2018 Delco Victory Gardens - Strengthening the Delaware County Community through a United Purpose

Victory gardens, also called war gardens or food gardens for defense, were vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens planted at private residences and public parks in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and Germany during World War I and World War II. George Washington Carver wrote an agricultural tract and promoted the idea of what he called a “Victory Garden”. They were used along with Rationing Stamps and Cards to reduce pressure on the public food supply. Besides indirectly aiding the war effort, these gardens were also considered a civil "morale booster" in that gardeners could feel empowered by their contribution of labor and rewarded by the produce grown. This made victory gardens a part of daily life on the home front.

Early 20th century children’s food garden
The pilot program of community garden as the brainchild of  Ventura, California schoolteacher Zilda M. Rogers. Rogers who in 1909 wrote to the Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of California, Berkeley, who wrote in some detail about how her school garden work had progressed, what the successes and failures were, how the children were responding to the opportunity to garden, how her relationship with the children had changed as a result of the garden work and what she saw as potential for the future. “With the love of the school garden has grown the desire for a home garden and some of their plots at home are very good…Since commencing the garden work the children have become better companions and friends…and to feel that there is a right way of doing everything…it is our garden…We try to carry that spirit into our schoolroom.”

In today's world, Victory Gardens have a larger meaning...one which melds the actual purpose of the gardens during the War years with a thrust towards activism within the community. With victory gardens we have an opportunity to create a Delco brand of community activism where everyone's efforts is equal.

Victory Gardens will symbolize the efforts of the public during World War I, but also produce valuable results from a very diverse Delco community. Each plot will be tied to every other parcel throughout the County through a sense of sharing and good will that transcends the garden itself, by uniting people of various income, social, racial, religious and economic groups in a common purpose and for a common good.

This Victory Garden Reference Guide provides useful information for both novice and experienced gardeners on planning, planting, and maintenance of Victory Gardens.

Penn State Master Gardeners’ Role in
Delaware County’s World War I Remembrance Victory Gardens Project

Penn State Extension Master Gardeners of Delaware County promote research-based best gardening practices and environmental stewardship to educate the community.  They develop their horticultural expertise through participation in educational training classes conducted by Penn State University faculty and Extension staff.  Master Gardeners have served the home-gardening public for over 35 years in Pennsylvania by answering gardening questions, speaking to groups, writing gardening articles, working with youth, gardening in demonstration gardens, participating in the Penn State pollinator research program, and in many other ways.

As a community partner in Delaware County’s World War One Remembrance Victory Garden Project, the Master Gardeners provide their garden expertise by researching and developing a detailed reference guide on planting and caring for Victory Garden vegetables.  This guide will provide instructions on the best crops to plant in this area and when to plant them; siting and planning for a vegetable garden; soil testing, preparation, and the addition of soil amendments; intensive gardening methods; guidance on sowing seeds outdoors or using transplants; basic principles of fertilization and watering; and tips on disease prevention and pest control.  In addition, the Master Gardeners will provide consulting assistance to historic sites and community sites on how to plant and care for their Victory Gardens; distribute promotional posters and brochures throughout the community; and host a Garden Hotline to answer gardening questions specific to growing vegetables.

The Master Gardeners’ Garden Hotline number is 610-690-2671.