In 1917 and then again in 1941, the Agriculture Department informed the American public if they wanted fresh fruits and vegetables, they would have to grow their own. With that edict, the concept of the Victory Garden was born and many people who did not know a trowel from a hoe began to garden. To aid in the effort, the War Garden Commission compiled instruction booklets which were distributed by the Department of Agriculture, International Harvester, and Beech-Nut.
From the efforts of individuals America was transformed. Over forty percent of all vegetables consumed nationally were produced from small scale gardens. Back yards, apartment building roof tops, and vacant lots became gardens and individuals felt they were contributing in a patriotic sense. From the World War II data, it was estimated these ‘Sunday farmers’ had created over 20 million victory gardens and added eight to ten million tons of food for consumption here at home.
With our country at war, rising gas prices, the loss of many retirement funds, and the word ‘recession’ being tossed about, perhaps now is the time for us to remember who we are! Even though we are a rural community and famous for our self sufficiency, many of the younger generation need to be encouraged. By growing food one may save money by not having to buy at inflated prices and be assured of quality. The message that will be sent is that in a time of recession we will find a better use of our time and efforts than shopping! Resourceful hard work and voluntary simplicity are our honored traditions and must not be lost.