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Category — History

1943: Vice-President Henry Wallace’s Victory Garden

Rare film outtakes. Various scenes Wallace working around corn and tomatoes. Link to film here.

Henry A. Wallace was editor of Wallaces’ Farmer and Iowa Homestead until he was selected as Secretary of Agriculture by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933.

33rd Vice President of the United States under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, In office January 20, 1941 – January 20, 1945

Excerpts from The Wallace Centers of Iowa, sustainable food & civility initiatives and Henry A. Wallace – An Authentic American Dreamer

At the turn of the 20th century, corn shows were at the height of popularity, and judging criteria stressed physical uniformity of ear and kernel type. In 1903, Henry A. participated in a corn judging short course, and when he questioned the value of the “beauty contest” in predicting the yield, the instructor encouraged him to plant each of the 40 ears on an ear-to-row basis the next season and compare yields.

Wallace grew his first experimental plot while still a high school student and found that the ear which had placed first in the show yielded among the poorest. He chose some of the best-yielding seed and sold 10 bushels for $10 per bushel. This was the start of his life-long involvement with the improvement of corn through genetic selection.

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December 13, 2017   No Comments

A growing number of young Americans are leaving desk jobs to farm

Liz Whitehurst picks greens at Owl’s Nest Farm in Upper Marlboro, Md., on Nov. 9. Whitehurst is the owner and operator of the farm, which sells its produce at a D.C.-area farmers market, to restaurants and through CSA shares. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

For only the second time in the last century, the number of farmers under 35 years old is increasing, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest Census of Agriculture. Sixty-nine percent of the surveyed young farmers had college degrees — significantly higher than the general population.

By Caitlin Dewey
Washington Post
November 23, 2017

Liz Whitehurst dabbled in several careers before she ended up here, crating fistfuls of fresh-cut arugula in the early-November chill.

The hours were better at her nonprofit jobs. So were the benefits. But two years ago, the 32-year-old Whitehurst — who graduated from a liberal arts college and grew up in the Chicago suburbs — abandoned Washington for this three-acre farm in Upper Marlboro, Md.

She joined a growing movement of highly educated, ex-urban, first-time farmers who are capitalizing on booming consumer demand for local and sustainable foods and who, experts say, could have a broad impact on the food system.

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November 24, 2017   Comments Off on A growing number of young Americans are leaving desk jobs to farm

1974, San Francisco’s ‘The Farm’ – Part of The History of Urban Agriculture

Work party at The Farm, c. 1975. Also must see: The Farm (documentary) 47 minutes
by Mike Kavanaugh, MaryEllen Churchill, and Kathy Katz

In SF, art still thrives and celebrates its history at The Farm

By Laura Wenus
Mission Local
November 9, 2017
(Must see. Mike)


Joan Holden, director of the San Francisco Mime Troupe at the time, remembered The Farm in its early days in a documentary collecting memories of The Farm.

“It was this little spot of nature, this little eruption of nature in the middle of the concrete jungle, proving that life could still exist there,” she said at the time.

It drew the attention of some of the Mission’s now best-known artists, including René Yañez, and Dogpaw Carrillo among others.

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November 15, 2017   Comments Off on 1974, San Francisco’s ‘The Farm’ – Part of The History of Urban Agriculture

Slave garden at Smithfield, Virginia cultivates deeper understanding of early colonial times

An interpretive slave garden has been added to the grounds at Historic Smithfield, expanding the plantation’s story of 18th century life on the Virginia frontier. Photo courtesy of Historic Smithfield Plantation.

Some of the plants originally introduced by slaves brought to the Colonies include yams, okra, melons, sorghum and cow peas, as well as other lesser known plants such as lablab beans, spiny cucumbers and dagga.

By April Danner
The Roanoke Times
Nov 5, 2017


As the harvest season winds down, visitors to Historic Smithfield Plantation can add to their tour of the property a new feature on the expansive grounds: an interpretive slave garden, which recreates an important facet of life for the enslaved people of colonial Virginia, who planted small gardens to enhance their diet, provide medicinals and maintain spiritual traditions.

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November 12, 2017   Comments Off on Slave garden at Smithfield, Virginia cultivates deeper understanding of early colonial times

Ancient grain reveals the development of the earliest cities

A new study shows that the Mesopotamian farmers during a food crisis did not try to farm their land more intensively, but converted more land to arable land. (Photo: Shutterstock)

How were the first cities established and how did they develop? The analysis of 8,000 years old grain from ancient Mesopotamia has some answers.

