Victory Gardens Are Making a Comeback Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

 

Most of us today feel like we have lost control. And since there is no guarantee that life will return to normal, many people seek their own sense of security, whether by preparing comfort foods (read: banana bread), trying new crafts, or gardening. for the very first time.

Interest in gardening, in particular, has increased in recent months in part due to seasonal changes, but also due to growing anxiety in the food supply amid the coronavirus epidemic. Interest in growing a garden reached an all-time high in late March, according to Google Trends, while searches for “growing vegetables from leftovers” increased 4,650% from the year. last. Nurseries, DIY stores and garden centers in all regions of the country report that seeds, plants and gardening tools are stealing from shelves. George Ball, President of Burpee Seeds, said Reuters they sold more seeds in March than at any point in its 144-year history, forcing the company to hold new orders for a week to catch up. Even social media reflects this growing demand: to date, the hashtag #victorygarden has been added to more than 66,000 Instagram posts.

And really, it makes perfect sense. Feeding America, the country’s largest network of food banks, plans to serve an additional 17 million people in the next six months due to COVID-19, according to Marketplace. Even those who have not been financially affected by the pandemic are trying to avoid grocery stores at all costs, especially given the shelves picked, the growing scarcity of meat and current guidelines on social distancing.

While some parts of the country are returning to a (new) normal, this experience has emphasized the value of growing your own food in times of crisis. “They don’t want to go out in public, but they also want the safety of nutritious food, and there is no better way to do it than growing your own,” said Ron Vanderhoff of Roger’s Gardens. CBS Sunday Morning.

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Poster published by the government encouraging Americans to cultivate war gardens, 1917.Smith / Gado CollectionGetty Images

The concept is not entirely new. During the First World War, Americans were encouraged to grow their own food in “war gardens” in the wake of the growing food crisis. Many agricultural workers were recruited into the army, which meant that there were not enough people to plant, fertilize and harvest the produce. In addition to this, the railways have reserved fewer cars for food shipments, so that more soldiers can be transported at any time.

Just before America went to war, Charles Lathrop Pack organized the National War Garden Commission to ensure that Americans could feed their families, the military and their allies throughout the war. Gardens began to appear in parks, school yards, fire exits, backyards and vacant lots, totaling more than five million new gardens in 1918. Together, the gardens, which were now lovingly called “victory gardens”, generated about 1.45 million liters of canned fruit and vegetables.

barbara hale water garden, gardens of victory 1945 second world war
Barbara Hale watered a communal garden established by the Chamber of Commerce in 1945.Hulton DeutschGetty Images

While some people maintained their gardens during the Depression era, the need for Victory Gardens returned during the Second World War. This time, however, the goal was different: Americans were encouraged to cultivate gardens, wherever they could find space, to practice self-sufficiency. “You can help win the battle for food production. You can help our fighters get the food they need. You can help save vital metals from canned food,” read a 1943 radio ad.

american propaganda poster showing a woman standing with a hoe and a basket of vegetables war gardens original title for the victory cultivating vitamins in your kitchen doorcolor poster, halftone with lithography stecher traung lithography corporationrochester new york usa 1942 gallery photo bilderweltgetty pictures
An American propaganda poster during the Second World War, 1942.Bilderwelt Gallery
food fights for victory, plant a victory garden poster
An American propaganda poster during the Second World War, 1942.swim ink 2 llc

Once food rationing was enacted in 1942, the Americans had another reason to try gardening. Eleanor Roosevelt even planted a victory garden on the White House lawn as a sign of solidarity. It is estimated that 20 million Victory Gardens appeared during the Second World War, producing more than 40% of the country’s fruits and vegetables.

In the past and present, Victory Gardens build morale, ease the burden on local farmers, and combat demands for food supplies. Similar to cleaning and cooking, maintaining a garden also relieves stress and anxiety, which peak at unprecedented times like this. “When we interact with green and outdoor environments, we tend to breathe more deeply and at a more regulated rate”, Monique Allen, author of Stop landscaping, start life, tell us. Ultimately, this “oxygenates the blood and releases endorphins, which are natural pain relievers and mood enhancers.”

And if you’re concerned that you’ve waited too long to create your own Victory Garden, here’s some good news: depending on where you live, The Old Farmer’s Almanac says you have until June 2 to plant most fruits and vegetables, especially seasonal produce like peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, and watermelons.

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