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1943: President Roosevelt tried to shut the door on a White House ‘Victory Garden’

May 1943. Diana Hopkins planting her Victory Garden of beans, carrots, tomatoes and cabbage almost in the shadow of President Roosevelt’s study. Her garden products will probably be served on the table at the Executive Mansion. Diana’s father, Harry Hopkins was the President’s advisor. Mrs. Hopkins wears her uniform as a volunteer nurse. (AP Wire)

FDR told soil scientists “Tell her the yard is full of rocks or something. The people own this place, and don’t want it busted up just so she can plant beans.”

‘Inside the White House’
By Frank I. Weller
The Tuscaloosa News
Aug 29, 1943


Mrs. Roosevelt is a powerful presence in the presidential picture. But insiders say, FDR slaps down a lot of her ideas. This sometimes gives Eleanor quite a kick, she being a humor-loving person.

White House Skullduggery

In Depression days, Mrs. Roosevelt wanted to tip up the White House lawn for a farm garden.

FDR, they say, told soil scientists to declare White House ground too sorry even to raise an umbrella.

Mrs. R. gave up until she wanted a Victory Garden. The president is said to have called in the soil scientists again, saying something as follows:
“Tell her the yard is full of rocks or something. The people own this place, and don’t want it busted up just so she can plant beans.”

They did. She didn’t. FDR snickered down his cigaret holder.

Mrs. Roosevelt may never know unless she sees this, that White House soil, by government test, perhaps is more fertile than any other in the District of Columbia which abounds in Victory Gardens.

Mrs. Roosevelt keeps too busy to pay much attention to the horseplay at her expense. —

Garden For White House

Washington, March 22, 1943 (U.P.) – There will be a Victory Garden this summer on the White House grounds.

Mrs. Roosevelt said today that Diana Hopkins, daughter of Harry L. Hopkins would grow vegetables in one of the flower beds.

“It will be a small thing,” Mrs. Roosevelt said. “Children can grow things they are apt to want to grow in a very small space.”

‘Vegetables for Victory’ Garden for White House?

The Christian Science Monitor
Apr 6 1942

President and Mrs. Roosevelt are contemplating a “vegetable for victory” garden on the White House lawn, but they don’t want to do it if it will encourage other city dwellers to waste seed and fertilizer.

Mrs. Roosevelt said today that White House Gardeners had presented the idea of a wartime garden to her, but she has not yet decided whether it might interfere with the Department of Agriculture’s general objection of city gardens.

The White House garden would be expertly managed, and use would be made of all the vegetables raised, but there is a question whether city dwellers generally would understand the difference between the President’s garden and their own infertile back yards.

During the World War, President Wilson raised sheep on the White House lawn to help out the wool shortage. Mrs. Roosevelt said she had no plans for acquiring any sheep.

Mrs. Roosevelt discussed her garden plans at a press conference, greatly reduced in attendance at Secret Service request.