Why you should plant a victory garden

March 18, 2020, 1:44 p.m.
freshly harvested vegetables
Photo: Morinka/Shutterstock

During both world wars, people back home planted victory gardens. By growing and harvesting their own vegetables, they put less of a strain on the government, which had to feed all the troops overseas. But it was so much more than a public relations move. By 1944, nearly 20 million victory gardens produced about 8 million tons of food, equaling about 40 percent of the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States at the time, according to History.

It was a way for everyday people to participate in a war on far-away shores, and it's an idea that still resonates with the threats we face today.

Green America says it's time to put on our gardening gloves once again and start tilling the soil. The environmental organization suggests we have the opportunity to use gardens "as a force for change" for the greater good. This particular organization is focused on fighting climate change, but this push to garden is a positive step no matter what enemy you're fighting.

Based on the success of victory gardens in World War II and population growth, the organization sees the potential for 40 million victory gardens.

Yes, that's a lot of gardens, but the goal is hardly unrealistic, Green America points out. According to the National Gardening Association, 42 million U.S. households are already growing food at home or in a community garden. With some new gardens and some changes to existing gardens, the U.S. could be awash in homegrown produce.

In addition to growing edible plants, Green America encourages composting, planting perennials, avoiding chemicals and keeping soils covered.

Todd Larsen, Green America's executive co-director of consumer and corporate engagement, says Americans want to take actions that have an impact. "They are also increasingly concerned about the chemicals on store-bought produce. Climate Victory Gardens gives us all a way to reduce our impact on the planet, while ensuring the food we feed our families is safe and nutritious," he said in a statement.

Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was first published in May 2018.