Victory Gardens Promoted by National WWII Museum

The National World War II Museum [www.NationalWW2Museum.org] in New Orleans is promoting an elementary school curriculum entitled the Classroom Victory Garden Project.  The museum has created a unique website [http://classroomvictorygarden.org/]  to promote its project “that includes an interdisciplinary curriculum taught through gardening, including social studies, literacy, math, science and art modules.”

During World War II, there were more than 20 million Victory Gardens planted in the United States.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture has estimated that 9-10 million tons of fruits and vegetables were harvested in home and community plots, “an amount equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables” [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victory_garden].  Victory Gardens, also called War Gardens, were also widely planted in Canada and Britain.

In addition to reducing the pressures on the public food supply brought on by the war effort, planting victory gardens represented a civil morale booster for home gardeners, who could share in the national effort to win the war against Nazi Germany and imperial Japan.  The entry in Wikipedia on the Victory Garden, referenced above, notes that Dowling Community Garden, a Victory Garden established in  Minneapolis, Minnesota, two blocks west of the Mississippi River, remains active more than sixty-five years later with over 190 plots and 250 gardeners: an awesome connection to the past [www.dowlingcommunitygarden.org/].  The Dowling Community Garden is a granddaddy in the growing movement of community gardens throughout North America [http://knowwhereyourfoodcomesfrom.com/gardening/community-gardens/].  The National WWII Museum’s Victory Garden Project also will help to reconnect Americans to their food supply, with the added benefit of some history lessons.

This elementary school program launched by the National World War II Museum is a variation on the inspiring Edible Schoolyard program [www.edibleschoolyard.org] established in 1995 by the Chez Panisse Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by chef and author, Alice Waters.  The one-acre garden first planted at the Martin Luther King Middle School on Rose Street in Berkeley, California in 1995 remains a thriving acre of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers.  The Edible Schoolyard program in Berkeley has hosted thousands of visitors each year, and the program now has a small network of Edible Schoolyard program across the country.

(FW Barrie, 7/7/11)

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