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The War Garden Victorious


 

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CHAPTER XI

WAR GARDENS AS CITY ASSETS
A Thing of Beauty Is A Joy Forever

Every city aims to be as prosperous and progressive as possible and nowadays most people realize that the city beautiful is also likely to be the city commercially worth while. Probably no other one enterprise will add more to a city's beauty than gardening. Gardening, therefore, has double value. It both enriches and beautifies. By the same token it develops civic pride and community spirit.
    For these reasons any community should delight in being called a "garden city," whether the name is applied literally or merely in a figurative sense. One result of the war-garden movement is that practically any American community can truthfully be designated by this term.
    It is fortunate indeed that this is true. Unity of thought, of action, of ideals, is the crying need of the hour in America. United, we stand; divided, we fall. Probably nothing is more potent as a factor for building up community spirit than gardening, particularly community gardening. A link to bind men together is gardening. It creates common interests. It unites all hands in the common end of producing food. Rubbing elbows in their garden patches, lawyers and laborers, tradesmen and housewives, speedily discover that they have much in common. One of the things they have in common is their interest in their community; for each wishes to see it progress.

    If the democracy of a nation depends upon the democracy of the individuals who compose that nation, then assuredly the war garden is a forge that is daily strengthening the links in our chain of democracy. Our soldiers, shoulder to shoulder in the trenches, learned, that, whatever their respective stations in life, they are brothers. In heat a little less intense, but none the less sufficient to weld the strongest souls, our gardeners, too, have fused into a solid unit. Link by link the chain of our democracy has grown stronger.
    With it has grown our civic pride–the pride of each community in the progress it is making. One of the progressive things cities are proud of to-day is the extent of their war-garden activities. Just as different communities aimed to be the first "over the top" in a Liberty Loan campaign, and to secure the flag which spoke of patriotic duty performed, so they have been anxious to excel in the number of war gardens they have planted and in the amount of food they have raised to help the boys "over there."
    The National War Garden Commission has received from hundreds of cities and towns throughout the United States expressions showing how proud they are of their war-garden records. Typical items of this enthusiasm are these: "Every bit of available land is being cultivated;" "There is scarcely a home here without a war garden;" "All back yards and vacant lots are being planted;" " We believe we have the best war gardens in the United States." Each city wanted to make a record in food production. It is through rivalry of this sort that cities progress.

    War gardening, again, is an asset to any city in that it adds to that city's material wealth. All food grown adds just so much to a city's wealth. In the first place gardening gives the individual more money. By planting a home garden he reduces his own expenses, saving many dollars on his market and grocery bills. Whether he saves and invests this money in some local enterprise, or spends it for necessities or even luxuries, the community benefits. The money goes into houses and lots, into automobiles, books, furniture, pianos, clothing, into everything, in fact, that modern man needs for his comfort and happiness. Thus while he is helping himself, he is also helping the merchants and the tradesmen of the city. He is adding to his own and the community's resources.
    The financial gain to a city from the war-gardening enterprise is strikingly revealed by figures on the amount of produce raised. A few cases will be illustrative. For instance, Indianapolis estimated the value of its war-garden crop in 1918 at $1,473,165, an increase of more than $600,000 over the previous year. Denver placed its yield at $2,500,000 and Los Angeles at $1,000,000. The figures for a few other cities were as follows: Minneapolis, $1,750,000; Washington, District of Columbia, $1,396,5000; Grand Rapids, Michigan, $900,000; Salt Lake City, Utah, $750,000; Louisville, Kentucky, $750,000; Worcester, Massachusetts, $750,000; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, $500,000; Dallas, Texas, $300,000; Scranton, Pennsylvania, $450,000; Rochester, New York, $350,000; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, $250,000; Burlington, Iowa, $250,000; Newark, New Jersey, $160,000; New Orleans, Louisiana, $125,000; Atlanta, Georgia, $100,000.

MIDST TOWERING SKYSCRAPERSMIDST TOWERING SKYSCRAPERS
In Bryant Park, New York, in the heart of the nation's throbbing metropolis, there was planted a demonstration war garden, and a little garden house was erected which served as a distributing center for literature of the National War Garden Commission. Formal ceremonies were held at the time of the dedication of the building.

    Another gain which comes to a city from war gardening is the improvement in the appearance of the place; and added beauty means added worth. The poet who sang that "a thing of beauty is a joy forever" might have written with equal truthfulness–although, of course, we do not expect the minds of poets to run in such practical and commercial channels–that it is also a "thing of value forever." In the long run those improvements which add to the beauty of a city or community add also to its material prosperity and to its civic progress.
    For this reason chambers of commerce and other trade organizations do good service for their communities when they urge the cleaning-up of all vacant lots and open spaces and their conversion into gardens. Travelers have noted how much better many towns looked during the past year or two because of the fact that most of the back yards "fronting" on the railroad tracks have been improved into clean, well-kept vegetable plots. The average back yard is bare of flowers, as these are reserved for the place of honor in front of the house; and so a vegetable garden in the space at the rear is highly to be commended as an attraction to the place. A person renting or buying a piece of property which displays a healthy and prosperous-looking garden is immediately put into a more favorable frame of mind by the sight of this growing food and is willing to pay more for the place.

