Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food
gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens
planted at private residences in the United States, Canada, and
United Kingdom during World War I and World War II to 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 civil "morale booster" � in that
gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and
rewarded by the produce grown. Making victory gardens became a
part of daily life on the home front.
Amid regular rationing of canned food in Britain, a poster
campaign ("Plant more in '44!") encouraged the planting
of Victory Gardens by nearly 20 million Americans. These gardens
produced up to 40 percent of all the vegetable produce consumed
It was emphasized to home front urbanites and suburbanites that
the produce from their gardens would help to lower the price of
vegetables needed by the US War Department to feed the troops,
thus saving money that could be spent elsewhere on the military:
"Our food is fighting," one poster read.
Basic information about gardening appeared in public services
booklets distributed by the Department of Agriculture, as well as
by agribusiness corporations such as International Harvester and
Victory gardens were planted in backyards and on
apartment-building rooftops, with 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
portions of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
In 1946, with the war over, many residents did not plant
Victory Gardens in expectation of greater produce availability.
However, shortages remained in the United Kingdom.
The Fenway Victory Gardens in the Back Bay Fens of Boston,
Massachusetts and the Dowling Community Garden in Minneapolis,
Minnesota, remain active 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.
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