World War II Victory Garden Program

World War II Victory Garden Program at Fort Devens Museum

What was it like to feed a household of hungry people during World War II? What could a citizen do at home to keep a family healthy and help the war effort?

These questions are the focus in the Saturday, October 18, 2014, afternoon program at Fort Devens Museum: Victory Gardens: How a Nation of Vegetable Gardeners Helped to Win the War . The scene in this particular presentation, to start at 1 p.m., shifts away from battle scenes and stories of those engaged directly in fighting war to those back home, behind-the-scenes yet involved in their way too. Area residents are invited to come find answers to these questions at the Museum, located at 94 Jackson Road on Devens.

Guest speaker for this program will be Botanist Judith Sumner, who “specializes in ethnobotany, flowering plants, plant adaptation, and garden history,” as she states in her biographical profile. Her program will be primarily about victory gardens in the United States and England during WWII. She plans to direct some attention also, she says, to “ration book cookery with its strong emphasis on vegetables and then [relate] a bit about the wider role of plants in fighting the war.”

Sumner has been gathering material for and writing a botanical history of World War II, tentatively entitled Plants Go to War: A Botanical History of World War II. Previously she wrote American Household Botany, which received the American Horticultural Society Book Award in 2005. A graduate of Vassar College, she completed graduate studies in botany at University of Massachusetts-Amherst and has also studied in England at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the British Museum. She has taught at colleges and botanical gardens and worked with teachers and those seeking to improve their science writing skills. In addition, she has made many appearances on television, lectured before horticultural organizations, and written a magazine column on gardening called “The Gardner’s Kitchen.”

So, what role might plants have played in World War II?  To find out, visit the Museum on October 18th.  The museum is open from 10 AM to 3 PM that day and the program will be held at 1 PM. The Fort Devens Museum is located on the 3rd floor at 94 Jackson Road, Devens, MA. The museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information please call 978-772-1286 or email  This program is free and open to the public but donations are encouraged.

Free in the Nashoba Valley