When I told my personal food advisor about my backyard raised garden plans, I could hear her eyes roll over the phone. She said something along the lines of ‘boy howdy, are gardens back again?’.
Backyard Gardens are Back in Style
That was the headline from an April 1972 Reader’s Digest I found in my grandmother’s basement last month. It seems Americans rediscover backyard vegetable gardens every few decades.
(Also in the April 1972 issue of Reader’s Digest:
- the coming health care crisis
- drug abuse in America
- oil spills in the ocean
- America’s endless war
- discussion of high gas prices
- what’s wrong with our Federal bureaucracy
It ain’t just gardens that are cyclical.)
Historical Perspective on the Victory Garden
In 1943, Eleanor Roosevelt went maverick: she planted a vegetable garden, ticked off the United States Department of Agriculture and started a gardening revolution. By the end of World War II, there were more than 20 million home gardens in the United States supplying 40% of the food consumed.
That is no small amount of food: 40%.
Of course, planting a vegetable garden was a lot easier in 1943 with a two-continent war raging and the First Lady leading the charge. Heck, even in 1972, the number of deed-restricted and zero lot line communities were far less prevalent. Backyards are watched for CC&R violators as vigilantly today as union halls were watched for commie pinkos sympathizers.
That food was rationed, too, may have been strong encouragement to plant your own food. Also, America was far more agrarian in general in the 1940s. Even the people living in big cities probably had parents who had farmed. Today, chances are, you have never grown anything that you ended up eating. Still, 40%.
Today’s Trend: Grow Your Own Vegetables?
Am I leading a new backyard vegetable cycle or hitching my cart to a horse that is already running? I’m not sure.
Organic foods are popular. (Or they were popular two years ago when people had money and jobs.) Locally-grown food is popular. (Or was when gas was $4.00 a gallon and transportation was a large percentage of food cost.)
Both those trends may be leading toward a grow-your-own trend. I’m just not sure. It is easier to buy organic or go to a farmer’s market to get locally-grown food than it is to grow your own food. I guess it is all a matter of degree and level of dedication.
Next Up: Why am I Growing My Own Food
Stay tuned to this blog for the reasons behind my home vegetable garden.
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