Rose Hayden-Smith • thevictorygrower.com

Rose Hayden-Smith

About Rose Hayden-Smith

I'm an author/academic who believes that gardens can transform the world. Call me a Victory Grower. Location: intersection of gardens, agriculture, food systems, sustainability, history, faith, public policy and the use of social technologies. The past has the power to inform the present.

Wartime Gardens and the Military

During World War I (WWI), Liberty Gardens weren’t just grown and supported by civilians and communities in the United States. The military did their part too.

As I explain in this UC Food Observer article:
“…gardens were sometimes a feature of military bases (for example, American recruits cultivated potatoes at the sprawling Camp Dix, in New Jersey). Even the rear trenches in some places sported food-producing gardens. Gardens were also used at military hospitals, not only for food, but to provide therapy for wounded soldiers.”
Even the Stars and Stripes – the United States’ storied military newspaper – reported on these WWI gardens.

You can see the actual newspaper piece, which reported there were 5,285,000 war gardens with crops worth over a half billion dollars. By keeping the soldiers aware of news like this from home, the newspaper helped support a common purpose and national unity among our military.

Read the article.

Farming in Los Angeles – Yesterday and Today

Did you know that up until the 1950s, Los Angeles was the number-one food producing area in the nation? Now it’s the nation’s most food insecure with many suffering from hunger and poor nutrition.

That’s the topic of LA FOODWAYS, which examines the history of food in the nation’s second most populous city after New York. The multimedia series is comprised of a one-hour documentary, six digital episodes and digital articles. These stories tell the storied agricultural history of Los Angeles, as well as our current food waste challenges. Just as we witnessed with the wartime community and school gardens, there are creative opportunities to bring fresh foods to urban communities.

This series is “a deep dive into the different manners in which local organizations are coming together to ensure the future of agriculture in the region in order to identify environmentally friendly solutions for the future,” says KCET-TV, where it is airing the documentary at following times:

Wednesday        Feb 6, 8:00 PM PT

Sunday                Feb 10, 5:00 PM PT        

Wednesday        Feb 13, 11:02 PM PT

Friday                   Feb 15, 10:00 PM PT       

Tuesday              Feb 19, 10:00 AM PT     

Wednesday        Feb 27, 9:00 PM PT        
Learn about LA’s Agricultural Past

It’s really fascinating to look back at how Los Angeles once led the nation in areas like wine grapes, chicken farms and beekeeping. Many suburban growers contributed to this food production with small acreage, as you’ll see in this article I wrote for UCFoodObserver.com.

You’ll learn about an important book that illustrates this historical time period when the City of Angels was the nation’s agricultural powerhouse.

This valuable resource was co-written by certified Master Gardener Judith Gerber and Rachel Surls, Sustainable Food Systems Advisor for University of […]

By |February 5th, 2019|Categories: History, Media, public policy||0 Comments

A Little History of School Gardens

We often think of school gardens as a new trend. But school gardens were actually used in parts of Europe as early as 1811, and mention of their value preceded that by nearly two centuries.

In the United States, one of the earliest school garden programs was developed in 1891, at the George Putnam School in Roxbury, Massachusetts. (Today, the nationally recognized Food Project also teaches youth about gardening and urban agriculture in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston).

These school gardens taught much more than simply horticultural skills. The founder of the children’s school farm at DeWitt Clinton Park in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York was quoted in Marie Louise Greene’s book Among School Gardens, saying:
“I did not start a garden to grow a few vegetables and flowers. The garden was used as a means to…teach them in their work some necessary civic virtues, private care of public property, economy, honestly, application, concentration, self-government, civic pride, justice, the dignity of labor, and the love of nature…”
Today, school gardens continue to teach valuable skills to students and their communities. Learn more about the history of school gardens in this article from UCFoodObserver.com, which was originally published in Kitchen Gardeners International.

Incidentally, these historical posters were produced by  illustrator Maginel Wright Enright Barney for the war effort. She was the younger sister of Frank Lloyd Wright and a noted children’s illustrator, whose work continues to charm readers to this day.

Read the article.

