16 May Digging for Victory
One of my favorite aspects of springtime at the Memorial is our annual Victory Garden project. Every year we select a group of local students to participate in planning, planting, tending, and harvesting the Memorial’s own Victory Garden. We collaborate with local Master Gardeners, 4-H agents, and the Bedford Cooperative Extension to teach students about nutrition, environmental science, and the farm to table process. I am always amazed by the eagerness of our students to learning about gardening in our hands-on format.
The Memorial’s victory garden is a representation of the victory gardens common on the American Homefront in WWII. Victory gardens first became popular in WWI in the midst of food rationing, and when war broke out again in the 1940s and rationing was re-introduced, Americans across the country turned to their Victory Gardens to supplement their diets. By the end of WWII, over 20 million victory gardens were growing nation-wide!
Victory gardens were planted during the world wars to ensure an adequate food supply for civilians and troops. Many different agencies and organizations worked together to provide land, instruction, and seeds for Americans to grow food. Across the country, people plowed backyards, vacant lots, parks, and even baseball fields to set out gardens. Adults and children tended their gardens in order to harvest plenty of vegetables.
The goal of a victory garden was to produce enough vegetables for a family and their neighbors for the summer. Any excess produce was canned and saved for the winter and early spring until next year’s harvest.