Dig for Victory
To get to today's urban gardens, let's go back in time to the founding of the US, there were certainly major cities Philadelphia New York Boston, but it wasn't. Until the eighteen hundreds that more and more people move to cities and urban ization in the US really got underway. These are people who would have grown almost all their own food before, but now they live in a city. They can buy food at the market. So how many of them kept up gardening in their new urban homes? A lot of food production went on. On within city boundaries well through the start of the twentieth century, there were lots and lots of urban livestock, because people were raising pigs and cows and chicken for food within city limits anesthesia day as a historian at the University of Delaware, and she's working on a PhD about Victory Gardens. It's only really during the city, Beautiful Movement and the progressive era that city start passing ordinances that actually outlawed these forms of local food production in the name of cleanliness and sanitation and middle-class standards of respectability, because only poor people grow their. Their own food. The city beautiful movement was big deal during the eighteen nineteen in one thousand, nine hundred wealthy urbanites, all this rural migration and immigration, and of course, the rising inequality and poverty and tenements in their cities, and they were not happy. They tried to clean the city up. They built big boulevards and parks with monumental fountains, and eventually they also introduced strict zoning laws and chickens and vegetable patches were not part of these new beautiful cities urban agriculture. Something poor people needed. It had to go some cities overtime had already. Already banned maybe the animals in the streets, or even keeping certain animals within city limits, but this really solidified during the city, beautiful movement city started to enact ordinances that said no farm animals in the city at all and no front yard vegetables, either meanwhile the poor had more pressing concerns than how the city looked frequently, when bad harvests and economic fluctuations raised food prices, they could not get to eat. There were dozens of major food riots in American cities throughout the eighteen hundreds. The first urban gardening movement starts in eighteen ninety. Ninety three in the town of Detroit, because of this panic of eighteen, ninety three, there were lots of panics. In those days, the stock market was very new, very volatile and long story short, suddenly, basically overnight, forty three percent of detroiters are unemployed in what had been a booming city and the Mayor Hazel S Pingree I has to find some way to answer. The cries of his constituents. So what he does is, he starts the first urban farming movement, which is ironically happening at the same time that many productive activities within the. The city are being outlawed. In other cities, urban leaders didn't want farms in their cities, but they also didn't want riots, and so letting poor people groza food on vacant land was seen as an acceptable temporary band aid in times of shortages. The Detroit plan was called the potato, patch plan and it had pretty impressive results by eighteen, ninety, six seventeen hundred families were farming more than four hundred acres in the city, and there are letters there from local detroiters writing into mayor Pingree, saying you so much I was able to grow. Grow Food for my family and lots of the people that wrote in. It's heartbreaking, because these letters are hardly legible there in broken English. Many of them were recent, German and Polish immigrants who were taking advantage of this program to grow foods dot connected them to their home as well as to feed their families. The Potato Patch program was seen as a success, but it was never meant to be permanent in less than a decade when economic situation in Detroit started to improve urban farms kind of petered out until the next big. Big Crisis, which was World War, one, the city beautiful movement had stamped out urban gardening the Detroit potato patches were gone, but suddenly there was a huge need both for food, and for kind of coming together in a patriotic sense. At least that's how Charles lay through peck sought. He was a lumber baron from New Jersey and early on in the days of the European conflict. He wrote the US government and said people should be reason. Food would help them contribute to the war help stock shortages, and the USDA promptly said Sir. We've got better ideas going here for better uses of fertilizer and seed supplies so thanks for your input and no thanks Charles hadn't made his fortune by taking no for an answer, so he took that Fortuna and started a Liberty Garden Movement himself, and he quickly found a whole group of rich people who wanted to join him in getting Americans. Gardening again to support the war Charles and his friends created a movement. There were Liberty Gardens. Gardens on Boston Common, and in Union Square in New York and big corporations like Eastman Kodak and General Electric set aside land at their factories for employees to grow and boy scouts even had a garden at Grover Cleveland's Childhood Home in New Jersey. Even the government caught the Liberty Garden fever, and they created a school program to teach budding young home farmers how to grow food and support. The soldiers was actually one of the first nationally. Nationally promoted curricula in the country, the Liberty Garden Movement seemed to really catch the public imagination. However, there was no infrastructure for collecting numbers. The only source we have is Charles Lathrop pack himself wrote a book called the war garden victorious in one, thousand, nine, hundred nineteen, and he claims that the movements sponsored five million gardens which time when there were just over six million actual professional farmers in the US is kind of impressive but remember. Remember Charles is our only source for this number and he might have been biased. It's really incredibly hard to say, but despite its holds on the national imagination, it had nowhere near the impact of world. War Two Gardens in terms at share mount of produce ground, sheer numbers of people participating sheer difference it made in the global war effort, and that's probably why you listeners at least in the US you don't use the Term Liberty Garden. Gardens you probably say victory garden.