This visit took an hour to observe and analyze all of the plants as well as read the signs to learn about the history and information relevant to this garden.
On a trip to Washington D.C. in mid-September, I visited the “Gardens for Victory” exhibit area outside of the Smithsonian’s American History Museum. This garden is abundant with plants grown in victory gardens during World War II. During this era, the nation experienced a shortage in national food supply during the first and second world wars; specifically, canned fruits and vegetables. Government agencies, private foundations, businesses, and seed companies across the nation encouraged every man, woman, and child to plant a “victory garden” to contribute to the national food supply by providing land and seeds for individuals within the communities to grow. As a result, millions of families grew fruits and vegetables in order to produce a plentiful abundance of food for them, their communities, and the troops at war.
This outdoor garden area was plentiful with flowers, fruits, vegetables, and thorough information on the history of these gardens. There was one entire section of the garden dedicated just to peppers, which was my favorite. There were easily six different types of peppers grown here, all of which looked almost fake; that’s how well-grown and colorful they were. There were also signs posted all over the garden and one sign in particular was placed in front of an open grass area and discussed the importance of meadows. The sign noted on the importance of them, including the fact that they provide cover, food, and nesting sites for birds, insects, and other wildlife. To provide a background on how they are still relevant today, it discussed how the U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees and protects numerous incentive-based programs to encourage farmers to preserve these areas to support pollinators. Having pollinators in the area is essential when growing a garden because, without help from insects, fruits and vegetables grown in a garden will not survive nor produce food. The sign also listed ways in which anyone can help, including children, in restoring and promoting the importance of meadows. This list includes promoting community gardens, replacing parts of the one’s lawn with a meadow of native plants, and avoiding using harmful pesticides.
This experience left me amazed at how much I did not know about not only the nation’s history, but how and what garden’s need in order to thrive. I learned about the importance of having and preserving meadows, the evolution of gardening through the decades, and just how much of an impact just my garden can have on the community. This experience helped me to not only learn things I did not know, but also how important this is to integrate into my future classroom. This STEM-related topic not only teaches the importances of how student’s can make an importance in the environment and their communities, but also is a perfect example of how STEM can be applied both indoors and outdoors. If you ever find yourself in Washington D.C. and you’re looking for a unique place to visit, be sure to make your way over to the “Garden for Victory” just outside of the American History Museum!
For more information on this location and other related exhibits, click here
Thanks for reading!