Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Right to the Source Exploring Science and History with the Library of Congress

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Right to the Source Exploring Science and History with the Library of Congress

Article excerpt

When Schools Fed the War Effort

After the United States entered World War I in April 1917, citizens could support the war effort by buying war bonds, conserving food on "Meatless Mondays" and "Wheatless Wednesdays," and consuming less fuel at home and in their cars. Schools helped, too, as students planted vegetable gardens to increase the food supply.

School gardens, dating to the late 1800s, helped students get fresh air and exercise and learn about nature, which was especially important to city kids. Student gardeners learned about plants, soil, fertilizers, watering, and keeping records to help improve crop yield. They received valuable lessons in botany and entomology by learning the names, anatomy, and life cycles of garden plants and insects; detecting the role of earthworms in soil aeration; watching seed germination; observing pollination by bees and other insects; determining which insects ate which plants; and learning to recognize garden weeds.

During World War I, school gardens let students show their patriotism and support for troops fighting overseas. President Woodrow Wilson approved funding for the United States School Gardens program noting that school gardens were vital to the war effort. …

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