Should We Bring Back Victory Gardens?

Victory gardens gave Americans on the homefront a sense of purpose while providing food to the nation during a time of need. Should they make a comeback?

During World War II the nation fell on hard times. With fresh fruits and vegetables in short supply, food needed to be rationed and the government ultimately turned to the citizens to do their part to keep the nation fed. Families on the home front were encouraged to “put their idle land to work” and to produce “victory” gardens to combat the food shortage.

Slogans such as “Dig for Victory,” “Every War Garden is a Peace Plant,” “Sow the Seeds of Victory,” and “Uncle Sam Says, ‘Garden to Cut Food Costs’” covered pamphlets. People quickly realized it was their national duty to participate.

In 1943, nearly forty percent of all fruits and vegetables grown in the US were grown in victory gardens. There were gardens planted in backyards, empty lots, and on the top of city rooftops. Neighbors and communities worked together and formed cooperations. Even schools got involved to provide supplemental food for lunches. An estimated 20 million victory gardens were planted, with about 9–10 million tons of fruits or vegetables harvested. Even Eleanor Roosevelt took part by planting her own victory garden at the White House in 1943.

What Were Victory Gardens?

Victory Gardens, also called “war gardens” or “food gardens for defense” were gardens planted by ordinary citizens during World War I and World War II to provide some relief in the public food demands.

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Victory gardens were soon “cropping up” across the United States and Canada. Victory gardens were considered a civil morale booster.

Ordinary citizens were growing tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, beets, and peas.  Victory gardens introduced us to Swiss chard and kohlrabi because they were easy to grow.

The United States government even provided growing plans and tips on how to grow a backyard garden, as well as a recipe book with home-grown vegetable recipes. Families were also encouraged to can their excess veggies to send overseas to troops. Victory gardens made sure that there was enough food for the fighting soldiers.

A Sense of Purpose

Victory gardens gave Americans on the home front a sense of purpose and a way to contribute to the war effort while also providing the food needed to sustain a nation during a time of need. But after the war ended in 1945, victory gardens began to disappear. Grocery stores and commercial food began to become more widely available so most Americans didn’t see the need to grow anymore. Gardening became a hobby rather than a necessity for most people.

Fast Forward to Today

The food supply and state of health in our country are once again facing new challenges. As a nation, we do not consume enough fruits and vegetables. A large portion of our food makes long journeys before even hitting our tables, losing nutrients along the way. A sizable percentage of our food is grown with pesticides. And rising food prices (especially for organic food) only exacerbates the problem. Today, because many have concerns about the quality of our food, home gardening is making a resurgence.

Grow Your Own Food

Not only is gardening an excellent way to reduce your grocery bill, but it is also a great way to bring your family (and neighborhood) together.

Here are some compelling reasons why you should consider starting your own victory garden this year:

  1. Growing your own fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to stretch your food budget.
  2. Homegrown vegetables provide readily-available nutrition (every day a vegetable is off the vine it loses its health benefits).
  3. No harmful chemicals are sprayed on your veggies.
  4. It would provide fresh air and outdoor exercise for the whole family.
  5. Forges bonding experiences for family and community members.
  6. Allows you to control your food supply and be more self-sufficient.
  7. Gardening is a great activity to help relieve stress and improve sleep quality.
  8. Reduces your carbon footprint.
  9. Statistically, gardeners live longer!

Don’t let lack of space deter you. No matter how much room you have, you can grow your own vegetables in your backyard (or front yard, in some cases). Even a 10 x 10 ft garden can grow a tremendous amount of food for your loved ones.

Why Not…

This year try replacing the flowers in your window boxes with something edible. If you are new to gardening, start slow so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Only have a small apartment patio or terrace? You can still grow food! Check out these tips.

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Natalie LaVolpe

Natalie LaVolpe is a freelance writer and former special education teacher. She is dedicated to healthy living through body and mind. She currently resides on Long Island, New York, with her husband, children, and dog.

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I have never been a fan of grocery shopping. So when we moved to our present home, we started seriously gardening/farming. I enjoy the feeling of looking into my veggie freezer and pantry and seeing food that we grew and harvested. Each year we try something different, whether a food, method or preserving. There’s a lot to be said for soil microbes doing a body good! And be sure to check Farmers Almanac for planting, pulling and plowing days.

GD packard

Gardening should be a law. Every household with viable space needs to have a garden. Especially in these troubled times. I remember as a child my grandparents always had a large wonderful garden full of tomatoes, green beans, peas, carrots, potatoes, onions, etc. They were part of the generation that went thru WW2 era. Doing their part in helping out in cutting the cost of food. And raising 6 children by no means was cheap. Gardening also brought them closer together as a family with everyone of them having to do their own part in growing the garden. I still picture granny sitting there splitting pea pods for hours on end. And never once heard a single complaint. Grandpa had quite the green thumb as their garden every year was quite proficient. And nothing ever went to waste. What they couldn’t use at the time was canned and stored for later use. I’m so glad I did get to see them gardening and that instilled gardening in me so I have to give thanks to both of them for what I learned from them.

Sandi Jones

Reason #1 for me is that home-grown tomatoes taste better in everyway that supermarket tomatoes


Love this my 4 different kind of Cuccumbers are up still eating kale from the winter my parsly is doing fine one day i want a green house on my lot so I can grow more

Walter Werner

Very good artical!!! People need to get back to basics and be more self contained!!! Have a GREAT DAY!!!

Katrina Derrico

Edible landscape also a great option. English garden style landscape provides camouflage for edibles for homeowners governed by HOA Covenants or needing an aesthetically pleasing option for growing.

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