacant lot “commandeered for the war effort!” and put to use as a cornfield or a squash patch. During World War II, sections of lawn were publicly plowed for plots in Hyde Park, London to publicize the movement. In New York City, the lawns around vacant “Riverside” were devoted to victory gardens, as were areas of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
Fenway Victory Gardens in the Back Bay Fens of Boston, Massachusetts and the Dowling Community Garden in Minneapolis, Minnesota, remain as the last surviving public examples from World War II. Most plots in the Fenway Victory Gardens now feature flowers instead of vegetables while the Dowling Community Garden retains its focus on vegetables.
Since the turn of the 21st century, there has been a growing interest in victory gardens. Grassroots campaigns promoting such gardens have recently sprung up in the form of new victory gardens in public spaces, victory garden websites and blogs, as well as petitions to both renew a national campaign for the victory garden and to encourage the re-establishment of a victory garden on the White House lawn. In March 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama, planted an 1,100-square-foot “Kitchen Garden” on the White House lawn, the first since Eleanor Roosevelt’s, to raise awareness about healthy food. ~Source: Wikipedia

8 responses to Vintage Victory Gardens

  1. 

    Great post, Gina. I love the fact that Michelle Obama plants a garden at the White House. I so love my own garden. In the summer, I make a point to use something from the garden every day that we cook. Sometimes, it’s just herbs, but it is a really fun way to incorporate the garden into our awareness. Hugs, Cathy

    • 

      Hello dear Cathy, I too love that Michelle Obama has restarted this important tradition. Apparently she wrote a book about it too. Thanks for sharing about bringing something from your garden into your meals daily. I try to do the same but our season is so short that I am beginning to incorporate some indoor crops like I posted about earlier. I want to try and have my own fresh greens for my family year round. Hugs, Gina

  2. 

    Thank you for starting this blog, Gina.

    My Beloved started gardening again this year. She loves gardening but was so busy for the last few years that she let it go. I’m happy for her that she is once again doing something she loves. I’m happy for me because I get to enjoy the fruits and vegetables of her labors. I’ve been enjoying freshly-picked green beans/string beans this week, and great lettuce last week.

    Russ

    • 

      Hi Russ, thanks for sharing! I am delighted to read that your dear wife has once again carved out some time for herself to enjoy gardening. She gets to enjoy the solace and fulfillment that comes from gardening, and you get to enjoy freshly grown food! Talk about a win~win situation!
      Thank you for your supportive comment, as always.
      Hugs, Gina

  3. 
    LadyBlueRose's Thoughts Into Words 2012-07-04 at 9:20 am

    I just found this and thought of your VictoryGarden post here..
    Hope you like!
    now I need to go LOLs..
    Take Care…
    )0(
    maryrose

  4. 

    If you can get your hands on this out of print book, DO. It’s a must read and SO incredibly useful for the reference library. LOTS of great color photos: “The Victory Garden The Essential Companion” (Three Volumes in One…Masters of the Victory Garden by Jim Wilson, The New Victory Garden by Bob Thompson (my favorite) and The Victory Garden Landscape Guide by Tom Wirth)

    • 

      Thank you so much for this reference! I will absolutely search out this book. Out of print never deters me! And three in One? How awesome is that. Thank you for providing names of authors as well. I truly appreciate your comment and support!