THE FUTURE OF WAR GARDENING
The Fruits of Peace to Spring from the Seeds of Victory
Coming events, we are
told, cast their shadows before. Among the prophetic shadows now hovering over
us is a finger of cloud which points to vital changes in the business of feeding
the world. Indeed, these changes are already taking place. In part they have
taken place, but many of us, being of those who have eyes yet do not see, are
still unaware that the old order has changed and that the new order of things
has come to pass.
No other single occupation born of the war has affected a
greater number of people than has gardening. Starting from a mere nothing before
the United States entered the war, this form of service grew in less than two
years into a new occupation, which numbered its followers by the millions and,
in the number of people employed, exceeded any other branch of gainful
occupation with the single exception of actual farming.
The fact that such a vast number of American citizens took up
this work shows that they appreciated the merit of it, and this is one of the
reasons for the confident prediction that war gardening has come to stay. It is
something that the world will not willingly let die. Home food production will
continue because it has been found worth while; and, like other things which
this war has demonstrated to be of value and benefit to mankind, it will last.
War gardening will permanently establish itself because
its peace-time value will fully equal its war-time worth. This will be true at
all times, but more particularly during the first five or ten years of the great
reconstruction period. During that period the matter of food production will be
of the most pressing importance. It will be on a par with many of the other
enormous reconstruction problems which face the world. It will require the
continued application of broad thought and effort. There will be no decrease in
the demand for food; in fact that demand will really be greater, much greater,
than it was during the days of actual conflict.
This will be true because the coming of peace means the
restoration of the freedom of the seas, and freedom of the seas means a restored
commerce. German savagery and the frightfulness of unrestrained submarine
warfare have largely driven the world's ordinary commerce from the seas; and
much of that commerce was traffic in foodstuffs. For decades, even centuries,
Europe has been dependent upon the remainder of the world for food to eke out
its own inadequate supplies. Before the war, for example, England, according to
the united States Food Administration, produced but one-fifth of her own
foodstuffs, while France raised one-half of hers, and Italy produced perhaps
two-thirds of what she consumed. What was true of these nations was true of the
remainder of Europe. Unless food could be obtained from foreign sources, hunger
was sure to visit practically every European nation. The shutting off of
commerce by German piracy has meant starvation, literal starvation, to
multitudes of innocent persons.
CANNING TEAM IN IOWA
Under the supervision of skilled home demonstration agents of the United States
Department of Agriculture, and other teachers, many groups of girls throughout
the country have made excellent records in conserving garden products. Here are
shown Miss Julia E. Brekke, home demonstration agent, and the canning team which
won first prize at the Clinton County Fair at De Witt, Iowa.
The restoration of commerce means that all these starving
nations will send their ships to America for food, food, and still more food.
The number of these innocent neutral victims of German savagery is put by the
United States Food Administration at 180,000,000 persons! Russia, too, is
disorganized and starving, and her population numbers 160,000,000!
If figures never lie, the burden we must carry in time of
peace, as indicated by statistics, is truly appalling. When war began we were
feeding our own 100,000,000 people and sending abroad a relatively small and
constantly decreasing surplus. To our 100,000,000 we had to add the 120,000,000
people of the Entente allied nations. Speedily we found that our claim that
America was "the granary of the world" was an empty boast. Merely to provide
food sufficient to enable our allies to eke out their own stores taxed us to the
utmost. Only through decreased consumption, by having recourse to wheatless and
meatless days, by lessening our use of butter, milk, sugar, and other exportable
food could we send enough to keep our allies from actual starvation.
During the three years preceding the war, our exports of
meat were just short of an average of 500,000,000 pounds a year. In 1917 we
shipped abroad 2,000,000,000 pounds末an increase of 400 per cent. In the same
way our exports of butter in 1913 totaled slightly more than 3,500,000 pounds.
