Ok, so WWII is over and I wasn’t around to see it. But the idea of Victory Gardens has always been a shadow in my mind. Today the idea of government rationing things like sugar, coffee, milk, eggs, cheese and canned goods would bring about a huge up-roar and is all together unheard of. Personally I think it would give some people a little perspective on how over indulgent and spoiled we are today.
At the time there was a transportation shortage because the trucks and trains were busy moving soldiers. This made harvesting and moving vegetables about the country very difficult. To remedy the situation the government encouraged everyone to grow their own fruits and vegetables. They printed cookbooks and books teaching how to grow seedlings in different climates.
Farmers had gardens growing all along to feed their families but the rise in victory gardens got those living in town to take part as well. Community gardens were formed, coop’s developed. Window box gardens and roof top gardens were made. Vacant lots and even baseball fields were plowed and turned to gardens. Many schools planted victory gardens in the school yard to supplement school lunches. Victory gardens were noted to bring Swiss Chard and Kohlrabi to the American table because they were so easy to grow.
Those left on the home front planted victory gardens in an effort to help the war. They sure did help too! At their peak 20 million victory gardens were planted around the US. During the war the USDA estimated between 9 and 10 million tons of vegetables were grown from these gardens. By 1944 about 40 % of the vegetables consumed were grown in these gardens! People were eating locally, what was in season, and canning the harvest to stretch rations through the winters.
In 1942 66,000 pressure cookers were sold to American families; in 1943 315,000 were sold! The home canning went through the roof and allowed for more commercially canned foods to be sent to feed our soldiers.
Unfortunately, it seems we have lost some of the patriotism that once was. I still fly our flag in the front yard and stand for those serving, veterans and our anthem. I believe we need to again pull together and unite as before.
My garden (which I’ve already began planning even though this years potatoes aren’t out of the ground yet) will continue to be a Victory Garden. I know I don’t need to worry about stretching rations. Growing enough to feed my family and to bring to the local market is my way of having a little say in what I think of our modern food system. I don’t like it. I would rather support the local, home grown, farmers and ranchers rather than over grown corporations, who’s main concern is money rather than the well being of those supporting them.