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Freedom Gardens – Grow Your Own Food

by Tiffany in Gardening

A victory garden poster

I have been reading about WWII Victory/Freedom Gardens lately. I am not sure when the concept began but our history is rich with stories of people who used times of war and economic depression (like The Great Depression) to get proactive and start growing their own food. During WWII you could find posters encouraging you to start your own garden and avoid the restrictions of food rations and to become more self sufficient during those stressful times. Families grew their own food on what land they had. Other people gardened in vacant lots, on rooftops, and in city parks. Public schools even designated areas for gardens and the students maintained them.

The purpose behind the freedom/victory garden was to lessen the demand on commercially grownPoster - Plant a Victory Garden produce and thus more would be available to the Armed Forces and lend-lease programs. It reduced demand on materials used in food processing and canning. Railroads could focus on transporting munitions and not food. And of course giving the people an important job to do helped maintain the morale of Americans on the home front. By preserving fruit and vegetables for future use they were also preparing for the worst.

So what does this have to do with the present? Well, we are facing hard economic times right now. If ever there was time to bring the freedom gardens back I think now is one of those times. We have needed them for a long time actually.

Although the reasons for starting one might be slightly different. By growing your own food you will become less dependent on greedy corporations to feed your family and become more self sufficient. You will save money by not having to buy food at the higher prices you see now and you will save gas money too. You can grow enough to can and preserve food for later use. You can grow and extra row for the needy in your local community. You can grow heirloom fruits and veggies and help preserve our heritage and the great flavors and colors of these lesser known varieties. You can help send the message that during times of recession the answer is hard work and voluntary simplicity not “shopping” as our current President would have us believe…where the only entity who gets ahead is the corporation.

Also, we may want to garden for food security reasons just like they did in WWII…not because we think we will run out of food but because conventional food growers often use noxious chemicals on our food. Their dirty practices may also expose us to things like salmonella as we have seen just recently with spinach and tomatoes.

To that end I am now calling my modest garden a freedom garden. You can see some pictures of what we have here…I will be adding more as the season progresses. I am growing several varieties of lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, cabbage, spinach, beans, 4 varieties of tomatoes, strawberries, Grow Your Own Foodblackberries, squash, and watermelon. We will also be growing our own pumpkins this year. The items we like that we are not growing I will be buying at my local Farmer’s Market. Corn for instance takes up too much space so we can buy it from our farm neighbors. There is also a farm nearby that sells raw nuts and some fruits we won’t be growing. We will be getting apples from a nearby orchard.

It is a wonderful feeling to grow your own food and feed your family with nothing but your sweat and hard work. It is also a great feeling to become less dependent on “the man”. I also like teaching my kids important lessons…aka where food comes from and how to grow it yourself! Preserving food is also another great skill. One book I highly recommend on that topic is Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning, it is full of great information on preservation techniques using salt, oil, sugar, alcohol, vinegar, drying, and lactic fermentation.

If you don’t have a yard to garden in you might try some of the following:

1. Plant in containers on your porch, patio, or window.

2. Look for a community garden that will give you a designated spot or plot to garden. You can also join up with friends or family and plant at one of their homes if they have the space.

3. Find a small secret place to garden at a local park. I know one gentleman who gardens in various places in Central Park!

4. Do you have an elderly neighbor who used to garden but can’t anymore? Volunteer to work their garden in exchange for half the produce.

5. Buy from local farms and skip the middleman.

So now it is your turn. Are you gardening to produce your own food this year? What is your motivation?

gardening in a freedom garden

Photo Credit

  • Zoe

    What a great post Tiffany, I love your tips for those without a garden too. I have started growing my own vegetables this year, and I am really enjoying the experience. We moved into our house in May so we were a little late to prepare the soil, so instead we are growing everything in containers. I blogged about how I got started a couple of weeks ago and I will be posting an update soon – my potatoes have shot up and the first little tomatoes are just starting to appear.

  • naturehills

    I just love reading about people getting involved with gardening again. I expanded my vegetable garden this year and I plan to expand it again next year.

  • I am going to start calling my little container garden my Victory Garden. We have a tomato, three jalapeños, and several herbs. (Why yes, we are growing salsa. I just need a lime tree.)