    As to the vacant lots which straggled and scrambled along many city streets before the days of war gardens, nothing more than a mere statement of fact is necessary to convince any one that the removal of these "sore spots" is advantageous in many ways. These barren lands, with their unsightly briars and weeds, their ugly ash-heaps and piles of litter, detracted not only from the appearance but from the commercial value of all the surrounding property.
    In hundreds of cases it was not realized until an actual enumeration was made, how many acres of such unused land there were in a city. There was scarcely a town of any size which did not contain a total of hundreds of acres of such idle, useless land. With little effort these unsightly lots can be converted into rich gardens to help feed the city and the nation. To clean up all such places, therefore, and to put them to profitable use, is a standing advertisement for the city. Furthermore, the example of one city leads to a duplication of the good work elsewhere and an effort to improve on it. Thus the gain of one is the gain of all. The city benefits, the state benefits, the nation benefits.

    Cleveland surpassed itself in war gardening. As a result of the very active campaign conducted there under the auspices of the war garden committee, a sub-committee of the mayor's advisory war committee, 40,000 war gardens were planted in 1918. The city had set out to make it 25,000 but went far beyond this figure. George A. Schneider, chairman of the committee, mapped out a broad and comprehensive campaign which resulted in a splendid record. Carl F. Knirk, garden director, was untiring in his efforts to make the work a complete success. A survey was made of every vacant lot in the city and its suburbs, with high-school boys aiding in this collection of data in their respective districts. Six paid instructors were engaged and each placed in charge of a certain district. Three tractor plows prepared the ground in the larger tracts.
    Other agencies coöperated in the movement. These included women's clubs, schools, business houses, and manufacturing concerns. Western Reserve University introduced a course in home gardening and it was opened to some of the garden clubs and women interested in the work. Many of the industrial plants provided land for their employés and hundreds of fine gardens were the result. The companies also encouraged their men in the conservation of their garden products. Thousands of the commission's war vegetable gardening and canning and drying books were distributed to the city's home food growers through the Cleveland Public Library and the Cleveland Public Schools and through the Cleveland Trust company, the Citizens Savings and Trust company, the Superior Savings and Trust company, the Guardian Savings and Trust company, and other public-spirited institutions.

    Even a beautiful city park system loses none of its charm when a part of it is turned to utilitarian purposes. Historic Boston Common was none the less attractive to the passer-by during the season of 1918 because a fine demonstration war garden was growing at one side of it. Even when the necessities of war do not make it such an important and desirable prospect, a trim, and well-cultivated series of vegetable plots such as displayed their patriotic beauty there, would not detract from the natural beauty of the landscape.
    Potomac Park, in the shadow of the tall and stately Washington Monument, was a constant source of pleasure to the thousands of automobilists who sped along the river driveway. In the afternoon and twilight the sight of hundreds of war gardeners cultivating their vegetable patches in sight of the White House and the majestic dome of the Capitol was a picture never to be forgotten. Down at the lower end of the Chesapeake Bay near where busy transports were loading their precious human freight and their supplies for France, the Commission on Beautifying the City of Norfolk took charge of the war-garden campaign and conducted it to a successful conclusion, adding more than $200,000 worth of vegetables to the food wealth of that rich truck-growing section of the country.
    In New York City an extremely interesting war garden was growing in Bryant Park. There in the heart of the great metropolis, shaded by over-towering sky-scrapers and beside the majestic public library, a small war garden spoke its message to the world. This demonstration plot was under the direction of A.N. Gitterman, chairman of the war garden committee of the Department of Parks for the Borough of Manhattan. The little garden-house which stood there was dedicated in the spring of 1918, and from this center were distributed large quantities of the National War Garden Commission's books and other literature to help the "city farmers" of Greater New York. The work of this garden, like that of the millions of other war gardens throughout the country, was helping to keep the light burning on the Statue of Liberty at the entrance of this great harbor of a free country.

War Garden on Boston CommonWAR GARDEN ON BOSTON COMMON
There were hundreds of visitors daily at this fine demonstration garden and the adjoining food cottages, and the result was partly shown by the fact that there were more than 30,000 war gardens in Boston in 1918. In this series of gardens on "The Common" there were thirty-five varieties of vegetables, practically everything except corn being included. Miss Anna Biddle Frismouth with several assistants was in charge of the gardens for the Women's City Club.

