- Megan Bingham
During World War II, victory gardens were important to Americans around the country. The steel and tin industry was working hard on supplying the army with weapons, so there were not enough raw materials to make these and tin cans for vegetables. Trains were being used to carry soldiers instead of civilian food supplies. And, to make matters worse, Japan controlled most of the rubber factories overseas, which meant there was no rubber for new tires on trucks that carried food across the country.
Diana Hopkins, the young heroine of Diana's White House Garden, inspired the country to plant victory gardens of their own. Diana lived with her father, Harry Hopkins, President Roosevelt's chief advisor, in the White House during the war. She wanted to make her father and the President happy by doing her part in winning the war, but, after coming up with silly efforts (for example, Diana put sewing needles in all the satin chairs in the White House, thinking it would stop the "enemies" from coming in), she's at a loss on how she can help. That is, until she decides to help Eleanor Roosevelt and the groundskeeper, George, begin the White House's very own victory garden. Victory gardens were not new to wartime effort: during World War I, the National War Garden Commission was created to encourage Americans to contribute to the war effort by planting, fertilizing, harvesting and storing their own fruits and vegetables. After Diana's strenuous efforts, the vegetables begin to grow, not only in in her own backyard, but across the whole country.
The Roosevelts' Victory Garden was an amazing success. Around the United States, vacant land was turned into land for food production. During the war, an estimated 20 million gardens were planted, producing between 9-10 million pounds of food. Community centers offered classes on canning and harvesting for the winter months. To this day, Diana Hopkins continues to grow a vegetable garden in her backyard in Virginia. Based on Diana's fond childhood memories, Diana's White House Garden is truly inspirational!
Photo Credit: Eleanor and Diana's Victory Garden, WETA blog