The Smithsonian Institution invites you to visit its Victory Garden, an outdoor garden produced in conjunction with the Within These Walls... exhibition at the National Museum of American History, Behring Center. Using a design from a 1943 pamphlet, the Horticulture Services Division of the Smithsonian Institution is re-creating a World War II victory garden on the terrace outside the Museum's cafeteria. The 130-foot long garden contains over fifty varieties of vegetables and flowers that change with the seasons. The vegetables are heirloom species, older varieties that were available to gardeners during the 1940s.
Each plant has a different growing season, so you'll see different species in the garden at different times of the year.
During regular museum hours, the victory garden may be viewed at a distance from the cafeteria and will be accessible from the Museum's grounds (this access is not ADA accessible).
What Is a Victory Garden?
Victory gardens were vegetable gardens planted during the world wars to ensure an adequate food supply for civilians and troops. Government agencies, private foundations, businesses, schools, and seed companies all worked together to provide land, instruction, and seeds for individuals and communities to grow food.
From California to Florida, Americans plowed backyards, vacant lots, parks, baseball fields, and schoolyards to set out gardens. Children and adults fertilized, planted, weeded, and watered in order to harvest an abundance of vegetables.
Colorful posters and regular feature articles in newspapers and magazines helped to get the word out and encouraged people to stick with it. The goal was to produce enough fresh vegetables through the summer for the immediate family and neighbors. Any excess produce was canned and preserved for the winter and early spring until next year's victory garden produce was ripe.
Throughout the World War II years, millions of victory gardens in all shapes and sizes--from window boxes to community plots--produced abundant food for the folks at home. While the gardens themselves are now gone, posters, seed packets and catalogs, booklets, photos and films, newspaper articles and diaries, and people's memories still remain to tell us the story of victory gardens.
Our Family Remembers
Whether they fought in the military or used ration coupons to buy food, everyone participated in the war effort. Ask your family members and older adult friends what they remember about World War II and the home front.
Learn more about victory gardens.
Learn more about Mary Scott, who lived in the house featured in the Within These Walls... exhibition and planted a victory garden in her yard during World War II.
View the kitchen where Mary Scott preserved vegetables grown in her victory garden during the war.
Learn more about the Smithsonian's victory garden.
...that during World War II, nearly 20 million Americans planted victory gardens? Their efforts growing and preserving their own food saved the nation's war products for the armed forces and Allies. Ipswich resident Mary Scott was among the millions of American women who used home canning equipment to preserve fruits and vegetables from her garden.