Victory gardens began in WWI with the National War Garden Commission and continued into WWII as more and more food rationing occurred in the United States. These gardens were greatly encouraged by the Department of Agriculture and especially by Eleanor Roosevelt. She insisted on having her own victory garden on the White House grounds.
The Department of Agriculture issued pamphlets and even produced a video as to how to start and keep a garden. The video features a family starting their garden from scratch after receiving a pamphlet about victory gardens. The video closes with a heavy statement of encouragement: “No work. No garden. Guess what that means? No work. No spuds. No work. No turnips. No tanks. No Flying Fortress. No victory. Bear that in mind all you victory gardeners, and work for victory!”
It wasn’t long before gardens were popping up all over America, including places like front yards, apartment rooftops, windows, community plots, and parks. Approximately 20 million or more victory gardens were planted in the United States, which helped to supply food for all Allied troops.
After the wars, the number of gardens dwindled, but recently victory gardens have regained popularity in America in order to support healthy eating. PBS produces the longest-running gardening show called The Victory Garden, which focuses on how to make the most of your garden—no matter where you live. And Michelle Obama has planted her own garden on the White House lawn (the first since Eleanor Roosevelt) to “educate children about healthful, locally grown fruit and vegetables…”
Learn more about victory gardens, and you can get started on your own or with your community.