  • Brooke

    Right now my garden is a onion I found at work that was already sprouting and some lettuce my partner’s parents planted in a pot here. Both of which are growing well despite me leaving them pretty much alone. It’s been raining often here, 2-3 times a week. I first heard about Victory gardens when I was a child. I also have been thinking such gardens would be a good way to help solve the energy crisis. It also is a good way to ensure that foods are kept intact. Food on a roof top or in a residential lawn will not be exposed to genetically modified pollen that is ruining organic chops through out the country. Bees also thrive better in urban environments because pesticides are not used on plants and flowers are everywhere for decoration. Or in back woods environments where families have property that has gone wild and has native species of wildflowers and plants. Residental gardens are easier to keep organic and also can be a more controled environment creating more yield.

    My sister last year had a garden that was only one square yard. From it she got zucchini that were HUGE, butternut squash and tomatoes. She purchased pickle cucumbers from a local farmers market and picked her own. She also bought a bushel of apples and made her own apple sauce.

  • Elizabeth

    Loved this post! We don’t have much of a yard, but I’ve just come from our weekly local farmer’s market, which supplies fresh local produce for 6 months of the year. For anyone else in/near Chicago, here’s a list:

  • Dawn

    I have been so busy expanding our garden and setting up an orchard. I have so many italian green beans growing I think I will be canning for a week straight! LOL I will also be canning tomatoes. We also have sweet corn, 2 different squashes, carrots, and sunflowers. I have over 50 strawberry plants producing and am ordering another 50. I just got 3 blueberry plants and ordered 10 more. We had one grape and just bought 2 more. We also just bought 3 blackberry plants and 1 raspberry. I already had 3 raspberry. I also just ordered 3 more raspberry and 3 more blackberry plants. Next year we will be expanding more for a bigger and better orchard. We are also trying to get away from relying on big businesses. I will be doing a lot of farmers market buying the next couple of years. But it keep the girls and I busy. We are getting ready to head outside again to water some more.

  • Rick

    Dear, dear Tiffany

    Your country is *not* at war; your leaders just want you to think you’re at war…..please, don’t get fooled y the warmongers.

    No one — *no one* — is making war on the United States now; not Latin America or Cuba or Venezuela, not Russia, not Iraq (!), and certainly not China. NO ONE!!

    So instead of focusing on “victory” gardens, why not be realistic and say it like it really is:
    – anyone concerned about the fate of the planet should be either growing or sourcing their food from as local a source as possible…
    – that, thanks to the EPA and their equivalents in other countries around the world, we really don’t know what we’re eating anymore (from GMO’s, to toxic chemicals, to bacteria, to salmonella, to DDT from those lovely veggies from Mexico, etc.)
    – that consuming food that must travel often thousands of miles is phenomenaly wasteful, not to mention that every tomato (for example) you purchase off the supermarket shelves was picked totally green for transposrt purposes, and then fumigated with gas to artifically ripen it. Tomatoes are so easy to grow!! For all your readers, google “Seeds of Change” to get your new start in life…
    – farm labour, the labour “hired” to pick most of the crops which are brilliantly displayed on supermarket shelves, is super-exploited labour. More often than not, farm labour in the USA (and Canada) is underpaid with horrendously long hours of employment, and no possibility of filing grievances of any kind, or of returning home; slavery of old, at best! This reason alone tells us why any right-minded person should shun supermarket produce. Buy LOCAL!! Get to KNOW the person you’re buying from. Check out local farmers’ markets, and support them only (unless you can grow your own).

    Rick (in Canada)

  • Okay, excellent post. I’ve stumbled this. I need to get into gardening and you might have motivated me.

  • Dear, dear Rick…I didn’t elaborate on what I think about the “war” but I agree with everything you said. This “war” whether actual, imaginary, justified or no we are still suffering in many ways because of this nightmare el presidente has unleashed. So yes freedom/victory gardens are needed and perhaps people that won’t do it for all the reasons you suggested just might because they are angry about the war and our economy…I say whatever works.

  • Hi Tiffany,

    We have a our own Freedom Garden too!! We’re growing a lot of the same things you are! :) We’ve also started a Freedom/Community garden for the locals and it’s just starting to bloom- tomatoes, eggplants, bell peppers, and zuchinni only over there…the overgrowth from our garden will get sold at the Farmer’s Market. This is our first year doing a community garden but we’ve been gardening for 6 yrs. since we’ve owned the place!! Gonna have to look into that book- I’d love to preserve food without canning…thanks for sharing!!! You’re the woman! :)

  • Uncle B

    Recently retired to a smaller income, studied the web on gardening, food preserving etc., and went at it! Got a pressure canner, food dryer, freezer. Grew a garden. Now we have a very small food bill, shelves stocked for the winter, freezers filling up, dryer goes all the time! Last year we gave food to the food bank, expect to do the same this year. If every North American grew potatoes on the southern lawn of their homes, and we made Vodka from it in the fall, we could solve the energy crisis, or at least get drunk enough to not give a damn!

