Rose Hayden-Smith • thevictorygrower.com

Stars and Stripes

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.

Stars and Stripes: WWI Gardens

The Stars and Stripes, America’s storied armed forces newspaper, made its debut in World War I. It began publication in February 1918, by order of General Pershing, leader of the American Expeditionary Force. It was published by the U.S. Army for its troops in France, printed in France, on borrowed presses, and distributed by trains, automobiles and motorcycles to American troops, also called “doughboys”. The WWI edition of The Stars and Stripes was published through June 13, 1919. As part of the research for my book, I scanned most of the seventy-one-week run of the WWI edition. It wasn’t easy: blurry Xerox copies and microfiche.

Now, though, as we enter the rolling centenary commemorations of this momentous war, this amazing resource is available online, through the Library of Congress. I encourage you to visit the site and learn more about the American experience during “The Great War.”

During WWI, American forces were distributed throughout the Western Front. American units were often combined with the forces of our European allies (including units of soldiers from Britain, France, and Italy). One goal of The Stars and Stripes was to provide a new, quickly mobilized and scattered army with a sense of common purpose and unity. Another goal was to provide information about what was occurring on the home front. A weekly publication, the newspaper’s eight-pages were packed with news from the home front. Nationally known journalists pitched in to help write pieces.  Per the Library of Congress, “At the peak of its production, The Stars and Stripes had a circulation of 526,000 readers.”

526,000 readers. And during the same year, America reportedly had 5,285,000 Liberty/Victory gardens.

The battlefront is the flip side of the home front, and I was not surprised to find […]