Victory Gardens

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“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!’

America was the land of plenty, but World War II challenged our ability to grow and distribute enough food. Farmers and farm laborers left for the military or to higher paying jobs, leading to a severe farm labor shortage. Transportation shortages made it hard to harvest and move fruits and vegetables to market.

At the same time, the United States was providing food to our allies, hoping to prevent their collapse. About 25 percent of total food production in 1943 went to the armed forces and to our allies, with each soldier needing a ton of food a year.

Nearly 20 million Americans answered the call.

To boost production and ease the strain on the transportation system, Victory Gardens “sprouted” across the country as many Americans joined the patriotic cause. They planted gardens in backyards, empty lots and even city rooftops.

Families were encouraged to can their own vegetables to save commercial canned goods for the troops. In 1943, families bought 315,000 pressure cookers (used in the process of canning), compared to 66,000 in 1942.

Committees of civilians set up local Victory Garden programs across the country. A guide for these committees, endorsed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, stated that, “The beautification of the home and community by gardening provides healthful physical exercise, recreation, definite release from war stress and strain.”

By 1945, an estimated 20 million Victory Gardens produced approximately 40 percent of America’s vegetables

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From the book: This publication gives general information for the inexperienced gardener on what to grow, how to prepare and fertilize the soil, how and when to plant, how to care for the plants, and how to utilize the crop. For more detailed directions consult your State agricultural college, county agent, vocational agricultural teachers, or local experienced gardeners. Unusual demands are being made on domestic supplies of vegetable seeds. Do not waste them.

  US Dept. of Agriculture: Victory Gardens - Issued February 1942 (.mobi) (157.4 KiB, 1,394 hits)

  US Dept. of Agriculture: Victory Gardens - Issued February 1942 (.pdf) (951.7 KiB, 2,772 hits)