  • Nature Deva

    We have grown much of our own produce (greens and veggies mostly) for sev’l years and this year we added many fruit bushes and grape vines. I signed up to do the “100 foot diet challenge” a few mos. ago over on the Path to Freedom blog (the Derveas family). It really inspires me to keep adding new and different food to see how much edible landscaping I can incorporate out my back door. Out front, we just added another large flower bed (3 now) and have very little lawn left yay! Next year we are considering growing veggies in that new bed but we are on a semi-busy street in a school zone so it may not go over too well – or people might help themselves, too!

    We are going to try to extend our growing season by building more cold frames and putting a hoop house over our garden beds to see how long they will keep producing.

    I have that book you mentioned and like it because I became a raw vegan at the beginning of the year and won’t really can much unless it’s not heated (I do have a few recipes) so we will just do more root cellar storage in our basement closet and we store seeds for sprouting and have been doing lots of dehydrating both in the sun and in my temp. controlled dehydrator. I have failed at making sauerkraut before but we are determined to try again and also to make kim chee, too this year. Fermented foods are so good for you.

    Good post – I’m so glad to see so many more people empowering themselves by growing their own food!

  • Angela

    I have a little container garden. I am growing big tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, green peppers, and carrots. I am really happy I started the tomatoes since they have pulled most of them from the shelves around here.
    I started this garden so that the kids can have pride in growing something themselves. They helped pick out what to grow and they helped plant them. They also help with the watering and such. We have a lot of fun. I also wanted to grow these things because the prices for things have gotten so high and I doubt they will be getting any lower.
    THANK YOU for such wonderful information!!

  • i love this post, partly because i also made the same connection when i posted about my first garden! i definitely see my little container garden as “doing my part” for making the world a better place.

  • Gathered the news on was interesting and shared the contents to my teacher too.

  • Jennifer Knox

    Thanks for all of the great tips! I currently don’t have a garden, unless you count my three hosta plants! But once we move, I have dreams of several raised beds with ingredients for my favorite Italian and Mexican cooking and also pumpkins and squash for the Fall season. I really should get something going, even if its just herbs, in my containers on the patio. Thanks for the push!

  • grrrl

    I like the idea of finding a secret spot at your local park, then at least you know it will get watered!! But, seriously, my sister does this in her Tampa neighborhood. She and some friends secretly plant seeds all over the neighborhood. Then reap the harvest!

    We have our own garden and love not having to buy produce during the summer months, have not expanded into preserving, but hope to soon. It’s a great lesson for the kids to see where food really comes from!

  • Melody

    Wonderful article Tiffany! I don’t grow as much of our food as I used to but I still have my lovely orchard and a big pot filled with tomato and pepper plants. I pick up produce at the farmer’s market and our grocery store carries produce from local growers.

    I like to preserve produce in season by dehydrating, freezing or canning. It tastes so much better than the commercial versions and I know exactly what’s in it.

  • Jenn

    Great post, I’m so glad you’re doing this. We started a garden for the first time in YEARS. It’s my 5 year old daughters very first and she had a blast helping out. It’s so true..what happened to the simple things in life, I mean growing up, we lived off of our garden and got eggs & milk from a farm, meat from a butcher, made our own bread and apple pies were filled w/ apples from the apple tree out back. We need to get back into living off of our land. Next year I can see my garden being twice as big.

  • I love this post Tiffany! Great information.

    We don’t currently have a garden as my parents grow one every year and we share the vegetables with them. I have been thinking about starting a small one to give my boys the experience and to help reduce our grocery bill.

  • Lucy Edwards

    Enjoyed reading this article, it’s great that people are finally realising that buying and eating local food does reduce the distance that the food has to travel.
    I’ve also read about this on

  • Cindi Overfield

    This is a great idea. We had community gardens in Denver. Everyone helped plant, water and weed. It was good because the community shared the food and people got to know each other. I grew up a country girl and never understood why more people didn’t grow their own food.

    Wonderful post!

  • Robin

    Hopefully this information has inspired more people to grow their own food or at least buy local. I have my own garden of zucchini, cucumbers, green beans, 3 types of peppers, romaine lettuce and another garden of herbs. It is very satisfying to be able to pick and eat something that I grew. I just hope the cute little bunny leaves me with something to harvest this year!

