Though victory gardens are a thing of the past, the sense of pride and feeling of accomplishment in growing your own food are embedded in the urban garden movement.
By Chuck Bell,
May 5, 2019
The idea of urban gardening, however, is not new. My grandparents dug up part of their Zanesville city lawn to grow their own vegetables. They had witnessed the food shortages of World War II and the victory gardens that helped ease the situation.
Shortly after we entered the war, Secretary of Agriculture Claude Wickard launched a nationwide Victory Garden program. Skilled gardeners taught their neighbors. New tools were not available because of the metal shortage, so old ones were shared. Vegetables were planted in schoolyards, sports arenas, public parks, private lawns and window boxes. Locally, gardens were planted in the Armco fields that now house the youth soccer leagues.
Rationing was instituted in March 1943. Cans of food were shipped to the troops overseas, depleting the supply of tin for domestic use. Grocery shelves showed shortages of canned fruits and vegetables. It became a matter of necessity as well as a patriotic duty to participate in the victory garden initiative.
Placards reading “Food is Ammunition – Don’t Waste It” and “Sow the Seeds of Victory – Plant and Raise Your Own Vegetables” were posted liberally. An estimated 20 million victory gardens were planted during World War II producing more than 8 million tons of food or approximately 41 percent of the fresh produce consumed in the nation. Excess produce was preserved in reusable glass jars. As a result, pressure cooker sales rose from a recorded 66,000 in 1942 to more than 316,000 in 1943.