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What Are Climate Victory Gardens

Updated on October 7, 2022
Maren Morgan M-T profile image

Maren gardens in PA, specializing in earth-friendly, unconventional, creative, joyful artistry. She works for eco & climate health.

Cherry Tomatoes - Home Grown Food

Organically grown cherry tomatoes in a climate victory garden are waiting to ripen.
Organically grown cherry tomatoes in a climate victory garden are waiting to ripen. | Source

A "Climate Victory" Garden?

It's a new twist on something that worked very well in the past.

Victory Garden Quick History

The phrase “Victory Garden” was used in the United States from 1917 through 1945 to mean

(1) a home or public land food-producing garden created to positively contribute to winning a war, and

(2) which was maintained by a person who was not a farmer.

The concept was promoted by the U.S. government during World Wars I and II when less than one third of working Americans were farmers. (Until 1870, the majority of Americans lived on a farm, so food availability was not a national economic concern until the late eighteen hundreds.)

How Did Gardening Help the Two War Efforts?

In both wars the United States fought overseas with many other countries, the "Allies."

Nearly all American land (including territories) escaped damage during both those wars. However, significant portions of farmland of the Allied countries were destroyed. Their military and their citizens didn't have enough to eat. Sending U.S. military personnel to defend them would increase the number of people needing to be fed. This was a large problem.

In March 1917, a National War Garden Commission encouraged U.S. citizens to grow and eat their own produce in what were called “war gardens” and “food gardens for defense.” The rationale was that by having American citizens grow much of their own food, then the production by commercial farmers could be sent to:

  1. American military personnel abroad,
  2. The military of American Allies, and
  3. Starving citizens of the Allies.

The United States government didn’t want its own citizen population in an uproar over shortages, so it began the very sensible campaign of encouraging citizens to grow foods. (The U.S. food rationing program during World War II, heightened this awareness.).

As it turned out and is still true, homeowners can easily grow food.

Additional public relations benefits of Victory Gardens were creation of an emotional buy-in for the war by citizens and also fostering a feeling of contribution to helping. After each war ended, official encouragement and promotion gradually died away as other national issues gained attention.

Historic Victory Garden Poster

Now – The Climate Crisis Is The War

Today, a few decades into the 21st century, we are fighting a different war. This is a war against the consequences of centuries of bad habits which are leading to an unlivable earth. The highly developed countries have been piggy and short-sighted about energy use, destruction of ecosystems, waste and the long-term effects of global warming. This living style has hurt the entire earth’s climate – air and sea.

Scientists have been studying human disruption of natural cycles this deeply since the 1950s and earlier. Heroes sounding a warning that we humans must change our ways include Rachel Carson, Wangari Maathai, Paul Ehrlich, Bill McKibben, Vandana Shiva, Our Children’s Trust, Sonia Seneviratne, Katharine Hayhoe, and many more.

In the last few years, a new Victory Garden program - Climate Victory Gardens - has been created by Green America. Green America is a non-profit organization committed to growing a green economy to help humans and the earth.

What Exactly Are Climate Victory Gardens and How Are They Effective?

A Climate Victory Garden is the very same food garden grown for a family’s own consumption. Grow what you can. Grow what you like and will eat.

It's dubbed the Climate Victory Garden because if enough people plant them, we may be able to mitigate bad changes to climate and weather. At the very least, implementing such a garden will prevent further harm to the planet.

Phrases we’ve never heard about energy use and farming are now intertwined: sustainable food production, zero impact or zero carbon footprint, regenerative gardening, and permaculture.

Planting food for yourself and your family’s consumption helps environment in these ways:

  1. Plants inhale carbon dioxide which is a very bad greenhouse gas which is contributing to global warming. Plants also expire oxygen. We like that.
  2. You will make fewer car trips to buy food – reducing your fuel use – reducing the exhaust from burning of gasoline, which exhaust is full of carbon dioxide and again: which is a very bad greenhouse gas which is contributing to global warming.
  3. When less food is bought at grocery store – this reduces the amount of food being shipped – therefore the food shippers use less fuel – reducing the exhaust from burning of gasoline, which exhaust is full of carbon dioxide and again: which is a very bad greenhouse gas which is contributing to global warming.
  4. It’s likely that your plants add to the food and shelter of pollinators and other creatures in your local outdoor ecosystem. This is good. Even the United States military has worried (and then planned options) if pollinators were ever to die out. Your food garden supports the circle of life and hopefully supports diversity of species. Another plus. Famines (such as the Irish potato blight) can happen with monoculture gardening.

More Benefits Of A Victory Garden

  1. You use your body actively as you care for a garden. This activity which has physical, mental and spiritual health benefits.
  2. If you choose to refrain from toxic pesticides, you probably have healthier produce.
  3. It can be a learning experience for youngsters (and the rest) in your family and neighborhood.

Radishes Started Indoors

These radishes grow quickly from seed. I use seed starting potting soil.
These radishes grow quickly from seed. I use seed starting potting soil. | Source

Learn More

Here are suggested practices for having a Climate Victory Garden, but strict adherence to all is NOT the point.

Start a food garden – indoors in the winter, such as pictured, and outside if and when you can.

More information about the American World War victory gardens

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Maren Elizabeth Morgan


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