How to Start a Modern-Day Victory Garden to Help Feed the Hungry (2023)

How to Start a Modern-Day Victory Garden to Help Feed the Hungry (1)

From spacious raised beds in backyards to compact container gardens on apartment balconies, many of us took up the spade and shovel to grow more of our own food in light of the uncertainty during the pandemic. And while not everyone decided to keep up with the planting and harvesting, others discovered a new passion for tucking seeds into the dirt, watching the sprouts emerge, and harvesting colorful baskets full of herbs, fruits and vegetables.

CatherineandAndyBurgess ofBurgess Group | Compass, a real estate group in Boulder, Colorado, saw an opportunity during the pandemic to put for-sale land to good use for their community. They launched The Food Security Project in March 2021 as a productive way to use their for-sale listing of an 80-acre farm to grow thousands of pounds of produce for Boulder and Broomfield counties. So far, the project has donated more than 3,000 pounds of fresh produce to the Community Food Share food bank. And now, project organizers are encouraging other gardeners to start their own “victory garden” to fight food insecurity in their communities.

As springtime nears, it’s time for home gardeners across the country to begin drawing up planting and harvesting plans for the coming year. Farmer Katie Ketchum with The Food Security Projectsuggests those interested in keeping their hands in the dirt consider transforming their standard garden into a “victory garden” during the next planting season.

How to Start a Modern-Day Victory Garden to Help Feed the Hungry (2)

The History of Victory Gardens

“Victory gardens date back to 1917, just before the United States entered World War I, when Americans were encouraged to contribute to the war effort by growing their own food to both donate and take stress off the supply chain and ration systems,” explains Ketchum. “Now, victory gardens have re-surged in popularity due to today’s growing food security and supply chain issues. Americans are being encouraged to use any small piece of idle land to grow food for their families and donate surplus to those in need.”

(Video) Modern Victory Garden Project

As victory gardens became commonplace in the U.S., they also sprung up in homes and public parks across the globe – most notably in places like the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany and Canada. They were also known as “war gardens” or “food gardens for defense,” and often served the dual purpose of bolstering morale and supplementing wartime rations.

See more:How to Start a Vegetable Garden From Seeds

We’re fortunately quite removed from the time of world wars, but the idea behind a food security garden remains a good one, particularly given the recent hiccups in supply chains throughout the country. Planting your own victory garden not only gives you better control over the food you put on the table, but can also provide a much-needed meal for those in the community who aren’t able to cultivate or supplement their own diet with fresh produce (especially since food security hit its lowest rate in 20 years during 2020).

How to Start a Modern-Day Victory Garden to Help Feed the Hungry (3)

How to Start a Modern Victory Garden

Ketchum suggests those interested in victory gardens begin by assessing what they hope to gain from the project. It could be anything from access to fresh produce and unique vegetable varieties to transforming an otherwise homely space into a beautiful and inviting atmosphere.

“Once you’ve established your overarching goals for the season, you can design a garden that best serves your needs and wants,” says Ketchum. “Find a sunny spot in close proximity to your home, whether that’s an apartment balcony with space for a few 5-gallon bucket planters or a quarter acre in the backyard.”

(Video) 9 Survival Gardening Crops to Grow in a Post Apocalyptic World

Ketchum also suggests thinking outside the box if you need more elbow room to expand your growing efforts.

“It doesn’t hurt to approach business and landowners about the potential to start a victory garden on underutilized growing spaces in the community,” she says. “The worst they can say is no.”

See more:Victory Gardens Take on New Purpose in Ohio

Gardeners can also look into their state’s land grant university extension office, which Ketchum says is a great resource for region-specific advice regarding what and when to plant and where to source seeds, compost, building materials and more.

“My greatest piece of advice is to only plant what you like to eat,” she says. Unless you plan to donate the produce to a local food bank, school or other charitable organization, harvesting vegetables you don’t plan to eat will only result in wasted food.

