Community Garden timeline:
Detroit was locked in the worst economic slumps in its history, beset by unemployment and covered in abandoned lots. Then Mayor Hazen Pingree envisioned a blooming city through his “Potato Patch” program. The city elites scoffed at the plan. But the city’s idled hungry working class rallied behind the idea.
By 1896 1,700 Detroit families managed gardens covering more than 400 acres. It became known as the “Detroit Plan” it spread and took root in similarly devastated cities like New York & Philadelphia
World War 1
First great national gardening mobilization came two decades later. during World War 1. President Woodrow Wilson started the US School Garden Army, funding for the program actually came from the War Department. He tapped the Bureau of Education to install gardens in public schools as an educational tool. In Los Angeles there were 13,000 school gardens. The motto for the program was “A garden for every child, every child in a garden”. The School Garden Army was just one of several national programs that “encouraged Americans to express their patriotism by producing and conserving food”. Wilson promoted a civic gardening boom through the Committee on Public Information, which hired writers, artist, scholars and advertising professionals to create marketing campaigns to promote school, home and community gardening. “Youth gardeners were recast as soldiers of the soil”, no plot was left uncultivated lest it be considered “slacker land”. “Gardens were ‘munitions plants’, garden furrows became ‘trench’s’ and food was referred to as ‘ammunition’.
This history provided fertile ground for the establishment of “Victory Gardens” in World War 2