• What If?

Victory Garden Redux?

What's Old is New Again


In the 1940’s during in WWII, the United States Department of Agriculture encouraged the planting of Victory gardens. This would help lower the price of vegetables needed by the US War department to feed the troops. In 1943 there were 18 million Victory gardens in the United States. Everyone was encouraged to plant in any space they had around their homes.

A few years ago when I was reading about Victory gardens I found this booklet the Smithsonian Gardens published, on how to grow your own victory garden. It’s free to the public, and you can download it here. It will give you a timeline on seed starting, planting and what varieties of seeds were used.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic requiring many of us to shelter in place, with the safer at home orders everywhere we look, and with some describing grocery stores as ground zero for the virus, I began to wonder if the concept of Victory Gardens time had come—again.

It reminded me of our author Sarah Sailer and how she ripped up her front yard to feed her family safe and nutritious food. She had little to no experience when she started, but her passion and determinate were her guiding light. Soon the garden expanded and became a CSA (community supported agriculture).


Her efforts got noticed by Mother Earth News magazine in 2014 and she was named a Homesteader of the Year and was featured again in their 2017 article, “Farming the Neighborhood”. It also prompted her to meet with us at What If? Publishing to help her publish her story in A Thrifty Good Life, Reflections on my unexpected journey toward homegrown simplicity and healing, for which she has won two national independent publishing awards.

In the book she talks not only about how she started her garden, but also includes all the things she learned about the process, good and bad. It is full of tips like her favorite seed starting soil recipe, composting, and making stock from your vegetable scraps. She includes recipes for making yogurt, mayonnaise, pesto, sauerkraut and more. It’s a heart-warming and fun story full of beautiful photography and step-by-step processes.

Maybe its time for each of us to turn our attention to our own safety and sustainability. Me, I’m planting my own version of a mountain Victory garden.


—Liz

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