As part of the WWII war effort, the government rationed foods like sugar, butter, milk, cheese, eggs, coffee, meat and canned goods. Labor and transportation shortages made it difficult to get fresh fruits and vegetables to market. The government turned to it's citizens and encouraged them to plant Victory Gardens. By growing their own fruits and vegetables, canning and preserving them, citizens were able to save commercial canned goods for the troops. Nearly 20 million Americans answered the call planting gardens in backyards, empty lots and city rooftops. Neighbors pooled their resources, planted different kinds of foods and formed cooperatives, all in the name of patriotism.
The results of victory gardening were astounding. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that more than 20 million victory gardens were planted. Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community gardens was estimated to 9-10 million tons, an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables.
The Victory Garden in the Dowling Community Garden in Minneapolis, Minnesota, remains active as one of the last surviving public examples from World War II and celebrated it's 65th Anniversary in 2008.
There was never a question in my mind that one day I would have a garden of my own. Why? My Mother was not a gardner, and certainly did not can, pickle, or preserve. I can only attribute it to spending summer days with my Great Aunt Gladys picking beans, peas and tomatoes, and "putting up pints" of these first class goods. I don't buy in to the whole organic movement, but I do value fresh, high quality produce. There is nothing like a garden tomato, or a handful of freshly picked raw peas. I don't grow my own produce in the name of patriotism per se, but for a personal sense of accomplishment. Sister K and I have been working feverishly at least one night a week to harvest and preserve this season's produce. Friends and family rejoyce.....the salsa is on the way!