During World War II, Victory Gardens (home gardens) were planted by families in the United States to alleviate food shortages. More than one million tons of vegetables were grown in more than 20,000,000 home vegetable gardens during the war. These gardens produced about 40% of the nation’s food at this time with surplus during the summer being canned for use later in the year.
In New York City there were about 400,000 victory gardens on about 600 acres of private land producing 200 million pounds of food. Gardens grew up within the city in view of high rise buildings, and in the suburbs. Most popular vegetable grown as in other places were tomatoes, followed by beans, beets, carrots, lettuce, and Swiss chard. Victory gardens provided needed food and helped create small communities of people across the United States, and today community gardens and home gardens do the same. The image above is from the Library of Congress.
Food sufficiency for food grown in Massachusetts is estimated to be well below 10%, meaning we must import more than 90% of our food from other states and countries. At the Agricultural Learning Center (ALC) working with the Massachusetts State Grange we have established food gardens featuring vegetables and small fruit adjacent to the ALC pollinator gardens. Associated student gardens are a herb spiral, a food forest garden, and a Food for All Garden supplying food to the Survival Center and other places in need. These gardens demonstrate how we can collectively grow more local food. All these gardens including the Student Farm continue the early practice of learning by doing as is illustrated in the next photograph of students at 'Mass Aggie" harvesting cabbage.