IN 1944, AT THE HEIGHT of World War II, 20 million home gardeners across the United States dug deep to support the war effort. As the country poured the bulk of its resources into the conflict, Americans grew Victory Gardens to bolster the domestic food supply.
Nearly a century later, Jes Walton is trying to bring those gardens back. As the Food Campaigns manager at Green America, an environmental advocacy organization, Walton is one of the people behind Climate Victory Gardens, a campaign to encourage climate-smart home gardening. From its launch, Walton saw a steady trickle of people add their gardens to the campaign’s crowd-sourced map. Social distancing requirements have turned that trickle into a flood, with Walton citing a 60% increase in inquiries from 2019.
As many Americans face the prospect of empty grocery store shelves and emptier bank accounts, gardening can provide a sense of stability as well as food security. The newfound interest has created a rush on seeds, with some larger suppliers setting strict limits on new orders. Amidst the frenzy, small seed companies have proven resilient.