Some people plant them as a way to save money on groceries. Others plant them in an attempt to help the environment and cut down on waste. And still others plant them to eliminate harmful pesticides and other residues from the family diet. No matter what the motivation, victory gardens have been making a comeback across the land, springing up everywhere from rural backyards to urban rooftops.
Victory gardens can be as simple or as elaborate as the gardener wishes, and each victory garden is a unique creation. City dwellers may look at their victory gardens as a way to combat the high price of urban produce. Those with more land may look at their gardens as a way to feed their families and even their neighbors.
Enterprising gardeners in the suburbs are even teaming up with their neighbors to create informal co-ops and food sharing clubs. No matter what the motivation, however, planting a victory garden is a great way to save money, help the environment and get back to nature.
A good number of these new victory gardeners are too young to remember the original versions. During the World War II years the federal government asked all Americans to plant victory gardens in support of the war effort.
Americans responded enthusiastically, producing more than 20 tons of vegetables in one year alone. But these original victory gardens did more than support the troops – they also boosted the American spirit and helped foster the can do attitude for which the country is known.
That same kind of can do attitude is largely responsible for the reemergence of this phenomenon. This time around no government impetus was needed – the new Victory Garden movement is truly a grass roots phenomenon. As food prices began to rise and the cost of fresh produce became particularly daunting the idea of working the soil and growing nutritious food in the backyard became very attractive.
And as the economic downturn really began to hit home the value of these new Victory Gardens continued to grow. In town after town and city after city petunias gave way to potatoes and begonias gave way to beans. Homeowners began to use fruit trees to compliment their landscapes, providing not only beauty but a bounty of fresh produce as well.
Those original Victory Garden pioneers have been able to dramatically cut their food bills while providing their families with an abundant supply of fresh fruits and vegetables. With grocery bills on the rise and the economy in a tailspin it is easy to see why a money saving concept that is also good for the environment caught on so quickly.
It remains to be seen whether the current Victory Garden craze will survive the economic recovery, but there are some positive signs that these special gardens are here to say. Many gardeners who were once intimidated by food crops have found that growing those plants is not as challenging as they thought, and a steady supply of cheap and wholesome food is hard to walk away from.
Want to learn more about how to grow a Victory Garden?
Revive the Victory Garden is a terrific site that has information about the original Victory Garden program, as well as information on how to grow your own Victory Garden today.
The Victory Garden Initiative encourages people to get rid of some or all of their lawn, and grow food instead!
The Smithsonian suggests these reading materials for learning about the history of the Victory Garden.