By Rasmus Kragh Jakobsen
Science Nordic
Oct 3, 2017


At this time, people lived in villages of perhaps 100 to 200 people, and then suddenly, some 6,000 years ago, over a period of a few centuries, these villages grew to cities of more than 10,000 inhabitants.

The development of arable farming, which provided food for all these people, is a key piece of the puzzle to understand how these cities grew so quickly.

In recent years, archaeologists have obtained a new peep-hole that allows them to see back in time. Amazingly enough, packets of information have survived 8,000 years in the form of grain from burned down houses.

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October 10, 2017   Comments Off on Ancient grain reveals the development of the earliest cities

Raíces en el asfalto – Pasado, presente y futuro de la agricultura urbana

History of Urban Agriculture in Europe, in Spanish. The book is a Free PDF.

By José Luis Fernández Casadevante Kois y Nerea Morán
Libros en Acción
La editorial de Ecologistas en Acción,
Segunda edición, mayo 2016


La primera parte será una historia de la forma en que se ha concebido la relación campo-ciudad en el urbanismo, aproximándonos a distintos modelos urbanísticos y territoriales que sirvan para contextualizar de forma nítida el marco en el que se integrarán las propuestas y actuaciones de agricultura urbana. Este recorrido nos llevará de los cercamientos de los bienes comunes a los orígenes de la ciu- dad industrial y sus problemas de habitabilidad, pasando por las utopías y teorías urbanas alternativas, como la ciudad jardín, que quisieron volver a reconciliar la ciudad con la agricultura. Un relato que continúa con el distanciamiento progresivo de las metrópolis de la actividad agraria, que siguió a la segunda guerra mundial de la mano del movimiento moderno y de la revolución verde. Terminando con la in uencia ecológista y las incipientes propuestas de reencuentro que se vienen proponiendo durante las últimas décadas.

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September 30, 2017   Comments Off on Raíces en el asfalto – Pasado, presente y futuro de la agricultura urbana

Forest Shomer – Seedman Since 1972

In 1982, Forest Shomer Came to Vancouver and Spoke at City Farmer’s ‘Urban Agriculture Lecture Series’

Interview by Greg Peterson
Nov, 2016

Forest started urban farming in 1969 in Berkeley, California. Through the People’s Park Movement, he was launched into gardening and got the basic training and motivation for becoming a seedman.

He has been a full time, independent, professions seed provider since 1972 and has owned, led, or helped launch at least four seed companies, and founded the nonprofit Abundant Life Seed Foundation which produced and distributed up to 600 types of open-pollinated vegetable, herb and flower seeds.

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September 19, 2017   Comments Off on Forest Shomer – Seedman Since 1972

36-Year-Old Bushwick Garden Razed in New York, Sold to Developer to Usher in ‘New Era’

A neglected 36-year-old community garden — once a vibrant hub for block parties and cookouts and home to the largest vegetable patch in the neighborhood — was bulldozed last week

By Gwynne Hogan and Janon Fisher
DNA Info
June 29, 2017


In it’s heyday, the green space — also known as The Secret Garden — was a leafy retreat, rising from the ashes of burned-out Broadway with sprawling vegetable patches of cabbage, collard greens, string beans, turnips, scallions, rutabagas and white onions, according to a 1983 New York Times report. The story said the garden was likely the largest vegetable patch in Bushwick, decades before urban farming became a fad.

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July 6, 2017   Comments Off on 36-Year-Old Bushwick Garden Razed in New York, Sold to Developer to Usher in ‘New Era’

1943: Girl Scouts Learn to Victory Garden

Click on image for larger file.

Professor Harry Nelson of San Francisco’s Junior College

Ann Rosener, photographer
United States. Office of War Information.
1943 Feb. Mar.

Guiding hand behind the establishment of many West coast Victory Gardens, Professor Harry Nelson of San Francisco’s Junior College still finds time to give his ten-year-old daughter Pat (left) and her Girl Scout friends some pointers in transplanting young vegetables

May 25, 2017   Comments Off on 1943: Girl Scouts Learn to Victory Garden

1934 ‘How’s Crops?’ renamed ‘Brownie’s Victory Garden’ in WW2

Theatrical Short, Van Beuren Studios
Distributed by: RKO Radio Pictures
Cartoon Characters: Cubby Bear (Brownie Bear), Cubby’s Girlfriend, Opossum, Worm.
Directed By George Stallings.
Originally Released in 1934.

[Mike’s note: This is a 1934 cartoon released and renamed in the 1940’s to help with the war effort. ‘Victory Garden’ was not a term used in 1934. Cubby was the original star. She was renamed Brownie.]

