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Victory gardens are vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted in public parks or private residences during World War I and World War II. They were planted in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Germany. Also called “war gardens” and “food gardens for defense,” these public and special private gardens were planted to reduce pressure on the public food supply brought on by the wars. They also helped boost morale, as gardeners felt empowered by their contribution. During the World Wars, the government rationed foods such as milk, cheese, butter, eggs, sugar, coffee and meat. Labor shortages made it difficult to harvest and transport fruits and vegetables, so the government encouraged citizens to plant “victory gardens” for their own produce. Approximately 20 million people participated by planting victory gardens. These gardens were planted in vacant lots, backyards and apartment-building rooftops. Also, during WWII, sections of Hyde Park in London were publicly plowed for gardens. In New York City, lawns around vacant Riverside were devoted to victory gardens, and in San Francisco, parts of Golden Gate Park became gardens. Common slogans were “Our Food is Fighting” in the U.S. and in Britain, “Dig for Victory!”

After the turn of the 21st century, there has been a renewed interest in victory gardens. There have been new grassroots campaigns promoting victory gardens in public spaces. In addition, there are victory garden websites and blogs, and petitions to encourage a national campaign for victory gardens. In March, 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama planted a 1,100-square foot “kitchen garden” on the White House lawn.


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