  • Hi Tiffany,
    This is great information and very motivating. There is nothing like fresh-picked home-grown fruit and vegetables. Not that I’m a gardener… but we had 70 acres and our own garden when I was very young, and I have never tasted peas and carrots like I remember those tasing – although organic, locally-grown ones do come close.

  • Miss Rachel

    Thank you for your submission for the Homesteading Carnival.
    Here is the link for the Carnival.
    Come take a look!

  • My depression garden is going extremely well. It’s the best garden I’ve had in six years. Our land is very wooded so we are using our elderly neighbor’s garden plot. He very kindly extended the invitation, which I gladly accepted.
    Our tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumbers, summer squash, beans, melons, pumpkins and winter squash are coming along very well.

  • Melanie

    I read about Victory gardens just yesterday. I have been thinking we need to bring this concept back into mainstream America in these times, but to continue this idea of self-sufficiency, not just during war or economic trouble. It’s good for the mind body and soul. “During the depression, we were just fine. We had our own food, we had everything we needed.”

  • Thanks for sharing, very relevant to our nation’s current state.

  • Patti

    Awesome post. We also have a garden for the first time in years. Mostly it was because we are trying to eat organic and the prices were just crazy. Now that it is growing it is so much fun. DS loves to go and see what has grown since the previous day.

    We have had raised beds for years – sitting empty for many years but this year they are full and I even have a few veggies growing in containers. I wish we had more but this is basically our first year of a real garden. I have pumpkins ready to go into the garden and hopefully we will have plenty for Halloween and fall. This truely is a learning experience. So far our beans and peppers aren’t doing much so I may have to rethink them for next year.

    We also had to remove a tree (disease) and instead of replacing it with a tree I think we are going to extend our garden.

    Personally I love the idea of not having to buy things from the grocery store and being self sufficient. We are a long ways away and will always need to buy some things – not cold enough here to grow apples or cherries but hope to add some citrus trees and anything else that will produce fruit and veggies.

  • Laura @ Laura Williams’ Musings

    I am stopping by to invite you to participate in the first edition of the The Carnival of Home Preserving that will be posted at Laura Williams’ Musings on Monday July 14th.

    It is a Carnival to Share Recipes and How-To’s for Canning, Freezing, Dehydrating (drying), and Root Cellaring of Fruits, Vegetables, and Herbs.

    Deadline to Submit: every Sunday at 2pm EST

    Carnival is to be posted by that Monday on the respective Host’s blog.

    Link To Submit Post: Blog Carnival Submission

    Everyone is welcome to join in.


  • JR

    Hey all, I have just started growing my own tomatoes, and I love it.. I only have a garden about two feet by four feet and it was like beach sand when I started.. after a few bags of composte and a few plants lost to a late snow storm I have all sorts of little buddies out there. I am going to try more companion gardening next season, with more tea plants. But one thing I have really discovered in the past few years is the huge garden that surrounds us all. Wild foods have become a staple in my fridge.. From black currant, choke cherry, or crabapple wine to nan king cherryjelly or pin cherry jam it is all just out your door. Last summer I wqas able to make enough Nan King jam to last me all winter and be super ready for x-mas gifts, and all the fruit came from within seven square blocks of my apartment in downtown Calgary. Nothing is better than taking a nice long summer walk, picking berries along the way, and then going home and whipping up a few cold drinks with your find. I do stay away from more “kept” looking gardens as to avoid an over zelous pesticide or fertilizer user.. So pick up a book to Safely find the food growing right in your (or your neighbor’s) back yard. Be warned though, living in a city i have found most people have bad associations with people in bushes.. so try and make alot of noise lol! Great post by the way I like the “Victory Garden” theme.. it could really help bring a sense of community to people with loved ones overseas right matter how much we may Know they shouldnt be there..but thats another post all together. Have a great day all

  • ozamerican

    I think a lot of Americans are finally catching on to the fact that the reason a lot of other countries seemed “poorer than” is because they always did pay a large price for fuel/petrol/ Imagine how you’ve had to adjust of you’ve spend the past 20 years spending 4 times what americans paid for gasoline!

    But we made do, and Americans always looked down on us as “having a lower standard of living.”

    In Australia, you still hang your clothes out to dry on the ol’ Hills Hoist, you still take the train to work, you still unplug all your applicances when you’re not using them, you still grow your herbs and veg and fruit out back in the yard if you have one–just like you always have.

    Do y’all Americans now understand why the rest of the world feels a little unsympathetic to your plight?

    You should have had the pleasure (I mean that genuinely) of living in Australia for the past 10 years.