Connecting veterans to farming is part of our history

An historical note from the Victory Grower – also blogging as the UC Food Observer – on Veterans Day

Connecting veterans to farming and ranching dates back to the earliest days of the United States. In the pre-Revolutionary War era, veterans of the French and Indian War – which was the North American theater of the Seven Years’ War being fought in Europe – received land grants for their military service. Between 1775 and 1855, the United States government provided what were called “bounty-land warrants” for some types of military service. Bounty-land warrants (land grants) were used to encourage enlistment. They were also used to reward veterans for service during a seemingly endless series of wars and military actions (including the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, etc.) The U.S. government ended these programs in 1855.

But the need to connect veterans and others to farming didn’t go away.

California’s Land Settlement Colonies

In the early 1930s, the New Deal provided a number of resettlement and subsistence homestead programs through the Resettlement Administration. But the model for these programs came even earlier. One model was created in 1917, when the state of California passed a Land Settlement Act that ultimately created two land resettlement colonies. The Act provided funds to purchase more than 6,000 acres near Chico, in Butte County, where the Durham colony was started in 1918. A second colony – Delhi – was started in Merced County in 1920.

The legislation and the programs it created were strongly influenced by University of California professor Elwood Mead. Mead chaired the Rural Institutions division at Berkeley, and later was the driving force behind some of the West’s largest water projects. Mead helped structure the programs based […]

The past could hold keys to a new national food policy

The past could hold keys to a new national food policy. I would encourage policy makers and influencers to search our nation’s past for historical precedents that could help some of these ideas gain traction. They exist.

And there are some things we could do immediately that would facilitate positive transformation in the food system. Many of these recommendations are based in historical practice. These are teachable moments in our nation’s history, but also actionable moments.

1. Capitalize on the phenomenal interest in gardening. Support a gardening ethos at all levels, incorporating policy, practice and demonstrating personal value.

To paraphrase Gandhi, be the change you want to see in the food system. Grow something for yourself. Grow something for your community. Move your backyard garden and make it a front yard garden. Claim an unused space in your community and grow it. Share your gardening skills with youth in your community, at a school or an after-school program, or through a church youth group. Volunteer to grow container vegetables at a senior facility. Scale up to the community level – and the state and then national level – much like the Victory Garden programs of WWI and WWII.

2. Preserve what is grown. Reduce food waste.

We should also focus on food conservation and preservation…and on reducing food waste. The amount of food waste in our nation is staggering; simply reducing that could help address at least part of the nation’s hunger issue. WWI and WWII models of food conservation and preservation programs provide a clear road map on how to accomplish this task. The Cooperative Extension Service is seeing growing interest in its Master Food Preserver Program, which equips volunteers to train others in communities on food preservation […]

“Victory Garden book is a winner”

The Patriot Ledger has reviewed “Sowing the Seeds of Victory” and is terming it a “winner.”

It’s not too late to buy a copy for the holiday season. If you do, and if you email at this site, I’ll send the recipient a lovely  bookplate signed by the author, gratis.  Just include the pertinent information.

 

“A Garden for Everyone. Everyone in a Garden.”

By |December 15th, 2014|Categories: school gardens|Tags: |0 Comments

AP History: A poem about immigration. And #victorygardens.

AP History: A poem about immigration. And #victorygardens.

Usually I write about gardens, food systems, and the like. If you read my work, or follow me on social media, you also know that I think gardens and food are patriotic. And political: our forks express our political beliefs. I nearly always write about history, because that is the primary discipline (and passion) that serves as the foundation for the rest of my work. You may have read my book, my blog and various things I post on Twitter. Or on Facebook. I also write poetry. Not well, but with great feeling, ever since I was a little child. Notebooks full. A heartfelt “thank you” to great teachers like Leticia Kelly, Judy Ryder Leer Paleologos and Sue Marshall for encouraging this.

Given the furor about the President’s Executive Order this week, I thought I’d share this with you. It’s a poem I wrote a couple of years ago for a dear colleague who became an American citizen. And the immigration and garden history thing: there’s a link. Because the Liberty/Victory Garden programs of World War I were also about creating common purpose among a highly diverse American population…close to one in five being immigrants at the time.

We can learn from that, can’t we?

 

AP History

a really long poem by Rose Hayden-Smith aka @victorygrower

Each July 4th we celebrate our Declaration of Independence
With fireworks and BBQ and parades.
(We seldom note that the Declaration was read in both English and German).

