Gardeners fend off starvation in Berlin, 1946.

At the beginning of World War II, victory gardens began to emerge again. Some of these gardens had started as depression relief gardens, others were gardens from the first world war. There were also many were new gardens, carved out of vacant lots, back yards, and city parks. The War Food Administration created a National Victory Garden Program, which set five maine goals.

1. lessen demand on commercial vegetable supplies and thus make more available to the Armed Forces and lend-lease programs.

2. reduce demand on strategic materials used in food processing and canning

3. ease the burden on railroads transporting war munitions by releasing produce carriers

4. maintain the vitality and morale of Americans on the home front through the production of nutritious vegetables outdoors

5. preserve fruit and vegetables for future use when shortages might become worse (Bassett 1981)

Some victory gardeners proudly distplaying their vegetables. 1942 or 1943.

Library of Congress Digital Photography Collection.

Gardens began, once again, to change in the eyes of Americans, just as they had in the first world war. They were no longer just for the poor, or for those who could not feed themselves, but for everyone. Gardening became popular not only for food security, but for it mental and physical health benefits and its benefits to the community. Gardens gave a feel of productivity that citizens on the home-front needed. A garden plot feels much more useful, productive, and important than a vacant lot or lawn. With loved one off at war, it greatly improved morale to have an outlet for the patriotism, fear, and anxiety that many Americans felt about the war. In 1942, about 5.5 million gardeners participated in the war garden effort, making seed package sales rise 300%. The USDA estimated over 20 million garden plots were planted with an estimated 9-10 million pounds of fruit and vegetables grown a year, 44 percent of the fresh vegetables in the United States. (Bassett 1981) In 1943, American families bought 315,000 pressure cookers for canning vegetables up from 66,000 in 1942 (Wessels).

Jeffersontown, Kentucky. The Jefferson County ommunity cannery, started by the WPA (Work Projects Administration). Canning beans and greens raised in a victory garden. It costs three cents each for cans and two cents per can for use of the pressure cooker. June 1943.

During the war years, Americans discovered and benefited from gardening’s many advantages. It was stylish to garden. This didn’t last long, however. Once the war ended, there was an overall decline in interest in gardening as life returned to normal in the US and the baby boomer era began. Many victory gardens were grown on loaned property, which needed to be returned in peacetime.

But urban gardens were not gone…..

Poster circulated by the New York City Work Projects Administration, between 1941 and 1943. Artist: Herbert Bayer

 

J. H. Burdet, National Garden Bureau. 1939-1945.

This is a garden built out of a bomb crater in London, 1943

Victory gardening on the Charles Schwab estate. New York, New York. June 1944.

May 1943, New York, New York. Children of the New York City Children’s Aid Society work on their victory gardens at the West Side Center.

Victory gardening at Forest Hills, Queens. New York, New York. June 1944.

 

Washington, D.C. A resident of the Southwest section and her Victory garden. June 1943.

 

 

Washington, D.C. Vice President Henry A. Wallace in his victory garden. Aug. 1942.

So, wait… food… I can grow it in my yard? That’s like a lot of work right? But you know what? It helps the war effort.

“To save gasoline, they use a horse and plow and humble farm implements. It is anything but organic. We see every kind of pest, worm and disease that can affect the garden. Rick sprays various noxious looking chemicals on the vegetables without wearing a face mask or gloves.

“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!’ Bear that in mind all you Victory Gardeners and Work! For Victory! A no-nonsense, non-idealized look at what it is like to have to really grow your own food.”

Stock Footage: MOT 1943\: COMMUNITY VICTORY GARDEN\: WS People preparing soil for planting in empty lot of rural neighborhood turning soil w/ hoes. Young adult women tilling soil. WWII 49309081_043

Stock Footage: MOT 1943\: DRAMATIZATION\: PERSONAL VICTORY GARDEN\: * EXT Seed store. Man walking into store CU War Gardens poster man buying seeds hoe saying only way to get what you want to eat grow it yourself. CU Seed packets on counter. Food shortage WWII 49309081_042

1942 Barney Bear’s Victory Garden

Similar Garden Projects

PASADENA, CA – As localization becomes increasingly popular due to the continued rise in gas prices and with the cost of living skyrocketing in the southland, Reginald Miller shows us one mans way of saving money by bringing back an alternate method of putting food on the table the old fashioned way.

Blair Randall, program director for San Francisco’s Garden for the Environment, proposes re-implementing the WWI and WWII Victory Gardens as a way to gain independence from our current food system with Victory Gardens 07+. You can check out the Victory Gardens 07+ project in San Fran here.


Handbook of the Victory Garden Committee War Services, Pennsylvania State Council of Defense. April, 1944

Available as an e-book here.

