WWII Government-Endorsed Gardening
Government Endorsed Gardening reached its pinnacle during the FDR administration. Franklin Roosevelt continually told the home front population that food was an important resource in winning the war. He praised and encouraged the American citizenry to continue to grow victory gardens.
Food production was of the utmost concern to Franklin Roosevelt and his administration. FDR constructed a large portion of both his foreign and domestic policy around this idea. This is evident through the numerous amount of speeches he gave associated with and discussing the American food supply. During the Second World War, Roosevelt and his administrated implemented policies that were oriented to help farmers increase the food supply. However, large-scale farmers were not the only ones responsible for growing food. President Roosevelt made it the patriotic duty of all members of the home front to participate in supplying food. Citizens of the home front could fulfill this patriotic duty by growing their own victory garden. A victory garden is a vegetable garden that individuals, families, and communities grew in order to supplement the food supply, which was being rationed during the war. Growing a victory garden was completely voluntary; however, Franklin Roosevelt stressed the importance of growing food, and expected the American people to participate in the victory garden program.
Historians tend to overlook the role that victory gardens played in the war effort. When victory gardens are discussed, it is usually done in a few sentences to a brief paragraph and historians tend to view them mostly as a simple statistic. During the Second World War there were at least 20,000,000 victory gardens planted in the United States. The other way that historians include victory gardens in scholarly discussion is by connecting them to the canning process. However, by looking at victory gardens from a different perspective, it is evident that they were important for more than the number of gardens planted, and the pounds of food that the gardens produced. Instead, the World War II victory garden is important because of the ideology surrounding them. Since the days Thomas Jefferson’s presidency, the government has encouraged the population to grow gardens––to supply their own food, especially during times of conflict and crisis, because they represented democracy and independence. Franklin Roosevelt continued this tradition and expanded on this idea by making it the personal duty of every citizen to participate in gardening; there is a sense of freedom attached to victory gardens. The ideology surrounding victory gardens is the continuation of a legacy of what it means to be free and independent––the ability to personally grow food, according to the government’s perspective. Victory gardens also encapsulate the idea of patriotic feeling in doing something to help win the war, and tending a garden was easy enough that children could participate. Finally, because growing a victory garden was optional, it was viewed as something positive both during, and after the war. It was something that the home front population could do to help; it was not something that was forced upon them like rationing.
Franklin Roosevelt encouraged all sectors of the home front population to participate in growing their own food. The easiest way that they could do this was by growing their own victory gardens. FDR constantly praised the American people for their efforts in growing food to aid the war effort. His optimistic outlook and continual reinforcement of the need to build up the United States’ food supply helped to convince much of the population to participate in the voluntary victory garden program.
The collection of primary sources to the right is a sampling of the many speeches that Franklin Roosevelt gave to the American people, as well as Congress, in support of government-endorsed gardening. These speeches reflect the personal interest that Franklin Roosevelt took in having the home front population grow enough food to feed their families. Furthermore, the continual praise for those growing gardens, and the constant encouragement for others to join in and grow victory gardens, show that there was a major push for the home front to be participate in the victory garden project. The reason for this push is that FDR firmly believed that “Freedom From Want,” including freedom from want of food, was an essential pillar of democracy and that the United States was responsible for bringing that piece of democracy at home and abroad.
 President, Memoranda, “Memoranda on Combined Production and Resources Board and Combined Food Board,” Federal Register 63, (June 9, 1942): http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=16268&st=&st1
President, Letter, “Letter to the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture” Federal Register 53, (May 18, 1943): http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=16401&st=&st1=
President Address, “Address to the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture” Federal Register 58, (June 7, 1943): http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=16406&st=&st1
Executive Order no. 9280, Delegating Authority over the Food Program, (December 5, 1942): http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=60973&st=&st1
 The National WWII Museum: New Orleans. Accessed May 10, 2014. http://www.nationalww2museum.org/learn/education/for-students/ww2-history/at-a-glance/victory-gardens.html.
 Amy Bentley, Eating for Victory: Food Rationing and the Politics of Domesticity (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 114-141.
 President, Address, “Address on the Ninth Anniversary of the New Deal Farm Program” Federal Register 27, (March 9, 1942): http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=16228&st=&st1=
President, Proclamation, “Proclamation 2571 Thanksgiving Day,” Federal Register 134, (November 26, 1942): http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=16208&st=&st1=
President, Proclamation, “Proclamation 2600 Thanksgiving Day, 1943,” Federal Register (November 11, 1943): http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=72459&st=&st1=
President, Message, “Message to Congress on the Food Program,” Federal 125, (November 1, 1943): http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=16337&st=&st1=
President, Statement, “Statement encouraging victory gardens” Federal Register 28, (April 1, 1944): http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=16505&st=&st1=
President, Statement, “Statement on Food Conservation” Federal Register 8, (January 22, 1945): http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=16608&st=&st1=