United States of America -- District of Columbia -- Washington
The Victory Garden is a produce garden on the east lawn of the National Museum of American History (NMAH), at 9th Street NW in Washington, D.C. The garden first opened on the west side of NMAH in May 15, 2001. Its creation coincided with NMAH's exhibition "Within These Walls..." - an entire two-and-a-half story New England house, originally built in the 1700s. Horticulturist Walter Howell of the Horticulture Services Division (later Smithsonian Gardens) maintained the garden until 2006, when it was sidelined due to construction on the NMAH building. When construction finished in autumn 2008, horticulturist Joseph Brunetti brought the garden out of dormancy. The Victory Garden continued until spring 2013, when Brunetti reestablished it on the east side of NMAH. While this new incarnation contains a few traditional single-crop garden rows that characterized the first garden, Brunetti designed the new space to be less traditional and more inviting, with curvilinear paths and companion planting. The original garden site was returned to general landscaping.
The creation of the Smithsonian's Victory Garden was inspired by the American victory gardens of the 1940s. These were vegetable gardens grown by citizens on the home front during World War II, promoted by the U.S. government so that farm produce could be saved for the armed forces. A similar program existed during World War I, but the World War II movement was extremely popular. At its peak, there were nearly twenty million garden plots, and their harvests made up 44 percent of America's total vegetables.
The vegetables in the Victory Garden are heirloom varieties that were available to gardeners during WWII. There are more than fifty organically-grown vegetable varieties. Different crops grow between the spring and fall. Some of the harvest is used in the kitchen of NMAH's Stars and Stripes Café.
Starting in 2014, the Victory Garden has been the site of an annual late-summer event called FOOD in the Garden, a collaboration between Smithsonian Gardens and American History (After Hours) which educates attendees on the historical and cultural connections between gardens and communities.
Plantings include Bronze Arrow lettuce (Lactuca sativa), D'Anjou pear trees (Pyrus communis 'D'Anjou'), Mortgage Lifter tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), eggplant (Solanum melongena), and pole beans (Phaselous vulgaris 'Dow Purple Podded').
Persons associated with the garden include: Walter Howell (horticulturist, 2001-2008), Joseph Brunetti (horticulturist, 2008- ).
Victory Garden related holdings consist of (35mm slides (photographs), negatives, photographic prints, and digital images)
Access to original archival materials by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens: email@example.com.
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Smithsonian Gardens Image Library, Archives of American Gardens, Smithsonian Institution.