In 1917 we exported, in round numbers, 26,750,000 pounds. Before the war our
shipments of cheese averaged 2,500,000 pounds. In 1917 they exceeded 66,000,000
pounds. Our exportation of condensed milk jumped from 16,500,000 pounds to
If the feeding of our 120,000,000 allies made such a drain on
our resources, what will happen now that 180,000,000 starving neutrals also come
to us for food; when Russia's helpless 160,000,000 thrust their hands across the
sea to us, even as the sinking Peter appealed to Christ, saying, "Save me or I
perish"? Now that peace has come; now that Germany and Austria are again to be
admitted to the society of nations, as eventually they must be, how can we
prevent their hungry multitudes末another 100,000,000 souls末 from also entering
our markets and bidding for our food supplies? Already our former foes are
begging piteously for food, and President Wilson has assured them that their
appeals will be heeded.
Now that these things have come to pass, we must feed or help
to feed, not 220,000,000 people as during the war, but an additional
440,000,000. In short, now that the war is ended and commerce restored, we must
help to feed two-thirds of a billion of people!
QUESTION IS, DOES IT "JELL"?
Mrs. Grace L. Ackley (second from left) is shown explaining the art of
jelly-making to a group of other women of Hinsdale, Illinois. The women's
Association of the Union Church found so much food-saving work to do that it
appointed a chairman for every day in the week.
Food Administrator Hoover recognized this condition
as inevitable, and when the armistice was signed he was prepared to reckon with
it. With the cessation of hostilities he marshalled the food forces of America
and proceeded at once to Europe to join hands with the food forces of England
and the Continent to the end that starvation might be prevented. As one of his
initial steps, before sailing, he asked that the war gardens of American be
maintained and expanded. To the Victory Gardeners, he gave the impetus of his
urgent plea for continued effort in the cause of food production.
The signing of the armistice caused complete and peremptory
revision of the figures dealing with America's obligations toward meeting the
world's demand for food. During the war we had to furnish food for France and
Belgium, but they were a France and Belgium greatly reduced in area because of
German invasion. Much of their territory and millions of their people were held
by the enemy, shut off from their own countries and therefore compelled to
depend in part on the invaders for subsistence. To-day these people are
repatriated. Their restoration to citizenship has brought the obligation to feed
While the direct burden falls on France and Belgium, these
countries must look to America for ways and means. By all the ties of
international friendship, by a sense of gratitude for the part these countries
played n winning the war, by geographical location and by inherent capacity to
provide food, America is the one country able to meet the call. We must also
provide for the smaller allied nations which have been under German
oppression末Serbia, Rumania, Greece, the Czechs, the Jugoslavs, the starving
population of Northern Russia and the people of other countries in Europe.
The revision of figures necessitated by the armistice gave
new meaning to America's responsibility. The original pledge made by the United
States was 17,500,000 tons of food to be shipped overseas during the year. This
amount of food was 50 per cent. greater than that which was sent the year
before. With Belgium and France liberated and millions in south central Europe
clamoring for food, the United States undertook to increase its exports from
17,500,000 to 20,000,000 tons.
To meet the demands for food America has two sources of
supply. Food can be raised only on the farms, by those who make a business of
production, and on the lands of our cities, towns and villages. No other sources
exist. The 40,000,000 acres of farm land under cultivation have already probably
reached their maximum of possible production for the immediate present. It is
obvious, therefore, that if we are to give the world more food the new supply
which will make this possible must come from the only remaining source末the
small gardens in our urban and suburban communities.
