With the United States declaring war on Japan in 1941, 75 years ago the effects of the country’s entry into World War II were being felt.
One patriotic activity on the home front was the planting of home “victory gardens” to forestall a food shortage.
During a victory garden workshop on Saturday at the Wilton Historical Society, children will learn that planting these gardens helped ensure there was enough food for our soldiers fighting around the world. Because canned vegetables were rationed, gardens also helped people stretch their ration coupons.
Eating locally sourced food is very popular now, but it was a necessity then since trains and trucks were used to transport soldiers, vehicles, and weapons, not fruits and vegetables.
According to the historical society, popular garden vegetables were tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, beets, and peas. The gardens were responsible for bringing Swiss chard and kohlrabi to the American dinner table because they were easy to grow.
At their peak there were more than 20,000,000 victory gardens planted across the United States, accounting for 40% of all vegetables grown.
Here in Wilton, 426 residents had victory gardens in 1943, according to Bob Russell’s book, Wilton, Connecticut. Some even went further and began raising pigs. Wilton’s pig population grew to 150 by April 1943, but feed grain was limited and there were government rules on hog slaughter.
As Russell says, “Nothing was easy.”