The History of Victory Gardens
1916 came to be known as "agriculturally the most disastrous year for Europe and America."
- Crops failed in France, England, Italy, and America.
- The French ration of was bread 7 oz. per day.
- England produced 1/5th of its food.
- Milk production was down by 60%.
This was largely due to former farmers having been called to arms during World War I. At this time, Europe looked to America to help supply their food shortage and so the "war garden" effort was born.
The Victory Garden (first known simply as the "war garden") was the brainchild of philanthropist, Charles Lathrop Pack. Pack is known primarily as the organizer of the War Garden Commission during the first World War.
By 1918, they estimated that 5,285,000 gardens had been created in backyard lots, public spaces, rooftops, vacant lots and "every idle land" in order to provide food for the US and its allies.
Below is a circulated poster from the World War I collection of the University of North Texas which displays some of General Pershing first words upon landing in France.
In the book, "The War Gardens Victorious: Its War Time Need & Its Economic Value in Peace" Pack writes, "In no previous war did women play a part as they did in the world war."
Voices from Gardens Past
"Thanks for the war vegetable gardening book you sent me in the spring. My husband is in the navy and I have two small babies, but that did not keep me from raising a garden. We have a plot 50 by 200 ft. and every inch is in something. I wish you could see it. I weigh 90 lbs but I am going to do my bit. Now I wish you could send me your home canning and drying book."
"I was 78 years old on March 31st. I expect to raise what beans I need for a family of 3 this year. I did it last year and did all my own planting."
During World War II, 20 million "Victory Gardens" were raised. And according to Wessels Living History Farm, "fruits and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots were estimated to be 9-10 million tons, an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables."
When the war ended, so did the government promotion of Victory Gardens. Many people did not plant a garden in the spring that followed (1946). At that time, post-war commercial agriculture was not yet to full production. As a result, groceries were meagerly stocked and the country experienced some food shortages then.
A New Victory Garden
Today, Green America is leading a new Victory Garden campaign. It is called the "Climate Victory Garden!"
A Climate Victory Garden is one that will not only supply the food that we need right at home but will help to regenerate the earth. This is a world-wide war effort, not just one for the United States and everyone can take part in it.
How do we know that gardening will help the climate?
We've concluded that out of all the "green" things you can do (i.e solar, wind, geothermal etc.), gardening is actually the most impactful thing you can do. We've gone into the details about that in THIS BLOG: "Why Garden? Growing Food is the Greenest Choice!"
Our personal mission at Permaculture Gardens has always been one of family stewardship. We believe that God has given us this beyond beautiful planet that we live in, and that in the process of growing abundantly, we simultaneously can help "renew the face of the earth."
Though separated by a century, I would like to say together with the military mom TJ Ulery, quoted above, "I am going to do my bit."
What is a Climate Victory Garden?
A Climate Victory Garden is essentially a "regenerative garden." Its specific goal is to capture carbon in soil and aboveground biomass, reversing current global trends of atmospheric accumulation through gardening! (Regenerative Agriculture Definition)
Want to know if your backyard is already a Climate Victory Garden? If you check off at least one of the boxes below, you're in! And if you've ever been to one of our webinars or have been following this blog, you guys know these "commitments" below are what we preach all the time! For instance, "Get To Know My Garden" was the topic of our last blog.
Already living out the Climate Garden Commitments? Then make it official, by REGISTERING on the Climate Victory Garden site. That way, we have a way of measuring the grassroots efforts that you and I pool together to help cool our climate world-wide!
Climate Victory Garden Video
HERE's a short video where Ron Finley, "The Gangsta Gardener" (who uses one gangsta word in the video) and actress, Rosario Dawson talk about the easy-to-join campaign. I wasn't familiar with Rosario Dawson until this video, but I've been following Ron Finley's work with kids gardens in LA for a few years now. I'm always inspired by his perseverance and grit. This guy got city ordinances in East LA changed so he and his "gangsta gardeners" could grow food in public spaces legally!
Listen to what they have to say and register your garden at Green America to join the movement. We're trying to get at least 5000 gardens registered by next year.
Reading the many letters sent to the War Garden Commission in 1918, I am moved to see how we are all connected across the millennia.
Our time here on earth is short, but our daily work of nurturing, nourishing and growing food extends beyond our current families and friends. Climate Victory Gardens are for our grandkids and their children.
So please take a moment to REGISTER your garden, no matter how big or small your growing efforts are.
Just think, our great grandchildren may be reading about the gardens that we document HERE someday in the future!
Do I get anything if I register on the Climate Victory Garden map?
I think the likelihood of getting a freebie when you register your Climate Victory Garden is quite high. But since I am not officially from Green America, I can't know for sure what the freebie will be. Comment below, so Jes Walton, the Climate Victory Garden director, can see you, send you a reply and maybe even a freebie!
How are Climate Victory Gardens different from Permaculture Gardens?
Well, I would say, Permaculture is a design system based on observation that integrates humans, plants, animals, the home and community. A permaculture garden is one where the output/yield is far greater than what you put into it. It is a cyclical economy at play and it also factors in such energies as solar, water, wind, wildlife into the equation of design.
So in my opinion, all permaculture gardens are Climate Victory Gardens but perhaps not necessarily vice versa.
Are you getting paid to advertise Climate Victory Gardens for Green America?
No way! They reached out to us because Jes, the new director of the Climate Victory Campaign happened to be part of the Permaculture Garden tribe and she saw at once how aligned her campaign goals were with ours, so we connected and had a really fun time chatting over Zoom about Climate Victory Gardens!
Maybe you have an idea you'd like us to promote. If you do, tell us below!
OK, so I'm doing some of those commitments listed above but not all of them. Am I still technically a "Climate Victory Garden?"
Absolutely! We are all of us learning to become more sustainable, more zero-waste, more regenerative and more organic. Even if you are just about to start your garden but have plans to implement at least (1) one of the commitments, you can register your garden on the map!
I'm pretty sure I have a Climate Victory Garden, but what's the benefit of me registering my garden on the Climate Victory Garden site?
Plenty! This is a grassroots effort from everyone, no matter where you live in the world. As long as you are gardening by trying to work with nature, not against it, we want to know who you are. By registering, all of us Climate Victory Gardeners will be able to:
- encourage each other
- document our gardens
- study and increase the number of backyard gardens, allotments, growing spaces
- and help reverse climate change, together.
- Plus see FAQ # 1 for possible FREEBIES.
So don't just REGISTER, but please spread the word about this campaign! We're part of it and we hope you'll join us!
Love the idea of gardening. However I live in a rent house and do not want to dig up my landlords yard. I have thought about contaniner or making planter boxes to garden in but not sure how successful they would be.
Yes, Elizabeth! You can most definitely plant in container boxes. While we definitely have plants growing inside our home year-round, we are working on an indoor growing project this year to include growers who have container gardens and even tighter spaces than ours. So keep your eyes peeled for a future blog on that!
Do you make the Climate Victory Gardener shield logo on stickers? T-Shirt? Cyrus The Wormfarm in Libby, MT 59923
We do not, but I believe Green America does this. LOVE that you’re a worm farm! Kindly post a link to your site so we can spread the word!