I am sorry to say I never knew what a victory garden was until only a few years ago. We never discussed them in my American History class. Or maybe I was absent that day. Either way, they make perfect sense and I wonder why I didn’t ever hear about them sooner.
Victory gardens are gardens historically grown during wartime. Eleanor Roosevelt planted a victory garden during World War II to encourage the American people to do the same. These types of gardens were grown all over the United States in private yards and community spaces in an effort to contribute to the food supply and the demand that was being placed on the public food system. It is estimated that 20 million victory gardens were planted around the time of World War II. What a great idea to get those people on the home front to join in the effort and support those fighting for their country.
Unfortunately, today we are fighting different battles. From obesity to food insecurity and climate change, we’ve got a great need to grow healthy foods and improve the quality and variety of the current food system. Imagine if 20 million people took to planting just a single vegetable at their home or in their community and began to rely more on what was homegrown instead of what was mass produced?
If you’re reading this blog, you are obviously interested in the importance of healthy, sustainable food practices. I challenge you to ask others if they have ever heard of a victory garden. Encourage them to consider starting even a small garden of their own to help fight the current threats we are facing. If everyone gets involved it can make a significant impact, just like it has in the past.
About the author: Laura Kennett is a Grand Rapids resident who works in higher education and was lucky enough to have parents that began visiting farmers markets decades ago. If she could do it all over again, she would definitely be a farmer. In the meantime, she does what she can to live responsibly and appreciate what farmers contribute to the health of the public.