The Victory Garden originated during World War II in the United States and Canada as a means to supplement domestic food supplies. The Allied governments required substantial foodstuffs for their soldiers overseas. So they appealed to the citizenry to grow produce in their backyards, in hopes that the increased domestic food production would offset increased military consumption, and thus hasten the Allied "victory." In the United States, victory gardens produced forty percent of the food consumed at their peak. Interestingly, after the war ended in 1945, the US Government ceased actively encouraging victory gardening, which led to modest food shortages in the summer of 1946.

The Victory Garden is also a gardening show syndicated on PBS in the US. It debuted in 1975 hosted by Jim Crockett. Robert Thomson hosted from 1979 to 1991, and was in turn succeeded by Roger Swain from 1991 to 2002. With Swain as host, the show concentrated on gardening in the New England region, while several national and international correspondents showcased botanical gardens and gardening styles from around the United States and around the world. For example, the (aptly-named) correspondent Adrian Bloom toured several estates and classic gardens of Italy and England during his tenure. While probably beyond the abilities and resources of the home gardener, his showcases were really quite lovely and inspiring, and Bloom did an excellent job exploring these gardens and presenting some of their history.

Beginning in 2002, the format of the show was changed quite a bit, and new host Michael Weishan spends quite a bit more time on practical garden design. I don't watch it much anymore, since, alas, I don't own a home or space to garden. However, despite the change in format, The Victory Garden remains one of the more relaxing television programs in existence in the United States (second perhaps only to "The Joy of Painting" with the late Bob Ross).

Of course, if one really wants to relax, may I suggest turning off the TV and getting your hands into some cool, damp earth instead?

On a sadder note, long-time host of The Victory Garden Robert Thomson passed away on October 2, 2003. He passed away in Topsfield, Massachusetts, from complications of Alzheimer's Disease.

Various, including for historical information.

Victory Gardens were also a feature of the 1970's, as a result of sharply higher food prices in America as the result of stagflation; hippie agrarianism, the book The Secret Life of Plants and the nostalgia craze also contributed. Surprisingly, not a few people old enough to remember WWII had continued vegetable growing throughout the postwar years, and these were joined by various other people trying to save a few pennies (i.e. everybody), some of whom banded together to form community gardens in empty lots which still remain.

As I recall, they were of but moderate success. Vegetable gardening, to be a viable food source, takes a great deal more space than floriculture; that and the relative inexperience of many of the would-be agriculturists made yields much lower than expected -- as one contemporary source put it "I spent $50 for one salad at the end of the year."

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