Left: A World War II poster produced by the Stecher-Traung Lithograph Corporation of Rochester, New York.
To ensure enough food for American service members and civilians during World War II, the U.S. government promoted home gardening as a patriotic gesture that would also support those on the home front contending with food rationing.
With commercial farms steering more and more of their products to the troops, and trucks and transit focused on war work, it became more and more imperative for amateur farmers to produce vegetables and other foodstuffs closer to home – in backyard gardens, neighborhood plots, and even window boxes.
By CBSNews.com senior producer David Morgan
World War I
During World War I, Liberty Gardens (and later, Victory Gardens) grew out of the government's efforts to encourage home gardening among Americans, both to express their patriotism and to aid the war effort by freeing up food production for soldiers. Such programs created by the National War Garden Commission, the Woman's Land Army of America, and the United States School Garden Army (for students) helped mobilize agricultural labor for both public and private food production.
Home gardening, conservation and canning programs became a national priority, and were a daily reminder for those on the home front about the larger fight overseas.
After the end of WWI, the government continued to encourage Victory Gardens as a means of avoiding famine at home and in Europe as a result of the war.
"Our Food Is Fighting"
With the advent of World War II and the rationing of commercially-produced foods, Victory Gardens were once again promoted on the home front.
Big Apple Gardens
Victory gardening in Forest Hills, in the Queens borough of New York City, in June 1944.
According to the Department of Agriculture, more than 20 million Victory Gardens were planted in the U.S., from small town backyards to plots of land in big cities, and they produced nearly half of the vegetables grown during the war.
New York City
Left: Victory gardening in Forest Hills, in the Queens borough of New York City, in June 1944.
In "World War II in Mid-America" by Robert C. Daniels, Carlotte Mehlbrech, of Waupun, Wis., said, "You were expected to have a Victory Garden. It was very unusual if you didn't have some kind of garden."
"He Eats A Ton A Year"
A 1942 Department of Agriculture poster.
With more farm production going to the war effort, home gardeners were cultivated to make up the difference for domestic food consumption.
"Counts More Than Ever!"
A 1943 poster by artist Hubert Morley.
"Grow It Yourself"
Herbert Bayer (1900-1985) was an Austrian-born graphic designer, painter and photographer who brought his Bauhaus aesthetic to this 1942 WPA poster.
"Grow Your Own"
"Garden in 1945 for victory." Poster by illustrator Grover Strong.
"Am I Proud!"
"I'm fighting famine by canning food at home."
World War II poster from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Dick Williams (1908-1981) was a noted commercial illustrator for newspaper and magazine advertising during the 1930s-1950s, before transitioning to a career as a fine artist.
"Grow Your Own - Can Your Own"
"We'll have lots to eat this winter, won't we Mother?"
World War II poster from the U.S. Office of War Information.
Illustrator Alfred Parker (1906-1985) was a regular contributor to such publications as Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, McCall's, the Saturday Evening Post and Vogue.
"Going Our Way?"
"Be a Victory Farm Volunteer of the U.S. Crop Corps."
World War II poster for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, promoting the Victory Farm Volunteers, founded to help with the wartime shortage of farm labor under an umbrella agency, the United States Crop Corps.
Australian-born photographer Anton Bruehl (1900-1982) was best known for his fashion and advertising images that graced the pages of Vogue and Vanity Fair.
Social realist illustrator Stevan Dohanos (1907-1994) designed this poster for the wartime War Food Administration.
U.S. Crop Corps
A 1943 Department of Agriculture poster calling on students to contribute to farm labor efforts.
U.S. Crop Corps
A 1943 poster, illustrated by Morgan Douglas.
"Garden For Victory"
Left: Back cover of a 1943 Department of Agriculture "leader's handbook" on the production of Victory Gardens.