Victory gardens are fruit and vegetable gardens grown by the public both at home and in a community setting. In a war, much like in a pandemic, huge pressure is put on the food supply and planting food crops wherever possible is the simplest solution to ease that pressure. Also known as a war garden, victory gardening was introduced in Canada and the states during World War I as a means to supplement rationing, boost morale, and include large sectors of the public that may have previously felt helpless to the war effort. With the flood of bad news pouring in from abroad it could be quite difficult to look forward to the future, planting and maintaining these gardens gave millions of people a boost in morale and a sense of accomplishment and contribution to their nation’s ongoing conflict.
With Covid-19 becoming a pandemic most countries have found themselves ill equipped to deal with sustaining the food supply network. This is partially due to new social distancing measures as well as a fair degree of panic buying. All of this and a growing uncertainty concerning the future has led to a surge in interest in growing your own food crops and gardening in general. A lot of websites in our little corner of the internet are struggling to keep up with an increased demand in seeds, plants, and everything grow your own.
The victory garden really came into it’s own during the second world war, patriotism and a communal appetite for contributing led to an uptick in private lawns and gardens being turned over to growing food crops. This effort didn’t just end at private residences, Community gardens were started and tended by entire communities and the number of allotments in Britain doubled. Empty lots and unused greenery were commandeered and duly readied for planting and football fields and school areas were turned over to local farmers to graze their animals on.
About 40% of all fresh vegetables produced in the UK during WWII was grown in victory gardens, this helped the economy rebound and helped get fresh and healthy food to the public far quicker than waiting for regular supplies to return. This sense of community and purpose may seem purely nostalgic in the face of a growing pandemic and with isolation measures in place world wide but I like to think that it can return. I mentioned the explosion in home gardening over the past month and I truly think we can keep the momentum up and help our families and communities get back to normal, or as close to it as we can get.
Our food supply has not failed us as yet, and I don’t mean to imply that it will. Like our frontline staff and essential workers they are working harder than ever and proving themselves worthy of our recognition and thanks. When a visit to the supermarket for a few groceries makes me nervous, I know it’s time to find a way around it. Luckily I have a garden in relatively good shape with my veg already put in. For those that haven’t yet, a vegetable garden is very easy to start and we have plenty of pointers over on our Getting Started page.
Growing plants for food in times of trouble is nothing new and through experience and repitition I think we, as a people, have become deft at growing better crops, faster. A corona victory garden can at the least remove some of the uncertainty caused by fast emptying supermarket shelves and, at it’s best can bring us together when this is all over and we emerge blinking from our homes. I just hope the weather remains as pleasant as it has been throughout all this.
Some of us (me included) have found ourselves with plenty of spare time, perhaps it is just more noticeable with what is going on outside. Tending a garden is a highly productive way to spend some of these extra hours we find ourselves with during this crisis. We have a lot of articles and information on our blog and site about how to set about growing your own fruit and vegetables and how to tend them every step of the way. My garden is my happy place and I find myself lost in the soil with my mind a million miles away on an all to regular basis.
I remember an old sign my grandparents had hanging up in the shed many years ago, it read: “grow vegetables for the body and flowers for the soul”. Flower and ornamental gardening is something we have jumped into in the last year, and we, as well as many of you, are really enjoying it. There really is nothing like the anticipation a freshly planted garden instills and then the reward of seeing your hard work pay off with a colourful display of flowers and shrubs or seeing those first little fruits and vegetables appearing. That little sign pops into my head quite frequently when I’m out in the garden and I can definitely see why Victory gardens were designed to boost morale.