Alicia DeVore

A small backyard garden saved our nation over 90 years ago. And guess what, that backyard garden may save us today with the uncertainties of the food supply chain.

In the 1930s, a family garden was incredibly common, with many families relying on them for to eat and survive. Nearly a third of all U.S. households had a garden then. Today, only .1% have backyard gardens.

Let’s take a look at what vegetable gardens did for families many years ago and 5 ways the victory gardens of the past can help build resiliency for the future.

What are Victory Gardens?

Victory Gardens were created by necessity. It started during World War I in the early 20th century as villagers started cultivating their own foods to help with the fighting efforts and stabilize the supply as a war effort.

During World War II, victory gardens were encouraged by the government to provide food for those affected by wartime shortages. It was also used as a form of propaganda from the government, inspiring citizens with messages of hope amidst difficult times.

Today, there is a growing interest in reviving the concept of victory gardens as a way to reduce dependence on grocery stores and to fight against potential food shortages. It has also grown interest as more people want to know about sustainable gardening practices.

What was in a Victory Garden?

Victory gardeners were used to grow vegetables, herbs, and fruit. These growing spaces kept our country’s food supply going when farms were not being cultivated because there was no one to work the soil. Many of the people who went to war left behind jobs that helped feed our nation.

They were typically planted with vegetables such as radishes, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, peas, beans, sweet potatoes, and turnips. Other popular crops included kale, lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard. Fruit tree saplings were also frequently planted as an overall symbol of victory.

garden growing salad each day

Here are Five Ways that having a Victory Garden can Benefit You Today:

1. Save Money

Growing your own fresh vegetables is cheaper than buying it from the store. The money saved from growing fresh produce at home can be put towards other expenses or saved for emergencies.

2. Protect Against Shortages

During periods of economic uncertainty, commercial food supplies may be in short supply. Having your own source for fresh produce can help protect you and your family against potential shortages.

3. Improve Health

Eating healthy fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of developing many chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. Homegrown produce also tastes better because it’s freshly picked instead of sitting in transport containers for days or weeks before being sold at a grocery store.

4. Connect with Nature

Taking care of plants not only gives you something beautiful to look at but has been proven to have therapeutic benefits like reducing stress levels or improving mental well-being through mindfulness practices such as meditation or yoga.

5. Learn New Skills

Gardening teaches new skills like how to properly care for plants, troubleshoot problems with plant growth and practice techniques on pest control without using unnatural chemicals that may damage the environment or harm beneficial insects like bees and butterflies which play an important role in pollination and planting cycles.

Being able to grow your own food feels good.

How to Grow a Victory Garden

To grow any type of garden:

1. Choose a location that gets plenty of sunlight and has good drainage.

2. Prepare the soil by adding organic matter such as compost that is nutrient-rich.

3. Purchase quality seeds or seedlings that are right for your climate and growing season.

4. Water regularly, using either a hose or a nearby water source if you don’t have a sprinkler system in place.

5. Monitor your plants regularly to detect pests, diseases, or nutrient deficiencies quickly so you can take action to keep them healthy and thriving.

When should I plant my Victory Garden?

The best time to plant a victory garden is in the spring, as soon as the last frost has passed. Then add to the garden with summer and then fall.

Whenever there is an empty spot in the garden, plant for the next season.

Growing all year long will give you more produce and using the space for growing will make for great production.

Plant in a sunny spot with direct light. This will ensure that your vegetables get plenty of sunlight and have access to the nutrients necessary for healthy growth because of the sun.

An example of World War 2 Propaganda

Why should I grow a Victory Garden?

A garden can help you reduce emissions in your home and allow you to “store” your garden for food from your own backyard.

I love walking out back to my vertical planters that have over 30 plants in each one and growing and harvesting my salad each day. I don’t have to spend the money, spend the time driving to the store, or the extra costs of the transportation for the same product that I was able to just pick from my back porch.

By planting a garden, people can discover a healthy and nutritious lifestyle. This translates to families being able to grow food together and learn life skills that can be used for a lifetime of health.

Reducing the Carbon Footprint

Growing your own garden is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and protect the environment.

A carbon footprint is a measure of the amount of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and methane, that an individual is responsible for producing. Reducing transportation of items reduces the carbon footprint.

How did Victory Gardens help World War 1?

They played an important role during World War 1. Reducing the demand for food from other sources, such as imported and rationed products meant that more food was available for soldiers on the front line.

The gardens provided a boost to morale by providing fresh fruits and vegetables to the nation. These gardens served as a way to unite communities in their efforts to help those affected by war.

How did Victory Gardens impact World War II?

Victory Gardens played an even more important role during World War II. This time, the gardens were used heavily as a propaganda tool to promote patriotism and help civilians feel connected to the war effort.

It was also seen as a way to inject additional food into the market and reduce prices for those on a tight budget. These gardens provided much-needed nutrition for those affected by rationing, or those in need due to other circumstances.

The National War Garden Commission was created in 1943 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to encourage Americans to turn their lawns and vacant lots into gardens through a victory garden campaign.

They issued pamphlets, advertising campaigns and educational programs to the country about the benefits of growing a garden during war time. They awarded certificates in the victory garden program to those who planted victory gardens, which acted as a morale boost for gardeners and an incentive to keep planting more vegetables.

People around the world embraced the concept of victory gardens, creating them in parks, home and community plots, public squares, abandoned lots and anywhere else land could be secured. They undoubtedly contributed to the Allies’ success during this dark time in history.

How can a Victory Garden Help You Today?

Growing your own food helps you save money by eliminating the need to buy produce that is healthy, organic foods free of harmful pesticides and other chemicals.

Having vegetable gardens planted provides physical activity, which can be beneficial for your overall health and well-being.

A victory garden can provide an outlet for creative expression as you plan and design your own garden. To grow vegetables and own produce reduces the carbon footprint and helps the home front overall.

Plant a victory garden and start your own food garden today.


What were war gardens used for?

War gardens were used during World War I and II to provide food for people affected by the wars. These gardens were cultivated in parks, backyards, vacant lots, and community plots. They became a popular way for citizens to support their country during times of conflict.

What makes a victory garden?

Home gardens can be a form of defense from not having enough food for the future. By relying on commercial production of food, we limit ourselves. But having our own gardens for food production we can be more self-sufficient.

Vegetables harvested makes victory gardening worth the effort.

What is the definition victory garden?

The goal was to supplement their diets with fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as increase the amount of available food supplies.

garden growing with greens
Garden greens to last a season of gardening

What did Eleanor Roosevelt do to promote victory gardens?

During World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt was an active advocate of the victory garden. She promoted the effort by giving lectures around the country, writing newspaper columns and making personal appearances at local garden sites.

She encouraged Americans to plant their own victory garden in order to help the war effort while also cultivating a sense of patriotism. Her efforts helped make victory gardens a national phenomenon, with over 20 million people growing them throughout the war.

What if you don’t have a place to grow?

Even if you don’t have a large backyard or a place to grow your own vegetables, you can still participate in a Victory Garden with your family. Spending time together growing victory gardens can happen with container gardens (READ more HERE), vertical planters (READ more HERE), raised beds (READ more HERE), and inground plots.

(add vertical planter blog post and course).

You can also join community-sponsored plots that provide space for gardening. Look into your area to rent a plot of land to grow Victory Gardens.

If you need resources to help you start your garden, check out the RESOURCES.

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About the Author

Alicia has been teaching her whole life from elementary teacher to workshops for beginning gardeners.  Go HERE to read Alicia's story into gardening from plant killer to pro grower and garden coach.  If you want to send Alicia a quick message, then use her contact page HERE.

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