Bringing Back Victory Gardens

History has shown that in dark times people come together to support one another and through trials, our communal strength often rises above what we are confronted with.  A prime example of communities banding together in times of trouble is through gardening for food production.  During the hardships of the first and second world wars, the United States government encouraged citizens to grow their own fruits and vegetables, allowing the supply of large agricultural operations to be shipped to the troops overseas.  Originally known as the War Garden Movement, it was shared by word of mouth from neighbor to neighbor and promoted by clubs and civic associations to use any bit of unused land to grow food including yards, school grounds, parks and vacant lots.  

By 1918, 5.2 million acres of the renamed “Victory Gardens” were being cultivated and harvested around the United States.  The establishment of these gardens helped to ease the stress of potential food shortages and supplied a sustainable source of fresh fruits and vegetables to the families of the United States. Almost half of the fresh produce consumed in the United States in 1944 came from these Victory Gardens, keeping our families and communities healthy and strong.  

While we may not be at war as we typically think of it, the global impact of the current COVID-19 pandemic has created similar fears and concerns; product shortages, economic crisis. We can now look back on the dark past of the World Wars with inspiration; at that time, citizens of the United States came together as a country and as communities creating resilience in times of strife. It is time for us to investigate the successes of the past and revive the self-sufficient ideals of the last century. 

Have you been thinking about starting a garden? Now is the perfect time. The essential vitamins and nutrients derived from fresh, organic produce will keep your family healthy and boost immunity to protect from illness.  It is time for Victory Gardens to make a comeback so that we can once again inspire one another to come together and weather through whatever the future holds with access to healthy food. 

Natural disasters, economic hardships, and war are a part of human history, but what we do during these times is up to us.  Take a stand for your world, our world, and start a victory garden today.  

Here at Appalachian Sustainable Development, we have developed the resources to guide and empower you to create your own victory garden.  On our website, you will find an Introduction to Organic Gardening Manual under the resources tab to help you support your endeavor immediately. 

ASD’s mission will always be to support our local community through healthy food, and we want you to know that we are here for you in these uncertain times.  Stay healthy, stay local and stay strong.  

This blog post was written by Appalachian Sustainable Development’s Forest Farming AmeriCorps VISTA and Grow Your Own gardener, Ciera Wilbur.