We forget that grand gesture was only the beginning of a process:
A long and bruising war with an imperial force,
Years of negotiation to create a constitution
That was simultaneously a new and holy thing and also a sinfully flawed thing.

My […]

Origins of Veterans Day: A short primer

 

Origins of Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day began in the World War 1 era as “Armistice Day”. It is still referred to by that term elsewhere in the world, and is also called “Remembrance Day” in some places. At the 11th hour, on the 11th day, of the 11th month in 1918 – Germany and the Allied nations agreed to a cessation of hostilities. It wasn’t the formal end of the war – those details would take months to work out, and tragically, thousands were lost in the final minutes ticking down to Armistice – but it marked the end of fighting. In much of the world – even today – many of us pause to remember in silence the millions upon millions killed, wounded and forever affected by World War I, “the war to end all wars.”

“Lest we forget…” The first Armistice Day observance was certainly the reflection of the desire of people to, as one government official said, “find some lasting expression of their feeling for those who gave their lives in the war. They want something done now while the memories of sacrifice are in the minds of all…”

Armistice was celebrated with one, two, or even three minutes of absolute silence. Factories quieted, and all came to a stand still. One participant later described it like this: “Silence, complete and arresting, closed upon the city – the moving, awe-inspiring silence of a great Cathedral where the smallest sound must seem a sacrilege…Only those who have felt it can understand the overmastering effect in action and reaction of a multitude moved suddenly to one thought and one purpose.”

The silent commemoration was so important that in the inter-war years, the word “Silence” was capitalized.

The first […]

Uncle Sam Says “Garden”

Uncle Sam says “Garden”.
We need to listen to Uncle Sam.
An entire chapter of my book, “Sowing the Seeds of Victory” is dedicated to WWI poster art and propaganda. Chapter Four contains numerous poster images and a detailed analysis of each. One of my favorite images is this one – Uncle Sam Says Garden”  – produced by the USDA.
“Uncle Sam Says Garden” was a poster that was directed to a broader audience than some of the other gardening posters, which were directed to children. Produced in 1917, it shows Uncle Sam in the foreground, holding a hoe in one hand, and papers that read “City Gardens” and “Farm Gardens” in the other. These words are clearly meant to synthesize the interests of rural and urban Americans: gardening was a shared activity, a common national goal. A man and woman work in the garden shown, which is in the shape of the American flag. Some of the plants featured in the garden might appear to be stars upon the flag. The woman in the poster wears a long, red skirt and a white shirt; in her arm is something she has harvested from the garden.

A subtitle suggests that Americans might wish to garden in order to “cut food costs.” Those seeing the poster are urged to write to the USDA for a free bulletin on gardening, suggesting, “It’s food for thought.” The poster is framed by brown band, and the bottom right corner features a cluster of richly hued vegetables. Upon careful inspection, the background, featuring trees, actually bears a striking resemblance to leafy green vegetables and also to broccoli stems. The use of Uncle Sam in gardening posters was not as common as […]

Family + Food: Parents Visit College

Family + food: parents visit college. Like many families, ours has a particular food culture that defines it. Food anchors us, and connects us to one another. We use mealtimes as times to have important conversations (about what we’re eating and about life), to laugh, and to simply enjoy one another.

It is Parents Weekend at our daughter’s college, Willamette University. (Shout out to a superb college: another blog posting). It’s been a wonderful, joyous, interesting – and at times, puzzling – three days. We’ve (re)connected with her on a new footing. She has changed a great deal in eight weeks, and we are meeting her as an equal who has been living rather independently from us.

She is showing us her new community this weekend, we are meeting her friends, and getting a glimpse of the experiences and life she is creating for herself. It is a bit like standing on the deck of a rolling ship – in the best possible of ways – when the safe harbor and shore are behind you, and the horizon ahead is infinite and limitless. You are no longer the captain: that role has now been given over to your young adult, to the next generation, and you can only try to keep your footing and remain relevant in some way. (In our case, working the galley: food provisioning).

The first afternoon, we celebrated our reunion and tested new waters. We became reacquainted. Our daughter drove us through the gorgeous Willamette Valley to enjoy an afternoon snack at the Willamette Pie Company. We saved room for a patio dinner with our daughter and her roommate at Adam’s Rib in Salem. Another dinner was reserved for a new favorite, La […]