Use the references below to learn more about victory gardens during World War II:

Bassett, Thomas J. “Reaping on the Margins: A Century of Community Gardening in

America.” Landscape, 1981 v25 n2. 1-8.

Buswell, Sherley. 1980. “Victory Gardens: The Garden Warriors of 1942, Winning through 1943.” City Farmer: Vancouver, BC. 3(2).

http://www.cityfarmer.org/victgarA57.html#vict%20garden1

Goldstein, Libby J. “Philadelphia’s Community Garden History.” City Farmer, 1997.

http://www.cityfarmer.org/Phillyhistory10.html

Very brief history of Philly’s community gardens in the last century.

Helphand, Kenneth. 2006. Defiant gardens : making gardens in wartime. San Antonio, Tex. : Trinity University Press.

Lawson, Laura. 2005. City Bountiful: A Century of Community Gardening in America. University of California Press. SB457.3 .L39 2005

Levine, Ketzel. 2006. Tending “Defiant Gardens” During Wartime. NPR. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5435131

Pennsylvania State Council of Defense. Handbook of the Victory Garden Committee War Services. 1944.

http://www.earthlypursuits.com/victorygardhandbook/VGHv.htm

An online version of a gardening handbook first published in 1944 for victory gardeners.

Tucker, David M. Kitchen Gardening in America: A History. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State

University Press, 1993.

Web, Margaret Rainbow. “Grandpa’s Victory Garden.” City Farmer.

http://www.cityfarmer.org/grandpasVG.html

Remembering grandfather’s victory garden.

Wessel Living History Farm. Farming in the 40s:Victory Gardens .http://www.livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe40s/crops_02.html

A History of the Victory Garden.

http://www.victoryseeds.com/TheVictoryGarden/page2.html

Fruit From Washington – Fruit Harvest and Other Historic Posters from World War I, the Depression, New Deal and World War II

http://www.fruitfromwashington.com/History/harvest.htm#victory

More posters and a little more history

Fruit From Washington – Victory Gardens.

http://www.fruitfromwashington.com/garden/victorygarden.htm

Exirpts from Bolton Hall’s popular book, Three Acres and Liberty, published in 1918. a lot of photos and posters from both the first and second world wars.

Urban Agriculture photos.

http://homepage.mac.com/cityfarmer/PhotoAlbum42.html

some good random photos of urban agriculture all ove rthe world and throughout history… no other details sorry.

School children gardening 1912-1918.

http://homepage.mac.com/cityfarmer/PhotoAlbum33.html

lots of cute little kids gardening in quaint clothing.

Garden Warriors of Yesteryear.

http://homepage.mac.com/cityfarmer/PhotoAlbum34.html

WWI and WWI victory garden pictures

Wikipedia. Victory Gardens.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_garden

Brief overview of victory gardens.

Victory Gardens: an instructional video

http://www.archive.org/details/victory_garden

The Holder family in Maryland lays out a quarter acre Victory Garden during World War II….

Fenway Victory Gardens

http://www.fenwayvictorygardens.com/

America’s oldest victory garden, grown since 1942.

Victory garden scheduled to open with Smithsonian American History Museum in Washington D.C., fFall 2008

http://americanhistory.si.edu/house/yourvisit/victorygarden.asp

City Farmer just added some more great posts about WWI Victory Gardens

Victory Garden Resurgence

British Pathe News Reels Show Historic War Garden Programs.

Barney Bear’s Victory Garden

 
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Fritz Haeg. artist, architect, gardener, superhero.

Today for $29.95 you can can join the 3.5 million families and businesses getting everlasting happiness from their Trugreen lawns. Every month a man will come to your house and spray a delightful mixture of toxins and fertilizers to kill anything that might live in your lawn and green the stuff thats too dumb to die. (Incidently at the bottom of the Trugreen website a little blurb reads, “TruGreen ChemLawn is now TruGreen, because one word is all you need for a great lawn. We have shortened our name to make it easier for you to remember that we are the experts of lawn care. While we are known as “TruGreen”, the name ChemLawn will always be a part of our Company.” trugreen.com)

Sheep on the White House lawn during Woodrow Wilson’s Administration

The American lawn has been an institution in suburbia since suburbia began. Historians believe that this preocupation with low growning, uniform turf grass stems from 17th century Europe, when the ruling royals flaunted their wealth by surrounding themselves with lawns “Lawns did a great job of showing off castles and manor homes. They also let the neighbors know that the lawn owner was so wealthy that he could afford to use the land as a playground, rather than a source of food. Thus, the lawn became a status symbol.” (Donaldson). They are the sign of wealth, materialism, order, and perfection that America thrives on. When the push mower came on the scene in 1870, suddenly almost any property owner who wanted to could have a lawn. So the lawn became a symbol of the American dream, the land of wealth and prosperity, where anyone can have a lawn not used for practical purposes. The USDA and Garden Clubs of America pushed the lawn by holding best-kept lawn contests and writing about the desire to conform and achieve status through a beautiful lawn. The land of wealth and prosperity became the land of excess, wastefulness and materialism. When chemical pesticides and fertilizers came onto the market after World War II, lawns got artificially greener and began to pollute landscapes everywhere. Fertilizer run-off created problems in all waterways and disrupted the balance of ecosystems. For a long time is was thought that agriculture was the main source of pollution to waterways. Only recently did scientists realize the extent to which individually fertilized lawns affected the ecosystem.