(Video) How To Grow A Victory Garden In Your Front Lawn - PBS Growing A Greener World

She also encourages gardeners to not be discouraged if things don’t go according to plan. “The main idea of a victory garden is to grow any amount of food on any amount of land,” she says. “You can always start over, do more research, adjust your methods and try those crops again next season.”

How to Start a Modern-Day Victory Garden to Help Feed the Hungry (4)

A Month-by-Month Victory Garden Timeline

While gardening is theoretically as simple as planting seeds and harvesting them when your plants have matured, it can feel overwhelming in the beginning. Ketchum suggests the following monthly task timeline for gardeners interested in launching their own victory garden efforts in the new year:


Create a crop plan. Come up with a rough plan for what you want to grow and where in your space it will go. Find out when your region’s average last frost date is – this is easily searchable via the Farmers’ Almanac.


If you plan to start your plants from seeds, depending on your region, this is when you’ll want to start your seeds indoors. Or you might prefer to skip this step and instead purchase plant starts from a local nursery – if so, skip to April/May. If you live in a region where the soil is workable by this point, you can seed cold-tolerant crops such as spinach, radishes, peas and carrots directly into the ground.


Prep your land. Remove any large weeds or crop residue that may have been left in the ground over the winter. Put down a few inches of compost and work any amendments you might be using into the soil. Depending on when your last frost date is, this is likely when you’ll be able to transplant your seedlings or seed starts outside.

(Video) Impacting Food Insecurity: Extension's 'Grow & Give' Modern Victory Garden Work


Weed, fertilize, harvest and replant. August is a good time to find out when your region’s average first frost is. I recommend counting backwards from your date of first frost to your current date. This will give you an idea of how many “frost-free days” you have left in the season. Take this number and compare it to the “days to maturity” of anything you’d still like to plant in your current season.

For example, if there are 70 frost free days left in your region and you’re trying to plant a crop that takes 100 days from seed to harvest, you’re probably out of luck until next season. But if the days to maturity is less than the days to first frost, give it a go.

See more:Get in the Gardening Zone With USDA Plant Hardiness Map


September is a good time to seed crops with shorter days to maturity and crops that prefer cooler weather. This allows you to have a continuous harvest of vegetables as summer crops like cucumbers, summer squash and peppers start to slow down. I like to plant arugula, spinach and radishes during this month.


Harvest the last of your crops. Remove crop residue from garden beds. Plant garlic for next summer. Seed cover crops or cover garden beds with compost and mulch in order to retain moisture and prevent nutrient leaching over the winter.

(Video) Gretchen Mead of The Victory Garden Initiative Talks About Urban Farming and our Environment


Take a break and start dreaming up plans for next year’s victory garden!


What is a victory garden and how did it help the war effort? ›

During America's involvement in World War II (1941–1945), the Victory Garden Program strove to reduce demand for commercially grown vegetables, packaging materials, and transportation needs by encouraging Americans to grow their own produce and preserve and can their surplus harvest.

What was the main purpose of victory gardens? ›

First promoted during World War I, war gardening, or victory gardens, provided American citizens an opportunity to assist with the war effort. Americans were encouraged to produce their own food, planting vegetable gardens in their backyards, churchyards, city parks, and playgrounds.

What was a victory garden quizlet? ›

What were Victory gardens? Gardens planted by American citizens during war to raise vegetables for home use, leaving more food for the troops (WWII).

What should be in a victory garden? ›

Traditional victory gardens included foods high in nutrition, such as beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, kale, lettuce, peas, tomatoes, turnips, squash, and Swiss chard.

What are the benefits of victory gardens? ›

Planting Victory Gardens helped make sure that there was enough food for our soldiers fighting around the world. Because canned vegetables were rationed, Victory Gardens also helped people stretch their ration coupons (the amount of certain foods they were allowed to buy at the store).

What is the meaning of victory garden? ›

: a wartime vegetable garden developed to increase food production especially by home gardeners.

How did victory gardens start? ›

Victory gardens (originally called war gardens or liberty gardens) made their first appearance during World War I (1914–1918). President Woodrow Wilson called on Americans to plant vegetable gardens to ward off the possible threat of food shortages. Americans took up the challenge as a civic and patriotic duty.

