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Victory Garden Resurgence


When we started City Farmer in 1978, our staff spent a good deal of time researching wartime gardens. The term “Victory Gardens” is making a comeback as you can see in this April 12th, San Francisco Chronicle article, Bring Back the WWII-era Victory Garden.

The US World War II film embedded above (20 minutes long), a favourite of ours, shows us how people were encouraged to grow food by their governments – - the US, Canada and Britain all promoted Victory Gardens.

“The Holder family in Maryland lays out a quarter acre Victory Garden during World War II. Most of the gardening work is done by Grandpa Holder and his teenage grandchildren Rick and Amy and from the looks of the film, it is backbreaking work. There is the garden of peppers, tomatoes, pole beans, potatoes, asparagus and sweet corn. Then, there is the late garden with beets, squash, late potatoes, late cabbage, kale, collard greens and three rows of turnips.

“To save gasoline, they use a horse and plow and humble farm implements. It is anything but organic. We see every kind of pest, worm and disease that can affect the garden. Rick sprays various noxious looking chemicals on the vegetables without wearing a face mask or gloves.

“A victory garden is like a share in an airplane factory, the film opening tells us. It is also a vitamin factory that will keep Americans strong. The film ends on a patriotic note, ‘No Work, No Victory!’ Bear that in mind all you Victory Gardeners and Work! For Victory! A no-nonsense, non-idealized look at what it is like to have to really grow your own food.”

We’ve been linking to Victory Garden stories on Urban Agriculture Notes for many years. Here are some interesting stories that we’ve covered.

British Pathe News Reels Show Historic War Garden Programs.

A brief search found the following eight unique film clips from both the First and Second World wars showing government policy supporting home food gardens in “Dig For Victory” film strips. You have to see the clip of the chimpanzee dressed in clothes using tools to dig in his vegetable patch, or the children digging in allotments in amongst bombed out buildings after the Blitz in London. Then there are the costumed British actors advising people to prepare their winter gardens and still another film of school children watering gardens during WW1 dressed in outfits from fashion long gone, – unbelievable!

1 comment

1 sleve76 { 07.24.08 at 1:21 pm }

Here is a petition to urge our country’s next leadership to encourage the return of the Victory Garden:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/letsbringbackthevictorygarden/index.html