WWI National War Garden Commission Poster
SHSND# 10935-P134War Gardens were the brain child of Charles Lathrop Pack. He came up with the idea in March 1917 (before the US entered the war) to increase the food supply without increasing the “use of land already cultivated, of labor already engaged in agricultural work, of time devoted to other necessary occupations, and of transportation facilities which were already inadequate to the demands made upon them.” (Pack, p. 1-2)
He organized the National War Garden Commission which included among its members Luther Burbank, representatives of several major universities, and the president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. (Pack, p. 9-10) The commission publicized the gardens with pamphlets, printed material for newspaper distribution, and colorful, propagandist posters.
The Commission stated as fact that most of the 30,000,000 WWI soldiers had been farmers before they were inducted into the armed forces. In addition, croplands in Europe had been deserted (farmers to soldiers) or devastated by warfare. Submarines had interfered with international shipping. To make matters worse, 1916 was a year of world-wide crop failures (acknowledged by Oscar Will in his 1917 catalog).