What does a victory garden look like? ›

The Victory Garden was focused on crops that were easy to grow, including fresh vegetables in season as well as root crops and hardier crops that could be stored during the winter. Traditional crops included leafy greens, beans, watermelon, and tomatoes, but grow what your family likes to eat.

What did people grow in a victory garden? ›

Amid protests from the Department of Agriculture, Eleanor Roosevelt even planted a victory garden on the White House lawn. Some of the most popular produce grown included beans, beets, cabbage, carrots, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, peas, tomatoes, turnips, squash and Swiss chard.

How did the government encourage people to grow victory gardens? ›

So, the government turned to its citizens and encouraged them to plant "Victory Gardens." They wanted individuals to provide their own fruits and vegetables. Nearly 20 million Americans answered the call. They planted gardens in backyards, empty lots and even city rooftops.

Where did the victory gardens take place? ›

In New York City, the lawns around vacant "Riverside" were devoted to victory gardens, as were portions of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The slogan "grow your own, can your own", was a slogan that started at the time of the war and referred to families growing and canning their own food in victory gardens.

Who invented the victory garden? ›

The Originator of Victory Gardening: Charles Lathrop Pack

Charles Lathrop Pack, a businessman, forestry expert, and once one of the five wealthiest men in America, came up with the concept of promoting War Gardens in 1917, just before the United States entered the First World War.

What does the poster plant a victory garden mean? ›

Plant a victory garden: our food is fighting.

34. 1943. 28 x 22. This poster was part of the publicity for a brilliantly mounted campaign to encourage the use of homegrown foods. Because commercially canned goods were rationed, the Victory Garden became an indispensable source of food for the home front.

What are the 3 things that you need to consider in creating your own garden? ›

Factors That Affect Your Gardening
  • Environment. The environment is one of the most important elements to consider when planning your garden. ...
  • Plant size. All plants grow into varying shapes and sizes. ...
  • Amount of shade. ...
  • Flowering time. ...
  • Maintenance. ...
  • Resistance to disease and parasites.

Should I plant a victory garden? ›

The gardens first came to light in the 20th century, against the backdrop of the world wars, when food supply lines were strained and rationing limited what little food was available commercially. Today, planting a victory garden is still a great way to provide your family with fresh, healthy produce.

What is the first thing you do in a garden? ›

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you make the most of your space at home.
  1. Start small and consider what to plant. ...
  2. Prepare the gardening tools and supplies. ...
  3. Pick the perfect spot. ...
  4. Clear the ground and get some good soil. ...
  5. Fertilizing the garden. ...
  6. Watering the garden. ...
  7. Organic Pest Control Solutions. ...
  8. Pick your plants.
11 Sept 2022

How big should a victory garden be? ›

For a small family (two to four people) they recommended a garden that was 15'x25' with 15' rows (15 rows total). If you had more space and were feeding more people, they recommended a victory garden that was 25'x50' and had 25' rows (27 rows total).

How do you use victory garden in a sentence? ›

People were encouraged to plant victory gardens during a time that food was rationed.

Why did victory gardens stop? ›

But after the war ended in 1945, victory gardens began to disappear. Grocery stores and commercial food began to become more widely available so most Americans didn't see the need to grow anymore. Gardening became a hobby rather than a necessity for most people.

When did victory gardens popular? ›

About the 1940s Victory Gardens

People began planting Victory Gardens in 1917 during World War I in an effort to avoid rationing food. During World War II, the United States government promoted Victory Gardens again, this time to supplement food rationing at home, helping make more foods available for troops abroad.

What do tin foil drives victory gardens? ›

What do tin foil drives, victory gardens, and rationing have in common? They were part of the civilian reaction while waiting for the military to return home at the end of World War II. They were all part of the sacrifices Americans made for the war effort.

What vegetables were grown in Dig for Victory? ›

In this wartime dig for victory leaflet is a basic but thorough guide to growing the root crops. Carrots, Beets, Parsnips, Turnips and Swedes.

