War and Victory Gardens

During both World Wars the U.S. government called on citizens to grow as much of their own food as possible.  Called “war gardens” during World War I, the term “Victory gardens” came into use after that war ended in 1918.

Posters with snappy slogans – “Sow the Seeds of Victory,” “Can the Kaiser,” “Every Garden a Munition Plant” – called people to action.  Pamphlets and how-to books taught the uninitiated how to create a successful garden and how to preserve any extra food raised. 

Gardeners were encouraged “to aid in making the war successful” by increasing the food supply and producing food locally.  This allowed commercially produced food, factory facilities, transportation, and fuel to be available for the war effort.  It is estimated that over five million new gardens were created by 1919.  As gardening became a civic virtue during World War II, victory gardens were created on urban lots, suburban lots, and in public parks, and produced approximately ten million tons of local food annually.  

The Dowling Community Garden in Minneapolis (near 46th Avenue and 39th Street South) was created in 1943 as a victory garden; it is one of two remaining victory garden sites in the United States still in cultivation.

War and Victory Gardens