The changed conditions brought into being by the signing of
the armistice caused the National War Garden Commission to continue its work
with increased earnestness in 1919. The armistice caused hostilities to be
suspended but it did not increase the food supply nor feed the hungry. The
world's new demand for food made it imperative that the Victory Gardens meet and
surpass the record of the war gardens. To do its share toward bringing this
about, to meet the urgent appeal of Mr. Hoover and to help feed a starving
continent, the Commission realized that no relaxation was to be considered and
its campaign for 1919 as on a broader and more vigorous scaled than during the
CERTIFICATE NUMBER ONE
Mrs. Frank P. Brown, of Cincinnati, captured first honors with her war-garden
display of canned vegetables at several exhibits where she was an entrant. She
was awarded the first National Capitol Prize Certificate offered by the National
War Garden Commission in 1918, to blue-ribbon winners in this class at fairs and
exhibits all over the country.
This terrific demand for food will be not a matter of one
season only. For years and years we must continue to supply unheard-of amounts
of food. Indeed it would have been almost as easy to put Humpty Dumpty together
again as it will be to restore Europe's agriculture. The soil of thousands of
acres has literally been blown away by high explosives. Practically all the
lands in the embattled nations have decreased in producing power through poor
handling, neglect, and lack of fertilizers during the war. And of the host of
farmers that toiled to feed Europe before the war, millions now lie beneath the
soil they tilled, and other millions, maimed and crippled, can never again turn
a furrow or harness a horse. As long ago as 1916 the shortage of cattle, hogs,
and sheep in Europe totaled 115,000,000 head; and without livestock to produce
manures years must elapse before Europe's production is restored to normal.
Since American farmers cannot produce all the food needed,
American gardeners must continue and extend their merciful work of helping to
supply the food needs of the world. Instead of lessening their efforts, they
will be called upon to add as much as possible to their productive capacity
because of the additional mouths to be fed. They are offered a new opportunity
to help. There is no question that the cultivators of our war gardens, now
become victory gardens, will continue their labors.
For a decade or two before the war, there was deep study
and much discussion of the problem as to how to check the exodus from the farm
to the city; but argument and discussion availed nothing, and the exodus
continued. In the "city farmer" has been found a partial answer to the
stay-on-the-farm idea. Ambitious young men and women will not remain in the
country where comforts are denied and where advantages of education and social
life are few; but they will be glad to farm i the city. The victory garden has
opened the way. By this means almost every one becomes a food producer.
Furthermore, increasing prices will make it desirable to the
individual, and the growing demand for food will make it desirable from the
country's point of view, that every one help to feed himself. The readjustment
which must come out of the war calls for pwoers as herculean as those it has
been necessary to put forth during the terrible struggle against "Kultur." This
reconstruction work calls for every bit of man-power that can be found. It is a
question not of months but of years before this up-building is completed. In
France, Belgium, Poland, Italy, Russia, and other European countries, the
rebuilding of cities and churches, railroads and bridges, docks and roads,
houses and barns, the remaking of trench-scarred and shell-torn farms, and many
other big works, must be performed. So we can look for no huge immigration after
the war to solve our labor problem, and that problem is acute. There are no
ruined cities to be rebuilt, or devastated farms to be restored in the United
States, but there are innumerable construction tasks to be done that have been
put aside during the war.
OF A BANK, NOT A FINE GROCERY
This is a view of the war-garden exhibit, a sort of "count fair," which was held
by the Paterson Savings Institution of Paterson, New Jersey, and which aroused a
very lively and friendly competition among the city farmers of that place. The
blue ribbon for the best canned products, and the National Capitol Prize
Certificate, went to Mrs. F.H. Thoms.
Thousands of miles or road末to mention a single task末will
have to be completely rebuilt. The day of the heavy motor-truck as a means of
transportation between city and city has come to stay, and for its accommodation
there must be a strengthening of roads. This is one of the great tasks awaiting
the army of men returning from the battle-fields. The construction of new
buildings in our cities, checked by war-time need of material and men, must be
resumed and lost time must be made up. Cities will need many improvements which
will keep the workers of the world busy. In these and a hundred other ways there
will be steady call for the men released from strictly war work.