Cubby rises and shines with the dawn, and, reading a headline, learns that a “mysterious menace” is attacking farms and destroying crops. He uses his ingenuity to uncover the mystery. Cubby and his girlfriend go underground and create a crop of synthetic vegetables in their underground cave-factory, then force them upward through the soil.

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April 7, 2017   Comments Off on 1934 ‘How’s Crops?’ renamed ‘Brownie’s Victory Garden’ in WW2

1935 by Beate Hahn – ‘Hooray, We Sow and Harvest!’

Click on image for larger file.

Published in Germany – A Garden Book For Children

By Beate Hahn (Horticulturist)
(The author is the mother of famous landscape architect Cornelia Oberlander)
1935 Wilh, Gottl, Korn Verlag, Breslau, Printed in Germany, 110 pages
(This translation was kindly done by Evelyne Teichert.)


Today is yet another grim, cold day in November. Outside the wind is blowing through the streets, urging snowflakes along high up into the air. It roars around the street corner, and anyone who meets it will be blown down. This is quite ugly weather, and everyone is happy when they can once again sit in their warm home.

Here in our home a bright wood fire is crackling in the fireplace. When all the big and the small people have completed their daily tasks, we assemble around the red sheen of the fire, because father tells us stories. Mother says that this way she’ll never be able to mend all the torn children’s clothes, but everyone else thinks it is marvelous. If Peter and Lore move over just a bit, then you too will be able to join us on the bench by the fire and listen in. We also have a baked apple for you. you can hear them already crackling in the oven. Lisel, the oldest among us, gets up from time to time to tend to them.

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April 6, 2017   Comments Off on 1935 by Beate Hahn – ‘Hooray, We Sow and Harvest!’

Progress threatens Istanbul’s historic gardens

The Yedikule gardens provide a livelihood for more than 200 people in Istanbul. TRF/Stephen Starr

“Ten days ago they came and cut down all the trees almost to the roots,” he says. “I don’t know why they did that; maybe because they want a give better view for tourists to take photos of the walls. Who knows?”

By Stephen Starr
Mar 16, 2017


Recep Eraslan, 64, has worked a tiny sliver of land on Istanbul’s historic Sultanahmet peninsula for more than three decades.

He grows spring onions, arugula and cabbage on a 1.25-acre (0.5 hectare) plot along the city’s ancient Byzantine-era walls that are part of one of the oldest urban gardens, or bostans in Turkish, in the world.

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March 24, 2017   Comments Off on Progress threatens Istanbul’s historic gardens

1906 Quebec ‘Journal of Agriculture’ Promoted School Gardens

The artisan who has to work ten hours a day at his trade, if he has been trained to love his garden, not only finds moderate working in it a pleasing recreation, but finds that it adds materially to his slender income.

By Mr. George Moore
Journal of Agriculture and Horticulture
July 1, 1906
(The Journal was the official organ of the Council of Agriculture of the Province of Quebec.)


Again, looking at the question from an economic or several stand point, the advantages of a knowledge of horticulture are not to be despised. The lot of many a poor family might have been made smoother had their head have been taught, how properly to cultivate the little plot of land by which their cottage was surrounded.

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March 17, 2017   Comments Off on 1906 Quebec ‘Journal of Agriculture’ Promoted School Gardens

95-year-old Landscape Architect, Cornelia Oberlander, Describes Her Mother’s Gardening Book

Horticulturist Beate Hahn published ‘The Garden Primer for Kids and Mother’ in 1935.

By Michael Levenston
City Farmer
Mar 14, 2017
(Must see! Mike)

At her home/office in Vancouver, Canada’s famous landscape architect shows us one of her mother’s books on gardening. The book’s artist, Ursel Bartning (1905 – 1990), featured Cornelia in many of the images throughout the book including the cover.

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March 15, 2017   Comments Off on 95-year-old Landscape Architect, Cornelia Oberlander, Describes Her Mother’s Gardening Book

Historic farmhouse in Boston will serve as headquarters of the Urban Farming Institute

Courtesy Historic Boston Incorporated.

Renovations underway on historic Fowler Clark Epstein farmhouse

By Yawu Miller
The Bay Street Banner
Feb 15, 2017


Since September, work crews have been busy tackling decades of paint that adorns the 18th century face of Mattapan’s Fowler Clark Epstein Farm. They have embarked upon a historical restoration of the building that is expected to be completed later this year. The Fowler Clark Epstein Farm, built between 1786 and 1806, once occupied part of a 330-acre Dorchester estate; over the years, it was subdivided into smaller lots at a time when the Mattapan section of Dorchester was dominated by farms.

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February 21, 2017   Comments Off on Historic farmhouse in Boston will serve as headquarters of the Urban Farming Institute