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Post-WWII Victory Gardens in Popular Culture

            Since the end of the Second World War, there have been a number of non-traditional types of historical sources that have been used to preserve and document the memory the victory garden. One way that the legacy of the victory garden continues to be remembered in the present day is through sound. The use of music or sound to remember a story or events from the past is deeply rooted in human history. Some of the original records of history,[1] that historians can access today, are still around because these historical accounts were preserved through music and were therefore easily remembered and passed on from one generation to the next.[2] Although there has been a shift away from the oral tradition of memory to written documentation, oral memory has not vanished all together, and it continues to be a way to record important experiences. The term victory garden is connected to quite a few of these audible sources, including: contemporary songs, band names, and album titles. This demonstrates a continuity in history, that important events are commemorated and preserved through sound. Even though the songs and bands are not specifically discussing gardening strategies or the World War II victory garden specifically, they did choose to adopt the name and in doing so they are reviving the memory of the WWII victory garden.[3] By using the name victory garden theses musicians are continuing the memory of the WWII victory garden and bringing recognition to an important historical event. These bands are preserving the name Victory Garden in present day and in doing so; they call attention to the origin of the name, thus highlighting the importance of the World War II victory garden. 

            Music is not the only way that victory gardens are remembered through sound in the present day. Since the 1970s there has been a television show, and for the last decade a podcast, titled “The Victory Garden”. This show provides advice and instruction on how to grow a proper garden.[4] The show and podcast continue the trend of government-endorsed gardening because the way that it provides information, via public broadcast, and the type of information being presented to the public, has similar content and uses comparable techniques to the way that information was presented to the public during the Second World War. Even though the WWII victory garden program inspired the “Victory Garden” television show and podcast, the producers of the show have a less propaganda-oriented view of gardening, and instead present a more inviting-endorsement of gardening. The television show and podcast provide “how-to”, gardening as a hobby advice, rather than “you-must”, gardening as a duty instruction that occurred during WWII.

            Government-endorsed gardening is based on a partnership between the government and the civilian population. The first member of the relationship is the government that implements the policy, but in order for the policy to be put into action, they American public has to be willing to accept it. Much of this site has been focused on the government side of implementing the victory garden policy, however, the people, or social side, should also be acknowledged. One way to analyze the social acceptance of a government policy is by examining the types of posts displayed on social media websites. Two posts reflect popular culture interest towards government-endorsed. The first is a photo that shows support for Michelle Obama’s school garden policy; it is a photograph of children being instructed about how to garden with the words “Share This If Your Think Every School Should Have a Garden” boldly printed across the top and bottom of the photograph.[5] After ten hours of being posted on a social media website, the image had been shared 266 times and had receive 525 likes. This demonstrates popular support of the idea of the policy of placing gardens in public schools. This image posted on social media supports the idea of having the gardening policy being implanted into the public education system and attempts to recruit others to support the cause. Public awareness and acceptance can then be spread through the social media websites and the reposting of the photo. By posting of images which discussing government-endorsed gardening policies, it shows public engagement and highlights the role that the people play when it comes to implementing the policy of government-endorsed gardening.

            The second image is less serious and less obvious when it comes to showing support for the policy of government-endorsed gardening. However, it does employ some of strategies that were used during the Second World War to propagate growing a garden to the public. The World War II cartoon Brownie’s Victory Garden has a playful approach about gardening.[6] Similarly, there is a humorous piece of American made fan-art that was posted and circulated on social media, titled “Cucumberbatch”, which plays on the actors name: Benedict Cumberbatch.[7] In this piece of fan art, Benedict Cumberbatch’s head was photo shopped onto the body of an individual who legitimately tends a vegetable garden. While the original purpose of this image was to make a joke about the actor’s name, there is an important point to make about this image. Although unconsciously done, this piece of fan art is a reflection of Franklin Roosevelt’s vision for what a victory garden was supposed to be. First and foremost, victory gardens were being produced to grow food. This goal is expressed through the cucumber. Second, Franklin Roosevelt wanted the population to grow their own food so that the food grown on larger farm gardens could be sent to American soldiers, and to United States’ allies, including Great Britain. In addition to Franklin Roosevelt’s goal, the film Wartime Nutrition (1943) also references the British and compares their diet, and rationing hardship to that of America’s home front.[8]  The fact that Benedict Cumberbatch is a British actor symbolizes the allied relationship and the nutritional comparison between the two countries that occurred during World War II.[9] Finally, victory gardens were a public, social program where individuals and communities were supposed to share the things that they produced with one another. This image was posted on social media and like the vegetables that were grown in victory gardens, was shared with the community.




Exhibit 1. The Time of the Garden: Government-Endorsed Gardening Past and Present

WWII Government-Endorsed Gardening

Post-WWII Government-Endorsed Gardening


Exhibit 2. Victory of the Garden: Selling and Remembering the WWII Victory Garden

WWII Propaganda Posters

Post-WWII Children’s Literature



[1] Such as the literary account of Beowulf, The Iliad, and The Odyssey and other epic poems that record the legends and histories of a culture’s past.

[2] Dr. Kyle Griffith, History 201- World Civilizations to 1500-Lecture, Fall 2007
Dr. Patricia Price, Literature 208A- World Literature: Antiquity to the 16th Century- Lecture, Spring 2009
Dr. Patricia Price Literature 308A- English Literature I, Fall 2011
Dr. Daryl Engen, History 310A- Ancient Greece 1: The Bronze Age to the End of the Persian Wars-Lecture, Fall 2010

[3] Bill Mallonee & Victory Garden, Victory Gardens, CD, 2013
Band Number Eight, Victory Garden, CD, 2005
John & Mary, Victory Garden, CD, 1991
Laura Barrett, Victory Garden, CD, 2009
Victory Garden, What’s Left Behind, CD, 2011

[4] Jamie Durie, The Victory Garden, Podcast, PBS, WGBH Boston, 2010.

[5] REALfarmacy, Share This If You Think Every School Should Have a Garden: Grow Food Not Lawns, 2014 Real

[6] Official Films, Inc. Brownie’s Victory Garden, 1939-1945, Prelinger Archive

[7] Fan Art, Cucumberbatch, 2014, Social Media

[8] U.S. Office of War Information, Wartime Nutrition (1943), 1943, Prelinger Archive

[9] President, Memoranda, “Memoranda on Combined Production and Resources Board and Combined Food Board,” Federal Register 63, (June 9, 1942):

President, Letter, “Letter to the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture” Federal Register 53, (May 18, 1943):

President Address, “Address to the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture” Federal Register 58, (June 7, 1943):

Executive Order  no. 9280,  Delegating Authority over the Food Program, (December 5, 1942):


Recollections Through Popular Culture
Post-WWII Victory Gardens in Popular Culture