Algal bloom caused by fertilizer runoff on the James River in Virginia.

Haeg has been traveling around the country on a crusade against the American lawn in his project, Edible Estates. Instead of these scary unproductive barren patches that we all insist on keeping in front of our homes, Haeg creates beautiful organic edible landscapes that will liven up the whole neighborhood and hopefully make your neighbors jealous. When I think of the words “edible landscape”, an a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory image appears in my head of carefully sculpted unicorn topiaries made out of strawberry plants or at least a giant bush shaped like a yorky terrier similar to the one outside the Guggenheim in Bilbao.

Puppy by Jeff Koons

Puppy By Jeff Koons outside the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain

As far as I know, Haeg has never made an edible landscape of that sort. His are beautiful, productive, well organized, and lasting. Unlike Trulawn, they invite creatures of all sorts into the front yard, don’t dump toxic chemicals into local waterways, and produce lots of good things to eat. “Haeg is taking over one domestic front lawn at a time… in an attempt to completely overthrow the American institution of front lawns by creating a living exhibit that reflects his personal concerns about our environment and the effort that needs to go into protecting it (Thornton).”

Edible Estate #3 in Maplewood, New Jersey (Photo by Fritz Haeg)

“I’m interested in what happens when a garden is placed in a location where it becomes a threat to the industrial/commercial system that we are embedded in.” Said Fritzy in an interview with Creative Time, “For some neighborhoods, it is a very provocative gesture that is upsetting. I think that a society that cannot grow it’s own food or that is threatened by a garden is in deep trouble. Most American homes will hide their kitchen garden in the backyard, if they have one at all. This project gets them out in front, a display created in an attempt to demonstrate the aesthetically pleasing aspects of pratical gardening. And it works. Haeg’s gardens do just what they set out to do, and sometimes I wonder why he doesn’t have a million screaming fans following him everywhere.

Stan and Priti Cox stand in front of their suburban home with Edible Estate #1 in Salina, Kansas.

To represent America as a whole, Haeg decided he wanted to build gardens evenly all over the country. He started in pretty much the geographic center on the country: The first edible estate was built in Salina, Kansas in 2005. Since then five other gardens have been built in Lakewood, California (Southwest); Maplewood, New Jersey (Northeast); London, England; Austin, Texas (South); and Baltimore, Maryland (East) respectively. There is also a demonstration garden in Descanso, California.  Not only does Fritz Haeg build and advertise the edible estates that he designs and creates, but he also encourages others to do the same. His website has an entire section titled “how to make you own” with plans, costs, advise, and references.In a way, the edible estates Fritz has created are advertisements for vegetable gardening in suburbia. “Haeg calls his Estates “franchise projects” because they can be applied anywhere. They’re the product of a sort of global localism that draws its meaning from the indigenous.” (Metropolis)

Haeg’s garden design for Edible Estate #6 commissioned by The Contemporary Museum in Baltimore

Haeg came to Baltimore to plant an edible landscape for The Contemporary Museum’s exhibit Cottage Industry. Many home owners applied for the privilege of having an awesome garden planted in their front yard by a group of eager volunteers from all around the area. To know about the selection process listen to the radio article by Maryland Morning below. So an apparently awesome couple, Clarence and Rudine, were chosen to have Edible Estate #6 planted the front yard of their suburban house and The Contemporary Museum paid for everything. On Thursday, Fritz gave a talk at the museum about the Edible Estates project.

Clarence and Rudine, happy caretakers of Edible Estate #6 in Baltimore

Then on saturday, a whole hoard of volunteers showed up to help and they got the entire garden finished in one day. I found out that the project was happening on saturday afternoon as the last veggies were planted. My bad luck. But I did get a nice email saying I could come check out the garden anytime… Well, at least it saved me the embarrassment of screaming and running around after Fritz Haeg, or fainting on the spot, or being otherwise unable to control myself in his presence…

The happy Baltimore volunteers minus a certain student of urban agriculture who should have been there. (April 11, 2008)

An addition to the wonderfully successful Edible Estates projects, Fritz Haeg has other programs.  In 2001, Haeg created the GardenLab on-campus community garden program at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena to get art and architecture students and faculty more in touch with their environmental surroundings. “Faculty, students and staff were encouraged to claim one of 30 designated plots within the school’s 175 wooded acres and use it as “a laboratory for messy experimentation and observation of natural cycles.” (Morgan) Haeg’s new Animal Estates project connects city-dwellers with wildlife.  There is currently an Animal Estate exhibit at the Whitney Museum, in New York City. He just published about book about Edible Estates from Metropolis Books. A native Minnesotan, graduated from Carnegie Melon in 1992 with a Bachelors of Arts in Architecture and now lives in Los Angeles.

