Rose Hayden-Smith •


The Fruits of Victory: Food Preservation

“The Fruits of Victory” was a World War I poster that encouraged Americans to adopt food preservation practices. The national message that focused on school, home and community gardens as well as food preservation and food conservation resulted in increased exports to America’s allies during wartime, and also in improved nutrition. Liberty Gardens – later Victory Gardens – became a national imperative.

The practices encouraged by the federal government during World War I were simple but effective: increase local food production, preserve some of what we grew, and also to try to reduce food consumption (consider Meatless Mondays). These measures worked.  And they make sense today.

Undoubtedly, some of you reading this post will be spending part of the long weekend putting up fruit and vegetables. It’s a good thing to do. To encourage you in your efforts, enjoy this WWI image. And pick up a copy of my book, “Sowing the Seeds of Victory”, to learn more about what was done then – and what we could do now, as individuals and a nation – to improve our food system.

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

WWI Poster: Uncle Sam and a Farmerette

Uncle Sam invited all Americans to garden in World War I; nearly 20,000 American women answered a call to service and picked up a hoe. Many of these “farmerettes”, as they were called, used their work on America’s farms to press for full citizenship, including suffrage.

To learn more about this interesting chapter in America’s history, please read Chapter 6 of “Sowing the Seeds of Victory”. With so much focus on WWI now, this is a book you won’t want to miss.

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

Local food: an old idea made new again

Local food is an old idea made new again. Buying #localfood is the new old-fashioned thing to do. Check out this abbreviated version of a World War I poster. Buying local food was a governmental recommendation as early as WWI.  Read more about #WWI posters and their impact on mobilizing the home front in Chapter 4 of my book, “Sowing the Seeds of Victory”.

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

EarthEats: Interview

I was delighted to be interviewed by Annie Corrigan, producer of Earth Eats, which is run out of Indiana Public Media. Earth Eats – which has a website, blogs, podcasts, and a great social media presence – has become one of my new go-to sites for information about “real food and green living.” The topics are cutting-edge, relevant, provocative, often fun, and very well-covered.

Please read the interview, Liberty Gardens of World War 1 Updated for Today, and please be certain to follow Earth Eats for a big helping of food…for thought!


Earth Eats on Twitter

Earth Eats on Facebook

Uncle Sam Says “Garden”

An entire chapter of my book, “Sowing the Seeds of Victory” is dedicated to WWI poster art and propaganda. This chapter 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 wider audiences 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 Columbia, and in this depiction, he is dressed in clothing covered with […]

By |June 14th, 2014|Categories: History||0 Comments

WWI posters: Penfield recruits gardeners here

Nearly every nation used posters to mobilize the home front during WW1. Posters were widely used on the American home front to recruit school, home, community and workplace gardeners, and to encourage food conservation.

This WW1 poster, created by noted artist Edward Penfield, recruited teen aged girls into service as gardeners on the American home front. In a different take on youth gardeners (generally depicted as younger and more cheerful), a brooding young woman dressed in a uniform pushes a wheeled cultivator. Her hair and dress foreshadow the ways in which women would use the war to challenge stereotypes.

The striking visual imagery and rhetoric of this and other posters played into larger themes stressing the nature of American freedom, citizenship, and patriotism. 

Read more about posters and propaganda in Chapter 4 of “Sowing the Seeds of Victory”. 

Until next time, “A Garden for Everyone. Everyone in a Garden.”

By |June 9th, 2014|Categories: school gardens||0 Comments

DDay and Victory Gardens

Victory Gardens mattered in WWI and WWII. The home front and the battlefront represent opposite sides of the same coin; cause and effect come into play. Military needs dictated home front mobilization, and what occurred on the home front affected what could be executed on the battlefront.

As Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy on #DDay, those on the home front gardened. 

I like this picture, borrowed from the Library of Congress, and taken by photographer Edward Meyer. I think this picture speaks to me because the boy depicted in it is about the same age my father was, when his family worked a small Victory Garden at their home in Terrell, Texas. Terrell was the location of a quickly constructed military base where British and American pilots were trained. My grandfather worked there as part of the American war effort. My father remembered his family’s Victory Garden, and the small black dog that was his boon companion.

