A Local Victory


During World War II, gardens were planted all over the country: in people’s front and back yards, in public parks, and on vacant lots for the purpose of supporting the war effort and raising public morale. The logic being, if people were growing their own food, more energy could be devoted to the war effort. At one point, Victory Gardens produced a tremendous 41 percent of all the produce consumed in the U.S.

Just think about the environmental difference it would make to have Victory Gardens back – even on a small scale. Localized, intensive, urban food production could lead to less mass use of pesticides, more greenery producing oxygen and absorbing CO2, fewer food miles, less packaging, more efficient use of water, and fresher, tastier, unprocessed food available to more people, particularly in the inner city. Whew – that’s quite a list.

Artist Amy Franceschini has been working with a coalition of gardeners, other artists, politicians, and city officials to get a modern Victory Garden project going in San Francisco. The goal is to start 10 demonstration gardens, a network of urban gardeners, a seed bank, and to eventually inhabit a portion of the original Victory Garden in Golden Gate Park.

The group provides subsidized starter kits to residents who want to start a garden. This includes delivery of the following: raised bed materials, soil, starter plants, nutrients, and a drip irrigation system. An expert gardener will help get it all started and come back for one follow-up visit. Victory Gardens even gave some of the first gardens away for free. Now the garden supplies and consultation are provided on a sliding scale. 

Check out the photos of Amy’s art installation at the MOMA that started it all! And, a quick web search reveals what looks like a movement, and not just in San Francisco!

Revive Victor Gardens
Victory Garden Drive
Kitchen Gardeners

Image: Burpee Gardens

Vanessa Barrington

Vanessa Barrington is a San Francisco based writer and communications consultant specializing in environmental, social, and political issues in the food system.