The statement rings just as true today as when it appeared in the “County Gentleman” of January, 1941; before America entered the War and began the drive for “Victory Gardens.”
The Victory Gardens idea was actually a remnant of WWI. In 1917, the government encouraged Americans to start “War Gardens” to help feed their families and US troops. By the end of the war, Americans had begun over 3 million gardens and grown over $525,000,000 (in 1918 dollars) worth of produce .
By the time WWII came around, several advances had been made with plants, tools, and fertilizers, making the idea of gardening much more appealing, even for those who had little gardening knowledge. By 1943, school, home, and community gardens produced 40% of America’s fresh fruits and vegetables.
We have come full circle with the idea of “Modern Day Victory Gardens.” First Lady Michelle Obama began a garden in the yard of the White House last year — the first full scale garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt’s own Victory Garden during WWII.
Ms. Obama uses the garden as a platform to educate children, as well as adults, about eating healthy, nutritious, and locally grown produce at a time when obesity and diabetes have become a national concern. She has recruited local Washington DC schoolchildren to help care for the garden and experience the fruits of their labors.
The First Lady’s example is one reason that gardening is becoming attractive to a whole new group of people. Many more people are considering trying their hand at a gardening this year, due in part to Obama’s example. Even the Food Network got in on the game and had an “Iron Chef America” episode bring the competition to the White House. The chefs were allowed to make recipes featuring anything they could find in the garden. She also appeared on Sesame Street to help Elmo and the other muppets plant seeds and encourage the children watching to eat their veggies.
Eating healthfully in America is a challenge today. Many Americans argue that making healthy meals is too expensive. It’s easier and quicker to buy fast food, or the processed food in they find supermarkets. Besides, they say, they simply don’t have the time to prepare meals from scratch.
It is true: healthy eating can cost more, and it takes planning and work. But having your own garden is a big help. It can be quite inexpensive and yield very high rewards. Also, the process of gardening can become a whole-family activity. Children and adults alike will appreciate the hard work they put into getting their delicious fruits and vegetables.
Many people have been concerned about eating “locally grown” foods, wherever they live — how much more local can you get then your own yard? Gardening also provides the benefits of exercise, fresh air, and sunlight while caring for the garden, as well as stress relief. In our high-tech, constantly busy society, the hours spent in the garden are good, quality-quiet time, both for body and mind.
If you are a First Time Gardener but have no idea where to begin, the Post wants to help. Over the next few months, we will offer a series of articles to help people begin gardening. We hope you’ll find these articles valuable to get a garden rolling in your own yard, window-box, or community.
Food preservation, storage, and canning will be covered, as well as tasty recipes that allow the gardener to enjoy the season’s worth of work all year long!
Bookmark www.thesaturdayeveningpost.com and follow along as we explore this topic in detail.