Victory Gardens, also called War Gardens or Food Gardens for Defense, were a part of daily life on the home front during World War II.
The vegetable, fruit and herb gardens planted at private residences and public parks were also considered morale boosters since they reduced the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. The home growers also felt a pride as they saw their labors rewarded by the produce that was grown.
A modern day relative of the Victory Gardens, which members of the Greatest Generation tended to during the war, is the Hydroponics Victory Garden Farm Cooperative system which will be introduced in the Fort Myers area Friday, Jan. 18, through the Invest in America's Veterans Foundation based in Cape Coral.
At 3 p.m., lot 2710 Ashwood St. in the Dunbar section of Fort Myers will be formally transferred to the IAVF through Wells Fargo and the Home Ownership Resource Center of Lee County.
The event, featuring free food, music and guest speakers, will be a celebration of the deeding and the groundbreaking at the property on that date. But members of IAVF feel the real celebration will come as the neighborhood garden grows into a community sustainable farm.
"We want the neighborhood involved," said Donald Graf, executive vice president of IAVF and a strong advocate for hydroponics gardening. "We will show how you can get fresh vegetables at a reduced cost in exchange for some volunteer time helping on the farm."
The hydroponics system, which can produce much higher crop yields in smaller growing areas, uses cultivation of plants in nutrient solution rather than in soil. The water stays in the system and can be reused, thus lowering water costs. Pests and diseases are easier to get rid of than in soil because of the mobility of the growing containers. Because it is a controlled system, it is easier to harvest and no pollution is released into the environment
Graf feels the program can be a win-win for everyone involved. The hope of IAVF is to create jobs, thus providing some income for veterans.
For the community, it will provide wholesome food at a reasonable cost. Contributing time by working in the Victory Garden can bring a sense of fulfillment to the individual while providing nutritional produce at a discount.
Graf envisions the neighborhood farm becoming a a focal point and meeting place for the community. IAVF will also make the Victory Garden available as an education center for the local children and offer it to the community to use for special events.
It can also be used for special holiday events such as an Easter egg hunt or a Christmas visit with Santa.
Most importantly, the hydroponics garden can bring a sense of pride to the community, much as the Victory Gardens did for our predecessors on the home front seven decades ago.