by Local History Librarian David
War time rationing of the food supply combined with shortages in production found many front yards across Bexley converted into vegetable gardens. These Victory Gardens that first appeared during World War I were encouraged during World War II by the Bexley Garden Club.
Experiencing demand for ground to plant gardens, the garden club acquired undeveloped land, rent free, from the Berwick Corporation. Located on the south side of Livingston Avenue, the ten acre tract was divided into forty by fifty foot plots, plowed and fertilized, and offered to anyone desiring to plant a garden of vegetables to aid the war effort.
In March of 1943, Bexley residents lined up at the Bexley Garden Club headquarters, at Bexley Public Library, and registered for over two hundred plots. During a meeting at the Montrose school building, a specialist in vegetable gardening from The Ohio State University provided advice and for two hours daily, a garden clinic was held at the library to distribute literature.
Victory Gardens were not entirely without problems. Soon after their planting the city began to enforce “an almost forgotten ordinance” to prevent dogs, who were feeding on the gardens, from roaming the streets. Emboldened by the dog quarantine, rats became a problem and by June complaints of rats eating the produce poured into city hall.
Despite losses of crops, the amount of produce grown in Victory Gardens across the United States during the Second World War was estimated to be equal to commercial production. After the war, such mass production in gardens waned, but renewed efforts to promote Victory Gardens emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Victory over Virus Gardens” promoted by the Ohio State Extension and Ohio Department of Agriculture during the fall of 2020, produced carrots, kale, beets, radishes, lettuce, and herbs, much of which were donated to community food pantries. The Bexley Community Gardens were included in the “pilot gardens” across the state.
To learn more about Bexley’s Community Gardens and the history and architecture of the homes on this year’s Bexley Women’s Club House & Garden Tour, join us for a virtual program via Zoom at 7 PM on Thursday, May 20. Registration is required.