The government’s stance toward food and food production today is a far cry from the Victory Garden era of World Wars One and Two. Today, Victory Gardens might as well be called survival gardens, since our very existence may well depend on our own ability to feed ourselves.
Back then the Victory Gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at private residences in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom during World War I and World War II to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. In addition to indirectly aiding the war effort these gardens were also considered a civil “morale booster” — in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. Making victory gardens became a part of daily life on the home front.
Amid regular rationing of canned food in Britain, a poster campaign (“Plant more in ’44!”) encouraged the planting of Victory Gardens by nearly 20 million Americans. These gardens produced up to 40 percent of all the vegetable produce consumed nationally.
It was emphasized to home front urbanites and suburbanites that the produce from their gardens would help to lower the price of vegetables needed by the US War Department to feed the troops, thus saving money that could be spent elsewhere on the military: “Our food is fighting”, one poster read.
Basic information about gardening appeared in public services booklets distributed by the Department of Agriculture, as well as by agribusiness corporations such as International Harvester and Beech-Nut.
Victory gardens were planted in backyards and on apartment-building rooftops, with the occasional vacant lot “commandeered for the war effort!” and put to use as a cornfield or a squash patch. During World War II, sections of lawn were publicly plowed for plots in Hyde Park, London to publicize the movement. In New York City, the lawns around vacant “Riverside” were devoted to victory gardens, as were portions of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
In 1946, with the war over, many residents did not plant Victory Gardens in expectation of greater produce availability. However the added pressures of supplying liberated Europe meant that, in the UK, shortages remained, or in many cases got worse.
My mother got serious about her Victory Garden in 1942, the year I was born. Even after her only brother, my uncle, Harold, was shipped off to fight and die on Okinawa, she continued the tradition.
I’ve had gardens through the years, but I didn’t really get serious until 2004. That’s the year I realized that food shortages were imminent. That became obvious when fresh tomatoes jumped to about $1.50 each, (they are now up to $3.50 each – at times) and other fruits and vegetables carried a sticker that said, “Produce of Mexico.”
Other food items continue to rise; asparagus (when you can find it) is about $3.50 a pound; apples average $1 each and other food products have also risen proportionally.
The lesson really came home to roost when I read a small article that even the Jolly Green Giant had farmed out corn production to Peru and when I traveled to Michigan for a two week visit with my mother she showed me acre after acre of asparagus that was to be plowed under since production of that vegetable was also being turned over to foreign growers.
Every year thousands of small farmers sell-out – no longer able to compete in the so-called global economy. Thus, in my humble opinion, the Victory Garden has become more than a way to pass time, it has become a necessity. Yet in spite of the obvious danger our food supply is in, homeowners more and more frequently turn luscious, fertile back yards into pet runs or even worse, cement or stone covered patios. A small 10′ x 10′ area can produce dozens of quarts of tomatoes, beets, pickles or other vegetables of your choice.
The following three videos tell some of the advantages of having your own food supply.
What will happen to America, the land of plenty, if we wake up one day and find we are no longer able to feed ourselves? Please don’t snicker – that is a very real possibility as more and more of us are herded into cities where there is limited capability to grow even a small portion our own food and small family farms are being driven out.
Every time a home gardener goes to his or her own pantry and pulls down part of the evening’s meal, he or she deprives some foreign producer or government of a sale and thus the profits and control over our nation’s food supply.
A lot of the food products our few remaining farmers produce, such as rice, is being shipped overseas because so many people in the “utopian global neighborhood” can’t or won’t feed themselves. In fact, as of April 24, 2008, rice was being rationed at such retail giants as Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. Rice is no longer being rationed but it should serve as a warning that it could happen again.
We are at war again and this war is much more deadly. We are at war not with Germany, Japan or Italy, but with radical Islam – and to a much larger degree – our own government. The sooner the American public wakes up and begins to assume some small control over its destiny, the better off we will all be. And that control may consist of nothing more than growing a little garden – a Victory Garden.
So, let’s get started. I intend to provide my readers with a running, blow-by-blow account of this year’s garden. My wife was recently discharged from a nursing home with a disabling disease, so we were forced to move to a rental house more suitable to a wheel-chair-bound person. So our garden is a starter – from scratch – putting us in a similar position to others who are just beginning their gardening experience.
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