    In his report at the end of the season to William F. Grell, Park Commissioner of the Borough of Manhattan, Mr. Gitterman said:

    We maintained two demonstration gardens, one at Union Square, Fourteenth Street and Broadway, and the other at Bryant Park, Forty-Second Street and Sixth Avenue, where headquarters are maintained in a model garden-house which was donated to the city by the National War Garden Commission of Washington. This garden has been a great success from its dedication when President Pack turned the first spade of earth in this most valuable garden-plot in the world.
    Intensive gardening was here profitably demonstrated as is shown by the results achieved in the limited area allotted to each variety. Small blackboards explained each operation in the little garden when the supervisor was working, planting, weeding, cultivating, thinning, spraying, or picking. In addition, information in detail was given on the special bulletin-board concerning insects and their control, weeds and their relation to agriculture, spraying formulæ, seed varieties, plant diseases, and other garden data of interest to the war gardener.

    In the Borough of Manhattan there was an increase, according to the report, of seventy per cent. in the war-gardening activities of 1918 as compared with the year preceding. In 1919 it is expected that every available vacant lot will be planted.
    More than one hundred and sixty loads of manure were furnished during the season of 1918 and delivered to the gardens from the various riding academies near Central Park.
    The demonstration garden in Union Square had soil but a foot in depth over the subway roof and this served to impress upon the minds of pessimistic owners of vacant land the value of cultivation even under a handicap, as the results obtained from this one foot of soil were considerable.
    A constant stream of visitors recorded their names and addresses in the guest-book at the little garden-house in Bryant Park. People from almost every city in the United States and a great number from European countries inspected the place.
    Cities, as well as individuals, can entertain angels unaware, and many a community that encouraged war gardening purely as a patriotic measure, has found that city farming is a paying as well as a patriotic activity. Bread cast upon the waters, in the form of gardening efforts to help a famishing world, has returned after many days as a rich reward in increased civic wealth and betterment. Decidedly, war gardens are an asset to any city.

"County Fair" in Bryant Park"COUNTY FAIR" IN BRYANT PARK
An exhibition of canned products was held in the war garden on Forty-second street, New York, and eleven of the Commission's National Capitol Prize Certificates were awarded to prize-winners in the various subdivisions of Manhattan. These were presented by President Charles Lathrop Pack, the blue ribbon going to Mrs. I.C. Kahn, at left of table decoration.

 

 

CONTENTS

 

Title

I.

How the National War Garden Commission Came into Being

II.

The Story of the War Garden

III.

How War Gardens Helped

IV.

Types of War Gardens

V.

Uncle Sam's First War Garden

VI.

How Big Business Helped

VII.

How the Railroads Helped

VIII.

The Army of School Gardeners

IX.

Community Gardening

X.

Cooperation in Gardening

XI.

War Gardens as City Assets

XII.

The Part Played by Daylight Saving

XIII.

The Future of War Gardening

XIV.

Conserving the Garden Surplus

XV.

Community Conservation

XVI.

Conservation by Drying

XVII.

Why We Should Use Dried Foods

XVIII.

The Future of Dehydration

XIX.

Cooperation of the Press
  Chapter 19 - Cartoon Illustrations
   
 

APPENDIX

  "War Gardening,"
Victory Edition, 1919
INDEX
Cover / Letters / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 21 / 22 / 23 / 24 / 25 / 26 / 27 / 28 / 29 / 30 / 31 / 32
More Letters / Back

 
  "Home Canning and Drying," Victory Edition, 1919
INDEX
Cover / Letters / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10 / 11 / 12 / 13 / 14 / 15 / 16 / 17 / 18 / 19 / 20 / 21 / 22 / 23 / 24 / 25 / 26 / 27 / 28 / 29 / 30 / 31 / 32
More Letters / Back
 
 


Color Plates

  Sow the Seeds of Victory - Every Garden a Munition PlantWILL YOU HAVE A PART IN VICTORY?

"Every Garden a Munition Plant"

James Montgomery Flagg


  War Garden Victorious Poster - War Gardens Over The TopA Poster Spreading the Idea of Militant War Gardens

Maginel Wright Enright


  War Garden Victorious Poster - Every Garden a Peace PlantA Poster for 1919, Symbolic of Victory

Maginel Wright Enright


  War Garden Victorious Poster - Can Vegetables, Fruits and the Kaiser tooCAN VEGETABLES, FRUIT AND THE KAISER TOO

J. Paul Verrees

A Poster Which Was Used in 1918, and Which, Amended–Following Germany's Defeat–Was Also Forceful in 1919

   
 

OTHER POSTERS

  We can can vegetables, fruti and the Kaiser too We can can Vegetables Fruit and the Kaiser too