Honoring their service, and the memories of gardens past.

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

By |June 6th, 2014|Categories: Other|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Lincoln: The ability to produce food = freedom

When he was stumping for the office of president in 1859, Abraham Lincoln equated the ability of Americans to produce food with freedom.

Lincoln said this:

“And thorough work, again, renders sufficient, the smallest quantity of ground to each man. And this again, conforms to what must occur in a world less inclined to wars, and more devoted to the arts of peace, than heretofore. Population must increase rapidly — more rapidly than in former times — and ere long the most valuable of all arts, will be the art of deriving a comfortable subsistence from the smallest area of soil. No community whose every member possesses this art, can ever be the victim of oppression of any of its forms. Such community will be alike independent of crowned-kings, money-kings, and land-kings.”

This is pretty heady stuff, radical even, a strongly pluralistic message about land. While Lincoln’s feeling that the nation might be more devoted to peace hasn’t exactly panned out, I think the rest still resonates. I read it to mean that as long as every American knows how to cultivate land, we will be free from oppression. Oppression from all sorts of kings, but perhaps also free from the oppression presented by hunger, obesity, and lack of community engagement. Knowing how to cultivate land is an essential ingredient of independence (on all sorts of levels). It is an art. It is a science. It is essential to survival. When I read these words more than 150 years after they were spoken, the clarity and strength and truth of them compels me to state again:

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

And if you haven’t snagged a copy, please do go to the McFarland website, order […]

Gardens Heal

Gardens heal.

After this weekend and the tragic, unthinkable events at UCSB, I needed some healing. Like thousands and thousands of others, I am a member of the UCSB community. I received four degrees from the campus, am a former staff member, and participate regularly in events and activities offered there. UCSB is where many of the seminal events of my life occurred. It is where I met my husband, where I gained my first professional experiences, where I learned so very, very much about so very, very many things. Every time I step onto the campus, I experience feelings of joy and possibility.

It has been a difficult weekend. Gardens heal. So I spent time in one.

As a Victory Grower, I try to model the value of gardening by working in gardens. Recently, I’ve been working on a congregational garden project at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Ventura. For several weeks, and with baby steps, we’ve been taking an unused space, improving it, and growing it.

This weekend, St. Paul’s church and garden were a healing place to be. Saturday, I shoveled mulch. Working hard in the quiet of the garden gave me time to think. My husband came by to work beside me for a bit, offering no words, but his usual quiet strength and wonderful companionship.

On Sunday, there was a message about life being a process of letting go (the pre-Ascension Sunday theme). There was a wonderful mash-up of music for a rogation week along with a Memorial Day hymn. After services, when I told the music director how much I had appreciated the music, she was delighted: she had chosen the hymns in honor of our gardeners.

Later that afternoon, members of Boy Scout Troop […]

By |May 26th, 2014|Categories: Other||0 Comments



I was privileged to spend most of this week with several hundred individuals who are working to transform food systems. Around 700 people gathered from 43 states and several countries to teach, learn, listen and share. We shared best practices, generated new ideas, discussed needs, and better equipped ourselves to #harvestchange in the food system.

The gathering was convened by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and was held in Detroit. This was fitting. Detroit has a storied history in urban agriculture, and is a center of innovation in the food system today.

Urban food production in Detroit gained traction during the Panic of 1893, when Mayor Hazen Pingree provided leadership for “Potato Patch Farms” to provide relief during a period of economic downturn. The value of this work was quickly seen, and the model spread to other urban areas. By 1898, at least 19 major American cities were sponsoring vacant lot projects on some scale.

Innovation and vision continue in Detroit, and we learned about many successful and creative programs this week, work that is transforming the food system. I cover some of the history of Hazen Pingree and Detroit’s gardening history and discuss contemporary work  – including the D-Town Farm – in my new book, “Sowing the Seeds of Victory.”

Detroit provides a shining example of how we can transform the food system, one garden, one person, one farm, one community at a time.

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

P.S. A special thanks to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for convening this – and previous – gatherings, and for providing space for these vital conversations to occur. New leaders emerge, new voices are heard, new work is generated, and we all move forward with a renewed sense of purpose and urgency […]