All of these facts point to the increasing value of the
victory garden. It will be just as important a factor in the life of the nation
and the community after the war as was the war garden during the conflict. The
need for gardens will last for many years; and during that time, the value of
gardening will have become so apparent that the movement will continue
indefinitely. It will have become a habit fixed and firmly implanted in the
hearts and lives of the people of the country.
In addition to all this, gardening has been found to be a
health measure. It has been used in the rehabilitation of convalescent soldiers.
Around the hospitals in Europe, almost since the beginning of the war, vegetable
plots have furnished the means for providing easy and pleasant outdoor work for
convalescents, which acted as a tonic to their shattered nerves and bodies.
Similarly, at the hospitals and army camps in the United States this form of
activity was employed to help in the rebuilding of disabled and convalescing
soldiers. Around the hospitals in Europe, almost since the beginning of the war,
vegetable plots have furnished the means for providing easy and pleasant outdoor
work for convalescents, which acted as a tonic to their shattered nerves and
bodies. Similarly, at the hospitals and army camps in the United States this
form of activity was employed to help in the rebuilding of disabled and
In the great reconstruction work at the Walter Reed hospital,
which lies in the outskirts of the nation's capital, a fifteen-acre war garden
proved of much therapeutic value in the treatment of men suffering from various
diseases. In addition to helping them regain their health and strength,
gardening trained these men for the future and equipped them to make their own
living and become valuable citizens of any community when they should leave
active service. Part of the large war garden at Camp Dix, New Jersey, adjoined
the base hospital; and potatoes and other vegetables were growing during the
season of 1918 up to the very porches on which some of the invalids had to sit
in their wheel-chairs.
THE WINTER SUPPLY READY
Under the direction of Mrs. Grace L. Ackley, the demonstration canning kitchen
established in Hinsdale, Illinois, was a great success. Some women went for
instruction, others took war-garden crops to have them canned there, while still
others took their maids so that they might learn how to save food.
Sailors as well as soldiers need fresh vegetables to eat,
but they cannot grown vegetables at sea. To overcome this handicap a movement
was started throughout the United Kingdom to give naval men a supply of fresh
vegetables whenever they got to port. Navy vegetable rations formerly consisted
of potatoes only, and a few dried or canned products which could be kept a long
time and stored in small space. The new British organization soon had eight
hundred branches and collecting depots throughout the United Kingdom.
Headquarters were established in London, with Admiral Lord Beresford as
president. The patrons included many prominent people, but its members ranged
from the owners of large estates, contributing regular supplies weekly, to the
small schoolboy with only a ten-foot plot to cultivate. Not long after the work
got under way, 300,000 pounds of fresh vegetables and fruits were being
furnished weekly to the British nave. In speaking of this work and its value,
Rear Admiral Lionel Halsey, third lord of the Admiralty, said:
Those associated with the Vegetable Products Committee can
happily feel that this work is of priceless value, for without a vegetable food
the men of the fleet could not have so thoroughly performed their work in the
past; nor will they be able to do so in the future without a continuance of this
splendid work as efficiently and as generously as in the past. Its value may be
realized when it is stated that these supplies are an invaluable factor in
keeping the men in good health and fitness.
What is true in the case of the stalwart men of the
British navy, is true of all other members of society, of high and low degree.
There is need for vegetable food. The body is kep0t in better condition if it
does not depend too largely on a meat diet. Victory gardening will add greatly
to the proportion of greens which will enter into the diet of the American
The future of gardening, therefore, is assured. It is such
an important economic gain, and its benefits in other ways are so numerous, that
the army of home food producers themselves will be its strongest and most ardent
champions. Both by practice and by precept they will continue to spread the
gospel of "Food F.O.B. the Kitchen Door." Just as the army which has fought for
justice, decency, and civilization will see to it that these principles are
maintained in every part of the world, so the soldiers of the soil in city,
town, and village, millions of whom have tested the worth of gardening, will be
its future champions and defenders. It is in these ways that the seeds of
victory will insure the fruits of peace.