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Wartime home food prodction


According to A History of the Garden in New Zealand,

Wartime had also encouraged home food production. The Press of 5 October 1939 carried a report about a meeting conducted in Christchurch the previous evening by the Canterbury Horticultural Society to promote the production of vegetables in home gardens: ‘Home gardeners could materially assist in the nation’s war effort, said the Mayor (Mr R. M. Macfarlane, MP), who presided.’ The following year, women in the city organised to grow vegetables for institutions such as orphanages that might otherwise go short. They grew their crops at home, and in a half-acre plot they ploughed up at Abberly Park in suburban St Albans. Women’s involvement with gardening of all kinds no doubt became much more pronounced during the war years. Nancy M Taylor suggests in The Home Front, however, that domestic gardening fell off with the onset of war because of mobilisation, overtime and the Home Guard’.

It was not until the middle of 1943 that the Government initiated a ‘Dig for Victor’ campaign along the lines of the British one. Wellington’s Evening Post carried this advertisement on 15 September of that year: ‘Make every yard of ground yield. Beg, buy or borrow a spade and Dig for Victory. That section of yours must not be idle. You will need a garden. A garden will feed you. Grow vegetables that will keep your family fit. Give them a balanced diet and greens the whole year round. Help yourself and help your country. Listen to any North Island YA and ZB station every Thursday night for practical instruction.’ In a similar vein, the introductory article in the first issue of the New Zealand Gardener, published in September 1944, notes that in wartime ‘the raising of foodstuffs overshadows every other branch of horticulture’.

Paul Walker, Towards the Modern Garden. In A History of the Garden in New Zealand, Matthew Bradbury, ed. 1995. Penguin Books, Auckland, New Zealand.

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