Victory Gardens and Victory Salads

For History & Geography night, we read from American Kids in History – WWII. We read the section about Victory Gardens and Victory Salads. During that time in our history, people returned to Gardening in record numbers as a patriotic thing to do. We learned that in 1943 Americans planted almost 21 million gardens. And in 1944, the last full year of the war, victory gardens supplied more than 40 percent of the nation’s fresh vegetables. Schools planted gardens to supply the school cafeteria.

It still amazes me the difference between the collective effort of our people during that war, and the total nonchalance of our nation as we have been at war since March of 2003, and everything in America seems to be going along as if there is no war. We still hold pagaents, and awards ceremonies for blockbuster movies, we still shop for expensive items we do not need (maybe not individually, but as a nation), we seem to be at war more within our own borders – among grown-ups, among the adults running for office – than we are focused on a cause of ending the war and bringing our people home.

I saw a comedian talking about the luxury we have as Americans that we have this choice, that it is a parental debate – at what point do we talk to our kids about war? We have that luxury in our country because bombs aren’t blowing up our kids schools. In other countries around the world, war is a part of life, it is what kids grow up with. They see their families dwindling, their cities torn apart, and they lose limbs to minefields.

This was not a discussion of the really hard parts of war. This was actually a sweet look at things American families did to save, conserve,, “Make it Do, or Do Without.” We just scratched the surface in our 20 minutes of reading. As I’m looking through this book again, there are all sorts of fun projects for kids that help them to see what it was like to live with shortages and rationing.

On our little farm, we have put away food for the winter with canning. It is our first year, and we are already learning so much about what to plant, what we don’t need quite so much of – I think we may be sick of tomatoes by the end of winter. Next year, we will grow a better variety of foods.

The book has lots of games that people played for entertainment when money was tight, and everyone was pinching pennies, which is something we are working at learning to do too. We will probably check out this book from the library a couple of times before we’ve gotten through all the activities and crafts.

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