How much of Nations vegetables does victory gardens produce? ›

Victory Gardens could be found all over the country during WWII, from the backyards in Oak Ridge to the rooftops in New York City. Near the end of the war there were approximately 20 million Victory Gardens producing 40 percent of vegetables consumed in the United States.

Why are Americans encouraged to grow their own food in victory gardens? ›

During the conflict, the United States government wanted to guarantee that ample food existed for men serving in the armed forces and for America's allies overseas. By growing victory gardens, the American people could provide for themselves, instead of needing to purchase food grown by farmers.

How do you have a successful garden in Sims 4? ›

Planting and upkeeping your garden
  1. Have you Sim order seed packets via their phone or computer.
  2. Open the seed packets that will appear in your Sm's inventory. ...
  3. Drag the produce or flower that came out of the seed packet to where you want to plant it. ...
  4. Select the produce or flower or choice and select “plant.”
11 Oct 2021

Why is it called a victory garden? ›

Victory gardens (originally called war gardens or liberty gardens) made their first appearance during World War I (1914–1918). President Woodrow Wilson called on Americans to plant vegetable gardens to ward off the possible threat of food shortages. Americans took up the challenge as a civic and patriotic duty.

How do you cheat on plant SIM? ›

Becoming a PlantSim (CHEATS)

Make sure cheats are enabled (testingcheats true), then shift + click a Sim and use the “Make Into PlantSim” option. This will immediately transform the Sim. The second option is to use the buydebug cheat (bb. showhiddenobjects) and search for the “Forbidden Fruit of the PlantSim”.

How do you get a girl baby on Sims 4? ›

Once your Sim gets pregnant, it's time to play with fate. To get a girl, have them eat strawberries and avoid carrots. You can find strawberries in the Willow Creek neighborhood or grow them in your garden with the Seasons expansion pack installed.

How do I make my garden look like a jungle? ›

Planting in different layers, or 'storeys', is a great way to achieve a jungle-style effect in your garden. Bamboos and bananas can be used to add structure and height, while ferns make perfect mid-level plants. For low-level ground cover, hostas are hard to beat.

How do you build a butterfly garden at home? ›

7 Steps for Creating a Butterfly Garden
  1. Choose the right location. ...
  2. Select flowers that attract butterflies. ...
  3. Use organic, homemade bait. ...
  4. Add a water source. ...
  5. Build butterfly shelters. ...
  6. Stay clear of toxic pesticides. ...
  7. Keep a diary.
7 Jun 2021

What is the best food to grow for survival? ›

Top 20 Best Foods To Grow For Survival
  1. Beans. Beans, such as these adzuki beans, are a great staple crop. ...
  2. Corn. This is harder to grow in an apartment but is a yard staple. ...
  3. Squash. Both winter and summer squash are great in your end-of-the-world garden. ...
  4. Cabbage. ...
  5. Potatoes. ...
  6. Kale. ...
  7. Sweet Potatoes. ...
  8. Lentils.
4 Nov 2022

Can you grow enough food to survive? ›

Research in the 1970s by John Jeavons and the Ecology Action Organization found that 4000 square feet (about 370 square metres) of growing space was enough land to sustain one person on a vegetarian diet for a year, with about another 4000 square feet (370 square meters) for access paths and storage – so that's a plot ...

How do you grow enough food to self sustain? ›

Optimize the growing season – Plant both cool and warm season veggies to stretch out the harvest period. Growing peas, tomatoes and Swiss chard can give your self-reliant garden three seasons of fresh food. Go organic – Compost leaves, grass and kitchen scraps to reduce your reliance on chemical fertilizer.


1. Hungry for History with Kara Gordon: Make and Mend for Victory
(The Cockayne Farmstead)
2. Chicago Victory Gardens: Yesterday and Tomorrow
(Library of Congress)
3. Here's What People Ate To Survive During WWII
(Weird History)
4. Community gardeners to help feed metro with food bank donation
(NxT Horizon LLC Aquaponics Channel )
6. Victory Garden Week 2: Raised Beds, Soil, Compost, and Planning
(Farm Table Foundation)
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