The man himself: Fritz Haeg ( Photo by Christopher Krieling)

Haeg says, “I like the idea that my projects are better known than I am. More people probably know what the Edible Es-tates project is than who I am, which inverts what’s more common today, where you can know someone really well but have no idea what they’ve ever done.” In an era that loves to make stars, “artists are going to want to circumvent that and posit alternative ways of making art or being creative—for example, does art always have to be solitary?” (Metropolis)

 

Click Here to hear a good article about Fritz Haeg and his Edible Landscapes on Baltimore station WYPR’s Maryland Morning.

Curbed LA: Architect Fritz Haeg Explains His Edible Estates

Here’s more pictures of Edible Estate projects

Planting the Baltimore garden on Saturday.

Edible Estate #4, London, England.

 Commissioned by Tate Modern for the exhibtion “Global Cities” opened June 19th in the Turbine Hall.

 

Edible Estate #2 in Lakewood, California

 

Edible Estates #5 in Austin, Texas

Edible Estates Demonstration Garden: Descanso Gardens, California

 

Obsessed with lawns or Fritz Haeg? check out these sites.

American-lawns.com

Jenkins, Virginia Scott. 1994. The Lawn: A History of an American Obsession. Smithsonian Institution Press: Blue Ridge Summit, PA. 246 pp.

Donaldson, Cameron. History of the American Lawn. Guide for Real Florida Gardeners.

Chemical Contaminants-Bay Pressures-Chesapeake Bay Program.

Urban and Suburban Lands-Bay Pressures-Chesapeake Bay Program.

Thornton, Stephanie.”Edible Estates Coming to Baltimore“. City Paper.

Creative Times Presents: Iterrogating Public Space. An interview with Fritz Haeg, July 2007.

Edible Estates Official Website

Haeg, Fritz. 2008. Edible Estates: Attack on the Front Lawn. Metropolis Books.

Fritz Haeg’s Edible Estates homesteading on the suburban lawn. Culiblog.

Whitney Biennial 2008

Chang, Jade. March 2008. Greening the Edges. Metropolis.

Morgan, Susan. 2008. A Fertile Imagination. The New York Times Magazine.

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On April 20, 2008 DC will host a festival celebrating earth day the size of which the world has never seen. The producers of the Green Apple Festival in New York and the Earth Day Network have collaborated to bring amazing earth day festivals to eight cities around the country: New York, Chicaco, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco. This is the biggest celebration of earth day in US history (hmm, kinda cheezy, but good!)

There will be enivronmental action and green technology exhibits along with (Tah Dah!) The Roots (featuring Doug E. Fresh, Ne-Yo, Talib Kweli, will.i.am, Chrisette Michele and more), O.A.R. Acoustic, Gov’t Mule, Thievery Corporation (DJ Set), Toots & The Maytals, Warren Haynes Solo Acoustic, Umphrey’s McGee, CityDance Ensemble, Joy of Motion: Urban Impact, DC Boys Choir, The National Anthem with Jordin Sparks

There will be speakers like, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Richard Cizik, vice president of the National Association of Evangelicals, some members of congress and maybe even some presidential candidates…Apparently they’re still trying to book Al Gore!  Thats all according to The Washington Post, the festival website still boringly says “speakers to be announced.” 

Man, thats a nice long list. Basically they draw you in with good music and then talk sustainability at you, doesn’t sound to bad to me…

So bike to the festivities and have a super-dee-duper time!

You can check out the festival website here to learn how to volunteer, who the sponsors are, who’s playing in the other cities, and not much else.

You can get that Washington Post article I was referencing from March 26 here.

And while you’re here looking up fun earth day stuff, check out my website!  Its all about urban gardening and how nifty it is.  Its especially cool if you like history because I’m still working on the rest.  

Check back often!

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If you live in or around Baltimore, green week is coming your way stuffed with lectures, green legislation hearings, rides on a coast guard cutter, a green building tour, and the aptly named Ecofestival at Druid Hill Park.

Almost everything (except some coffeehouses) is free and interesting.  Should be bombastic.

you can check it out at http://baltimoregreenweek.org to participate, find out more about the many events, or learn more about what sustainability is…

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