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The History & Resurgence of Victory Gardens

20. July 2017

2017 is the centennial of the Victory Garden. While many of us have heard this term before, some may not be overly familiar with what it really means. So let’s all take a brief history lesson on the Victory Garden. And after strolling down Memory Lane, you may find yourself longing to start your own Victory Garden. So we'll help you get started by highlighting our most popular gardening posts at the end of this article. So keep reading! 

 

One hundred years ago, the European nations were engulfed in World War I. Many farmers joined or were recruited for military service. Their produce fields then became battlefields. As a result, a dire food crisis emerged throughout Europe. Someone needed to feed the starving people, and America took up the call. In March of 1917, the National War Garden Commission was founded. It encouraged all Americans to use whatever ground was available to them to plant and harvest their own fruits and vegetables. The produce of America’s farmers was then exported to our allies in need overseas.
 

Victory Garden Dig for Plenty poster
 
The effort was a resounding success! This was in no small part thanks to the propaganda campaigns pushing civilians to “Sow the Seeds of Victory” and to be “Soldiers of the Soil”. Materials distributed by the US government offered advice to the citizenry on:
  • how, when, where, and what to grow
  • how to ward off unwanted insect infestations
  • how to preserve surplus crops through canning and/or drying 
Plant a Victory Garden poster
All these combined efforts resulted in 3 million new garden plots started in 1917. That number raised to a whopping 5.2 million by the following year. There was an estimated 1.45 million quarts of fruits and vegetables canned.
 
By the end of WWI, the Victory Garden push by the United States government died out. But it was resurrected once the country was drawn into WWII. By 1942, the US had instituted the Food Rationing Program. This gave citizens even more incentive to provide for themselves with home grown fruits and vegetables. By 1944, an estimated 8 million tons of food was produced by Americans’ home Victory Gardens. This made up more than 40% of all the fresh produce consumed in the United States. 
 
Your Victory Garden Counts more than ever poster
 

The end of WWII saw the push for Victory Gardens come to a close, once again. But in recent years there has been an uptick in the resurgence of them. The War Gardens in public parks from the early 20th century were reborn as Community Gardens. Neighbors can feel an increased sense of community and stewardship of the land. Along with this rebirth of a shared gardening experience came the resurgence of saving and sharing seeds. Seed saving maintains the best tasting heirloom produce for the dinner table. 

Print our FREE Printable Seed Saver Packets and start saving seeds today!

FREE Printable Seed Saving Packets | CanningCrafts.com
 
Today, there is an increased desire for sustainable living. People are passionate about organic agriculture and knowing where their food comes from. Saving money, emergency food preparedness, and a self-sufficiency lifestyle are more increasingly important. These goals can be met and better controlled through the “DIY, grow your own” mentality. Off to the 21st Century Victory Garden we go!
 

garden for victory canning jar label | CanningCrafts.com

Label your canned goods victoriously with our Garden for Victory canning labels

FUN FACT: In June of 1917, President Woodrow Wilson appointed Herbert Hoover to head the US Food Administration. It was tasked with managing America’s food reserves. Hoover urged the US people to produce more, consume less, and live simply. Propaganda posters for this effort read “Feed a Fighter: Eat only what you need. Waste Nothing, that he and his family may have enough.” Due in large part to Hoover’s actions, America avoided mandatory rationing during the first World War. This decrease in consumption came to be known as “Hooverizing”.

 

Waste not want not victory garden canning jar label | CanningCrafts.com

Add Waste Not Want Not canning labels to your victory garden food jars

 

Victory Garden Canning Labels | CanningCrafts.com
 

If you want to start your own Victory Garden, we have plenty of helpful resources on our blog. Read some of our most popular gardening posts to help ensure your garden is a success.

Learn how to make your own potting soil mix to save money. The right soil mix is needed to grow perfect carrots. Learn more on our blog post: Planting Carrots in Containers with Homemade Potting Soil Recipe

Planting Carrots in Containers with Homemade Potting Soil Recipe | CanningCrafts.com

 

Want to grow a bumper crop of tomatoes? Who doesn’t? You might be surprised to learn that a simple tomato staking method will produce prolific tomato plants. Learn more on our blog post: Grow Prolific Tomatoes Using Japanese Rings Method

Grow Prolific Tomatoes Using Japanese Rings Method | CanningCrafts.com

 

If you had a banner year for tomatoes, you may want to repeat your good fortune the following season. There are three methods to saving tomato seeds, but for best results, you need to know the BEST method (spoiler, it can be a little stinky)! Learn more on our blog post: How to Save Tomato Seeds

How to Save Tomato Seeds | CanningCrafts.com

 

As anyone who’s watched Back to the Future knows, banana peels make terrific fuel. So why not add them as fuel for your garden! That’s right, compost those slimy banana peels and make your little green friends happy! Learn more on our blog post: Banana Peel Fertilizers for the Garden

Banana Peel Fertilizers for the Garden

 

Think you have a brown thumb and that you can’t grow anything? Well, you’re in luck! Weeds are easy to grow, edible, and nutritious! If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em! Learn more on our blog post: Using Dandelions for Food and Medicine

Using Dandelions for Food and Medicine

 

Have you tried growing squash and failed? Did your squash plants just wither up and die one day? Chances are, it wasn’t because you forgot to water them. A loathsome and almost undetectable foe was probably the culprit. And ya know what, he's a real jerk! Learn more on our blog post: Battling the Squash Vine Borer  Battling the Squash Vine Borer

 

Want to label your Victory Garden plants in style? Make your own plant markers using coat hangers and used canning lids. Learn more on our blog post: DIY Garden Markers with Canning Lids

DIY Garden Markers with Canning Lids Tutorial

If you're interested in vintage victory garden posters and history, take a look at our Victory Garden Pinterest Board.

Victory Garden posters

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