Victory Gardens revisited – the Obama Foodscape

US World War II era poster promoting Victory Gardens (source:

US World War II era poster promoting Victory Gardens

Victory Gardens, also known as ‘war gardens’ or ‘food gardens for defense’ were fruit, vegetable and herb gardens planted in backyards and on rooftops in the USA, the UK, Canada and Australia during World War II. They were considered to be an important means to reduce the costs for vegetables needed by the US War Department to feed the troops and to safeguard food security. One of the advocates of the Victory Garden was Eleanor Roosevelt, US first lady from 1933 to 1945, who also planted a Victory Garden at the White House. The Victory Gardens were a great success: the 20 million Victory Gardens in the US produced up to 40% of all vegetables that were consumed in the US.

After World War II the number of Victory Gardens rapidly decreased as most citizens believed that food shortages would be over soon. However, in recent years there is a campaign to re-establish Victory Gardens. Not to reduce the price of vegetables needed to feed US troops, but primarily from the perspective of food sovereignty; as a means to escape the growing dependence of consumers on the food stuffs provided by the food processing industries and retailers. At the same time gardening is also considered to be an important instrument in greening cities, in growing sustainable communities and in educating children about food and healthy eating (see e.g. our recent blogs about urban agriculture and nourishing the city).

For such a movement to become a success it is always helpful to have a leading figure as an icon. It seems that the USA’s new first family, in particular first lady Michelle Obama, is taking on this role. For the first time since the Roosevelt days, the White House once again as a garden. This beautiful short movie gives a good impression of the White House kitchen garden and the rationale behind it. 

However, there is more to food and the Obama’s than the White House kitchen garden only. Recently President Obama  announced that he wants to set up a White House farmers market to support local farmers and as an example of creating new connections between cities and its surrounding countryside. Interested to be informed about  the Obama Foodscape, have a look at the  Obama Foodorama weblog.

4 thoughts on “Victory Gardens revisited – the Obama Foodscape

  1. Pingback: Know your farmer, know your food « Rural Sociology Group Wageningen (Weblog)

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