Victory Gardens

I love learning about different types of gardens and this blog is a great way for me to share what I learn. Recently, I vaguely recalled a show I thought was called Victory Garden. I was not entirely sure this show actually existed or if it was just a weird memory, so I decided to do a little internet research. low and behold, this show really did exist and is actually still on the air (now in its 36th season)! The Victory Garden is a PBS show that started in Here is a clip from 1990, around the time I remember seeing it.

After watching this episode, I realized that I really remembered the guys with the beard and suspenders, funny what your brain holds on to over the years. Although thinking about the show is what first sparked my interest in Victory Gardens, I knew there was more to Victory Gardens than a public broadcast television show. In particular, I remember hearing about them in connection to the war efforts in the first half of the 20th century. So, back I went to do more research.

It turns out that Victory Gardens have an interesting backstory. During World Wars 1 and 2, the US government, along with other governments, encouraged citizens to create Victory Gardens (aka War Gardens) to help increase the food supply. Citizens were encouraged to grow food in their own residences as well as in public parks in order to support the war effort. During World War 1, President Woodrow Wilson said, “Food will win the war.” Thus, Victory refers to these gardens’ role in aiding to win the war. Indeed, the movement to promote home and public gardens made an impact as millions of gardens were planted during World War 1.

The Victory Garden efforts resumed during World War 2. The video below was produced by the US Department of Agriculture in 1942 to educate citizens about the merits of Victory Gardens and to encourage them to plant their own. Claude Wickard, the Secretary of Agriculture at the time the video was made, proclaimed, “A Victory Garden is like a share in an airplane factory. It helps win the War and pays dividends too.” The efforts seemed to pay off with nearly 20 million victory gardens planted, included one created by Eleanor Roosevelt at the White House.

According to Wikipedia, just two public Victory Gardens from WW2 are in production, the Fenway Victory Gardens in Boston and the Dowling Community Garden in Minneapolis. Though Victory Gardens have not been actively promoted by the Government in the last few wars, I continue to believe in the benefits of home gardens. Home gardens do pay dividends and also help to educate others on the importance of the Earth. Gardening helps to highlight the complex relationships and delicate balance that exists among minerals, plants, and animals.

Garden Club Activity

Do a screening of the Victory Garden tv show and the US Victory Garden Informational Video. If you live in, or want to do a road trip to, Boston or Minneapolis take the club! Pairs well with Sam Adams or Surly beers.

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