The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is calling on people to submit photos of their wartime vegetable gardens as it gets ready to mark 80 years since the outbreak of World War II and the Dig for Victory campaign.
The charity will display advisory material and wartime propaganda that inspired people to grow more food to supplement ration-book diets at its library and gardens in the autumn and will include photos of families’ own gardens and allotments.
The RHS began working with the Ministry of Agriculture on the Dig for Victory campaign at the point at which war broke out in 1939, having already begun making detailed plans in preparation for war in 1938. Advice was distributed via pamphlets, leaflets and exhibition packs that toured towns and villages across the country and included guides to cultivating vegetables all year round, the storing of produce and making a compost heap.
With wartime shortages gardeners had to show a great deal of ingenuity, creating vegetable plots in unlikely places. Employees at the Wolsey Motors in Birmingham made cloches out of scrap car windscreens for their workplace allotment. By 1943 it was estimated that around 55% of households were growing fruit and vegetables and their efforts made an important contribution to the nation’s health.
Fiona Davison, Head of Libraries and Collections at the Royal Horticultural Society, said: “RHS information and advice helped get a nation growing at a time when food supplies were at an historic low. Many are likely to recall parents and relatives turning previously unloved plots into efficient and prolific green spaces. We’re asking the public to share those pictures and memories with us so we can celebrate the contribution of gardening to our wartime history.”
Photos and additional information for the Dig for Victory exhibit should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dig for Victory will be on display at RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey, RHS Garden Rosemoor in Devon, RHS Garden Hyde Hall in Essex and RHS Garden Harlow Carr in Yorkshire from 14th October – 17th November.
For more information:
Royal Horticultural Society