Tucked away in South Minneapolis is one of just two Victory Gardens nationwide still in active use. The gardens at Dowling School in Minneapolis and the Fenway Victory Garden in Boston are the only two remaining gardens left of the approximately 20 million nationwide in use during World War II. Minneapolis alone had more than 130,000 gardens during the war.
Victory Gardens began in 1942 as a nationwide effort to encourage home gardens. Unused land, front yards, vacant lots, and even rooftops were put into use to raise vegetables and produce so that sufficient food was available for the military. In addition, citizens sacrificed with “Meatless Mondays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays” to allow adequate food for soldiers fighting abroad. Victory Gardens served as a rallying point and practical way for Americans to participate in the effort to win the war.
Today the Dowling garden and others like it give people a chance to have control over their food and its production. Today’s gardeners, whether gardening at home or in a community plot, develop a personal connection to their food and food production in combination with the enjoyment and satisfaction of gardening.
For those without the time to garden or gardening skills, participating in a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) allows folks to eat and support sustainably grown food. For more information see the Land Stewardship Project website below.
Kitchen Gardening in America: A History, by David M. Tucker, Iowa State University Press, 1993